DENVER – In their battle against prairie dogs, land owners in Colorado have a new weapon: explosive gas.
The Colorado Wildlife Commission on Thursday agreed to let farmers and others with too many of the busy diggers to use systems that pump a propane mixture into the burrows, then ignites the gas.
Sterling farmer Matt Fickes said he was "tickled pink" with the new weapon in his war with prairie dogs.
"I've got prairie dogs so thick I can't see straight," he said. "They are born pregnant."
Joe Lewandowski, Division of Wildlife spokesman, said the ruling gives land owners a new option, besides shooting them, sucking them out of the ground with a vacuum, poisoning or drowning them.
"It's very depressing that they would go to this length just to have another way to wage war on wildlife," said Judy Enderle of the Prairie Preservation Alliance. "It's disgusting."
Lauren Nolfo-Clements, wildlife scientist with the Humane Society of the United States, said the explosions aren't powerful enough to guarantee swift extermination.
"A lot of times it won't work unless you do it multiple times," he said. "It wouldn't kill them. It would just explode their eardrums."
Fickes, who said he has tried poison and shoots about 20 prairie dogs a week on his 60 acres, said he'll try the new method if it helps him keep pace.
"I'm losing the battle," Fickes said. "The prairie dog is a rat with a shovel."