Locals Upset About Prairie Dog Park Construction, City of Wichita Falls Issues Statement
UPDATE: The city of Wichita Falls posted the video below on Monday evening following questions and concerns from the community about the wellbeing of the Prairie Dogs in Kiwanis Park:
A video surfaced Friday night of construction going on at the prairie dog enclosure at Kiwanis Park in Wichita Falls, and people had a lot of questions.
I saw a lot of people sharing the video below of the construction going on at the prairie dog park. A local citizen saw construction crews that had driven over the prairie dog habitat. We knew that improvements were coming from a story back in February, but everyone wants to know are the prairie dogs OK?
We sort of got a statement from the city this morning, it was not the question I wanted to be answered, however. Their statement is in full below:
The City has experienced a significant overpopulation of Prairie Dogs at the Park Exhibit to the point where they have escaped their containment area. These animals are rapidly moving to other areas of the park and neighborhoods causing health concerns and other disruption. They are nearing private property, cemeteries, sports fields and could ultimately leave the park at Southwest Parkway causing traffic hazards.
In response, the City Parks Department is constructing a new 70,000 square foot fence that has concrete walls buried 5’ underground. This containment area is approximately twice the size of the older containment area. Staff will be installing water sprinklers, landscape, and stones in the new habitat area to help generate food and provide other natural resources for the animals. We will be catching and relocating as many of the animals as possible to the new containment area and searching for other areas to relocate the animals.
However, these methods won’t address all of the overpopulation issues we are experiencing, and ultimately we may have to use humane methods of euthanasia to correct the problem. We have conducted much research on these methods and learned from other communities that have experienced similar problems. These animals can carry plague and other health conditions that may be hazardous to humans so we will be taking all precautions necessary to address this problem.
We will be closing the park on several occasions for a day or two with construction equipment at the entrance to inform people that the park is temporarily closed."
All anybody wants to know is, did anybody try to remove the prairie dogs that are currently in the habitat before driving over it? I have now called several times over to Terry Points who is the superintendent of the park for an official statement, but have not yet received a response. Did they attempt to remove any prairie dogs from the habitat? Did an animal expert give the go-ahead that they will be fine?
That's all we want right now. It looks like this new prairie dog park will be great for them. However, right now, from the comments I am seeing online, a lot of people think we have a bunch of squished prairie dogs under there and we're building a new park on top of them.
A typical prairie dog burrow goes thirty feet below ground and they're very aware of dangers at all times, especially of potential predators. They usually have several exits out of their burrows, so I believe the prairie dogs were likely able to get away. I am not an expert, and like I said, people just want answers.
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