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Health, Science & Environment

New Federal Rule Allows Killing Airport's Prairie Dogs

prairie dog tunnel next to runway light
Alicia Geesman
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will allow the city of Parowan to kill the prairie dogs that have been digging tunnels under the runway and causing other damage at its airport.  Utah prairie dogs are protected under the Endangered Species Act, but the agency issued a new rule yesterday that allows killing the animals where they pose a safety risk.  Parowan City Manager Shayne Scott thinks the new rule will help bring business back to the airport.

"We would argue that we've never operated an unsafe airport," Scott tells KUER.  "The Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA, would probably not allow that.  They do regular inspections of our airport.  But there have been organizations that we've had a conversation with that have said they won't land here because of the prairie dog."

The new rule also allows killing prairie dogs at sacred and cultural sites such as the Paragoonah Cemetery, but it won't allow stricter measures to control the animals at the Cedar City golf course or in other areas where they don't pose an increased hazard.

In a news release, Senator Orrin Hatch praised the new rule, saying it gives Utahns more control over their own land.

Utah Prairie Dogs at the Center of Endangered Species Battle

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