Dirt removal affect on prairie dogs called into question

Friday, January 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BIXBY, Okla. (AP) _ A man who has run afoul of animal rights advocates over the way he treats prairie dogs on his land is again facing criticism, this time for disrupting their habitat.

Condell Pollard's land, sandwiched between a strip mall and a used car lot, is home to a prarie dog colony that started about five years ago when a few of the animals escaped from a petting zoo. His efforts to move the rodents because they had become a nuisance drew opposition from Bixby residents. Some of the animals were relocated to an animal park,

On Thursday, workers leveled some ground at a lot on the property to prepare for a new blacktop, Pollard said. By his count, about four prairie dogs were nudged from their holes by the workers.

``They didn't bother the prairie dogs and don't intend to bother them,'' Pollard said. ``They just moved 10 to 20 feet or so.''

But prairie-dog supporter Connie Bush watched the work and said as many as nine holes were covered and seven animals trapped in tunnels. She said she counted only two that escaped.

``One of those two came back and tried to dig back down,'' Bush said. ``He began trying to dig them out; it was kind of sad. We don't know how many were killed.''

Pollard said he had protected the animals in the past. Many of them died from trying to cross a nearby street, he said.

``They don't need to be there,'' Pollard said.