Update On the Manor House Open Space Prairie Dog Relocation
On Nov. 18, 2014, the Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association Board of Directors adopted the Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association and Metropolitan District Open Space and Parks Prairie Dog Conservation Policy. The Metropolitan District Board followed suit and adopted the policy on Jan. 27, 2015.
The primary purpose of the policy is to develop a conservation policy for Ken-Caryl Ranch Open Space and Parks staff use that recognizes the ecological significance of the black-tailed prairie dog within the prairie ecosystem, while addressing the concerns of private landowners and residents, considering other wildlife species and preserving the conservation values for which open space was established. The policy also designates the Manor House Open Space as a No Prairie Dog area because of incompatible land use resulting from the activity of prairie dogs on adjacent private property owners.
Open Space department staff is now using the policy to help guide efforts to relocate the prairie dog colony adjacent to the Manor House located between the North Ranch and the Valley. Staff are working with Deb Jones of Prairie Dog Action to use humane efforts to capture the animals and move them to designated release sites located on the east side of the North and South Hogback Open Space parcels.
There are approximately 600-900 prairie dogs in the Manor House colony. One of the first tasks that needs to be done is to prepare the release site by building artificial burrows and mowing down the vegetation (to simulate clipping done by prairie dogs, which they do as a result of feeding and to maintain sight lines, a defense against predators). The actual capture and release of the animals will not happen until July or August and will continue into October or November.
The plan is to remove all of the prairie dogs at the Manor House colony and when complete, the old site will be seeded with native grasses and the old burrow openings backfilled and leveled.
The estimate for moving the Manor House prairie dogs is $23,000-$27,000. The 2015 Annual Plan of the Master Association budgets $20,000 for this project. $10,000 of this budget represents a developer’s fee received by the Master Association for a prairie dog relocation to the North Hogback Open Space in 2014. Staff is working with Deb Jones on a grant proposal to raise the remaining funds needed for the project.