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The Denver Gazette

Denver prairie dog poisoning culprit identified

By Dennis Huspeni,

2023-03-13
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A local property management company faces a citation alleging illegal poisoning of prairie dogs in the Denver Tech Center, according to the Denver Department of Health and Environment.

The area has been ordered to be fenced off to protect residents and animals in the vicinity.

After an area resident complained to the Denver Gazette, a story was published Friday about signs in the area of I-25 and I-225, north of Belleview Avenue, warning residents "do not walk dogs, prairie dog mitigation ongoing" and listed a deadly poison being used with the number to Rocky Mountain Poison Center.

Department spokeswoman Tammy Vigil said Monday investigators discovered JLL Property Management manages the properties in the area and hired PrestoX Pest Control of Denver to handle the "mitigation."

"Denver Animal Protection (DAP) issued JLL a summons for poisoning," Vigil said via email. "DAP also issued JLL a Public Health Order/Notice to Abate requiring fencing around the surrounding area."

The area is next to the Pearl DTC Apartments, 7593 E. Technology Way, in Denver. An apartment representative said Friday they didn't know who put the signs out.

JLL officials could not be reached by press time Monday evening. PrestoX officials did not return a call and email from the Denver Gazette seeking comment.

Resident Michael Burke, who has walked his dog in the area for years, notified the Denver Gazette last week, saying: "This is a very serious issue. My dog walks there and kids play there."

The Denver Animal Protection office "has begun receiving calls reporting dead and dying prairie dogs. This is problematic as any animal that eats the carcass may also get poisoned," said Vigil.

The use of zinc phosphide to mitigate prairie dogs is considered a violation of a Denver city ordinance.

The ordinance reads:

"It shall be unlawful for any person to poison any domestic animal in any manner whatsoever with the intent or for the purpose of poisoning such animal. This prohibition shall not apply to the destruction of those animals identified by the executive director as requiring eradication for the protection of the public health. Such eradication may include poisoning only when deemed necessary by the executive director."

Without explicit permission from the department, the person or company who applied the poison can be charged.

Violations of the ordinance can include fines of up to $999 and/or up to 300 days in jail.

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