Organization works to save, relocate prairie dogs

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

Prairie dogs aren’t exactly held in the highest regard by those who make a living off the land.

In fact, many local farmers, ranchers and developers view the small mammal mostly as a pest to be rid of.

Joann Haddock of Lorenzo, Texas and her partner Susan Hubby of Clovis are doing their part to get rid of prairie dogs, but not in the permanent fashion favored by some.

The two women are the core of a group called Citizens for Prairie Dogs and they’ve made preserving the lives of prairie dogs their own way of life over the past six years.

Haddock and Hubby spend much of their summer luring the animals out of their burrows in order to transport them to an unspecified plot of land about “45 minutes away from Clovis,” Haddock said.

Haddock estimates she relocates about 1,000 prairie dogs a year to the property of her land-owning benefactor.

“He lives out in the boonies, but he’s got so much land — about 25,000 acres — he doesn’t want people going out and shooting them,” said Haddock, explaining his anonymity.

“He’s actually a very educated professor from the east who’s retired,” she said. “He told us that he loves the prairie dogs and understands how many more animals come with it: the coyotes, hawks, skunks, snakes. He just sits on the front porch and watches it.”

The method Haddock and Hubby use to get the hiding prairie dogs within grabbing distance is by pumping soapy water into the burrows with hoses.

And, physically grab them they do — when the dogs come to the surface to escape the bubbles.

“It’s fun, to a certain extent, but we don’t like having to do this to them. But it is kind of exciting. You get your adrenaline flowing because it is a challenge; they don’t just come up willingly,” said Haddock, who estimates that she gets bit at