The population of prairie dogs once numbered in the billions. Numbers were once so great that Lewis and Clark noted that the animals “appear in infinite numbers”. Sadly, up to 98 percent of these animals have now been eliminated, many from poisoning as developers build new residential and commercial communities. One such developer that is poisoning black-tailed prairie dogs is Forest City Enterprises. The animal pictured above is a survivor from a massive poisoning authorized by Forest City Enterprises - killing in the name of “development”. These animals must be saved as western ecosystems depend on the prairie dog. Over 100 wildlife species benefit from prairie dog colonies to meet their biological needs.
I am both a veterinarian, and a grandmother, who lives in a Denver community (Stapleton) where fields of prairie dogs have been killed. One field is located one-half block from my house. After seeking information about the killing, I learned that the animals were inhumanely poisoned, the developer did not follow their published plans, and that many mothers and grandmothers were struggling to explain the “disappearance” of the animals to their children. A community group of experts offered to work with the developer to protect wildlife during future community development. Forest City Enterprises, Inc. refused the offer and kept on destroying the animals.
What Forest City Enterprises “says” and what is “does”
SAYS: Forest City Enterprises, Inc. - a national real estate company with over $10 billion in total assets – prepares and shares development plans as a “Green Builder”. It goes so far as to print their plans on recycled paper with soy-based inks. The written plans include a wonderful commitment to wildlife and habitat development; including plans for black-tailed prairie dog management. Plans describe how children in a Forest City community will have enriched lives due to the presence of wildlife in their midst.
DOES: Forest City Enterprises, Inc. inhumanely poisons wildlife and fails to follow their own plans or consider expert panel recommendations. Black-tailed prairie dogs are poisoned with aluminum phosphide, resulting in death by suffocation as lungs fill with fluid. Because of potential lethality for humans and pets, the use of this pesticide is restricted and can only be applied by certified applicators or persons under their direct supervision. When concerned citizens convened, hoping to work with this “Green Builder” to find solutions, they were largely ignored and given no hope that future poisonings would be stopped. Following massive killings, children asked their parents and grandparents to explain where the prairie dogs went and why they no longer pop their heads up. It is hard to explain to children that the animals can no longer pop their heads up – as they have suffocated in their own body fluids and died.
Tell Forest City to stop the killing of Black-tailed prairie dogs in their residential and commercial development sites. Tell Forest City to do what it says it does … preserve wildlife and habitat. Tell Forest City to live up to its commitment to children – allowing kids to grow in an enriched community that respects life.
Encourage Jon Ratner, Vice President of Sustainability, Forest City Enterprises (who is also a board member of the Humane Society of the United States) to “walk the talk” and stop the inhumane killing of prairie dogs. The animals in our communities need more than words and plans. The animals need protection from a company that is truly devoted to advancing the welfare of people and animals in the communities that they serve.