The governor has vetoed LB-449, a measure that would have repealed the regulation. Farm Bureau president Steve Nelson says keeping the law in place allows landowners to control the pests.
“Prairie dogs can be a huge problem and really cause a lot of destruction to grazing land particularly,” Nelson says. “Anything that gets in the way of being able to do a good job of managing that kind of situation is something that we would not support.”
Nelson says prairie dogs compete with cattle and other livestock for forage and leave a destructive path in their wake.
“They will chew off whatever vegetation is around them in order to see as far as they can,” Nelson says. “The fact they can multiply so quickly can take a situation where you may see one or two prairie dogs and before you know it, you have a large area being cleared flat to the ground.”
Nelson says some animals need government protection, but prairie dogs aren’t one of them.
“This is a situation where we have a species that can reproduce very quickly and very aggressively take over land,” Nelson says. “It’s something that we need to be able to manage.”
Senator Ernie Chambers had sponsored the repeal of the Black Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act of 2012 which passed on a vote of 26-to-13. Chambers called it poorly written and an infringement of private property rights. He claimed the law gave counties unconstitutional power to eradicate prairie dog colonies deemed invasive without consent of the property owners.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton