Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
* Defenders of Wildlife * Humane Society of the United States * Forest
Guardians * Great Plains Restoration Council * Animal Legal Defense
Fund * Llano Estacado Audubon Society
For Immediate Release: Monday, October 7, 2002
Contact: Scott Royder, Texas PEER, (512) 441-4941
SUIT FILED TO HALT PRAIRIE DOG EXTERMINATION
Conservation Groups Charge Lubbock Removal Plan is Illegal
Austin - A coalition of conservation groups today filed suit in Travis
County Superior Court to block a state-approved plan to destroy one
of the largest black-tailed prairie dog colonies in the Southwest.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Defenders
of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States and others charge
that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) improperly
approved a plan by the city of Lubbock to eradicate up to 50,000 prairie
dogs in a misdirected effort to address the city’s growing groundwater
The colony on the Lubbock Land Application Site (LLAS) has been at
the heart of a statewide controversy since June, when TCEQ declared
that prairie dogs were a threat to groundwater underneath the site,
and ordered their removal. The city responded with a "compliance plan"
featuring "chemical and/or concussive control" to exterminate the
The state’s own wildlife experts immediately condemned the plan.
In September, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fired off a
critical letter stating that "TCEQ admitted having no evidence that
prairie dogs were creating problems at the LLAS," and asked the agency
to "revise" its notice of violation to the city. To date TCEQ has
ignored these pleas and multiple attempts by local conservation organizations
to suggest alternative plans that do not threaten prairie dog populations.
The suit cites the complete absence of scientific study to support
the plan and demands that the prairie dog removal action halt.
Black-tailed prairie dogs are considered a candidate species for
listing under the Endangered Species Act. Three years ago, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service decided that full threatened species protection
for the dogs was "warranted but precluded," meaning that, while scientific
data justifies listing, the Service did not have the resources to
do so. Large scale eradication efforts have imperiled the black-tailed
prairie dog in Texas. Over 150 species of plants and wildlife are
closely associated with black-tailed prairie dogs, and many of these
are declining as well.
"We are filing this lawsuit because the City of Lubbock refuses to
listen to reason," said Juan Mancias, member of the Carrizo/Comecrudo
Tribe, and a plaintiff. "If we listen, we will recognize that when
we take care of the prairie dogs and all of their relations, then
we will take care of the land, the air, the water and all peoples."
"When the gas clears and there are 200,000 pounds of dead prairie
dogs in the ground, Lubbock’s water will still be polluted," said
Texas PEER director Scott Royder. "We hope that this lawsuit will
force the city to admit that the 14 million gallons of wastewater
dumped daily is the true contamination source."
Bill Snape, Defenders of Wildlife,
Washington DC, (202) 682-9400
"It is outrageous that the TCEQ would allow
the mass carnage of ecologically important prairie dogs on state lands
that will inevitably lead to the deaths of other wildlife species
such as the imperiled burrowing owl," said Defenders of Wildlife’s
Vice President William Snape.
Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit
conservation organization recognized as one of the nation's most progressive
advocates for wildlife and its habitat, with more than 430,000 members
Bette Stallman, Ph.D., The Humane Society of the
United States, Washington, DC, 301-258-3147
"Science, not speculation, should drive management
actions intended to reduce groundwater nitrate levels," commented
Bette Stallman, a wildlife scientist with the Humane Society of the
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has seven million
members and constituents. With active programs in companion animals,
wildlife, animals in research, and farm animals and sustainable agriculture,
The HSUS works to protect all animals through legislation, litigation,
investigation, education, advocacy and field work.
Jarid Manos, Great Plains Restoration Council, Ft.
Worth, TX, (817) 335-0122
"Prairie Dogs have been here for a million years," said Jarid Manos
of the Great Plains Restoration Council. "Like the buffalo and the
antelope, they have been driven to extinction and now are being scapegoated
for problems created by men."
Great Plains Restoration Council is a multiracial non-profit organization
building the Buffalo Commons by bringing the wild buffalo prairies
back and restoring healthy sustainable communities to the Great Plains,
from the Indian reservation to the prairie outback to the inner city
Ellen Roots McBride, President, Llano Estacado Audubon
Society Lubbock, TX, (806) 785-1876
"Science protects us from the randomness of personal opinion. As
affected citizens, we insist science be the basis of regulatory decisions"
said Ellen McBride, president of the Llano Estacado Audubon Society.
The Llano Estacado Audubon Society's mission is to conserve and
restore natural ecosystems - focusing on birds, other wildlife and
habitat - for the benefit of human heritage and the earth's biological
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