Prairie dog management repeal advanced

Senators gave first-round approval March 4 to a bill that would repeal the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act.

LB128, introduced by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, would repeal the act, which was passed by the Legislature in 2012. Chambers said the management act does not take into account that prairie dogs are indigenous to Nebraska and an important part of the state’s ecosystem. Instead, he said, the act was modeled on noxious weed laws.

“When that is the approach taken with these animals, it is premised upon the idea that they are an invasive species, which they are not, and that they should be eradicated, which they should not,” he said.

Wahoo Sen. Jerry Johnson spoke in favor of the bill. While prairie dogs can be a problem, he said, there are more humane ways of dealing with them.

“There are situations in the western part of the state where there is an abundance of prairie dogs doing extensive damage to property and lowering property values,” he said. “They do need to be controlled, but there are other ways to control them on your own property [besides poisoning them].”

A prairie dog colony that migrates to a neighbor’s land should not be that landowner’s problem, said Hyannis Sen. Al Davis.

“I don’t care if a neighbor wants to have prairie dogs on his land, but if they migrate it should not be my responsibility to poison the dogs because it can be very costly and time consuming.”

Senators advanced the bill to select file on a 31-12 vote.

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