Daily Archives: November 1, 2014

Relocating a prairie dog colony

By Kathy Hanks

The Hutchinson News

Off in the distance, a black-tailed prairie dog stood on watch duty as a group huddled around a burrow being filled with soapy water.

Then the varmint let out a chirp, no doubt warning its comrades to burrow deeper into the ground.

By the end of the day, about 40 prairie dogs would hopefully learn that surrender was the best option. Life would only get better. But they would put up a resistance to the group that included Jeff Wells with Advance Termite & Pest Control, members of Audubon of Kansas and Jay Mitzner’s Bobcat Service, which provided the thousands of gallons of water to flush them out of the prairie dog colony.

The plan was to take the captives peacefully and relocate the prairie dogs to a 42,000-acre ranch in the Red Hills of BarberCounty. That’s where they would begin a new life in an existing prairie dog colony.

“They are going to have a great life,” said Cheryl L. Mitchell, controller for Henzlik Real Estate Companies. She spent the past two months researching and developing a plan to relocate the prairie dog town so that dirt work could begin and properties could be developed north of 17th Avenue and K-61, east of the Olive Garden restaurant. Plans are for a Buffalo Wild Wings and Rib Crib to open in 2015.

Instead of running the prairie dogs off or killing them, Mitchell organized Tuesday’s roundup. She worked closely with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism as well as Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas, to ensure the best way to safely remove an estimated 40 prairie dogs.

Mitchell was determined the relocation would be successful. That’s why it was imperative, she said, that the prairie dogs be released into existing colonies.

With almost as many bottles of Dawn dishwashing detergent as there were prairie dogs and 2,000 gallons of water at a time, they began filling the prairie dog holes that led to an underground world. As the morning warmed up, a group of prairie dogs was sunning above ground, keeping their eye on the humans.

“The first one was easy to catch,” Mitchell said as the soaking-wet and sudsy rascal flew out of the hole and was grabbed by a gloved Wells. Standing at attention were two volunteers with large nets.

Klataske explained that the soapy water flushed down into the burrow would get into all the crevices, forcing the prairie dogs to come to the surface. Once each prairie dog was captured, Wells wiped the soap off the animal and out of its eyes and placed it inside a Stutzman Refuse trash container with straw bedding.

As they began capturing more prairie dogs, the animals would burrow together in the trash barrel. Mitchell said the dark trash bin was more humane for the prairie dogs than putting them inside a cage.

‘Here’s some fresh poop,” said Wells. “A sign of life.”

Mitchell took the long hose and shoved it down the hole. Within minutes, a soaked and slippery varmint shot up out of the hole and Wells grabbed it in his gloved hands.

It continued like this until they hit what Klataske said was the prairie dogs’ “convention center.” That’s when the varmints began swimming up to the surface.

“Operation Sudsy Water” was in full swing.The smell of dish soap mingled with the smell of the worst wet dog imaginable as each critter was captured.

Meanwhile, Wells was on the ground with his arm all the way up to his shoulder in one of the burrows. He looked like an arm wrestler, red-faced and determined to win. He came up with two more prairie dogs. The trash containers were filling. Inside of them, the prairie dogs were drying off, their hair fluffy and clean. They would nest deeper into the straw.

Klataske noted that the colony, which was growing smaller as the day progressed, had been a perfect environment for prairie dogs.

“There are not many predators because the grass is mowed,” said Klataske. But development was inevitable. And the prairie dogs were going to a good home.

The real estate deal would close next week, Mitchell said, and they would begin moving dirt.

She was thrilled with the outcome of the relocation project. She even netted one of the 40 prairie dogs that were captured.

“We have far exceeded any expectations,” Mitchell said.

17th annual youth & women’s pheasant hunt at WacondaLakeNov. 22nd

Event provides outstanding hunting opportunities for new young and women hunters

If you want to learn more about hunting but don’t know where to start, the 17

Annual Youth & Women’s Pheasant Hunt At Waconda Lake might be for you. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and sponsoring partners will conduct the 2014 pheasant hunting event for youth and women at WacondaLake on Saturday, Nov. 22.

Designed to provide women and youth new to hunting with a safe and productive initiation into hunting, the event will begin at 7:15 am with breakfast at the HopewellChurch basement in GlenElderState Park. Breakfast will be followed by a pre-hunt safety talk and participants will be divided into hunting groups. The hunters, guides, and mentors will then head out to various refuge areas (where a very limited amount of hunting is allowed) around WacondaLake and hunt for the remainder of the morning and early afternoon. A noon meal will be provided by the Waconda Lake Association.

Women of any age and youth ages 11–16 are encouraged to apply for this hunt, which is geared toward providing a comfortable and positive hunting environment for new or inexperienced hunters. Previous hunting experience is not required, and some shotguns and ammunition can be provided to applicants who do not have access to their own equipment.

To apply, contact the Glen Elder Area Office by Monday, Nov. 10 by calling 785-545-3345 between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Up to 40 applicants will be selected to participate in the hunt.

This year’s new format will divide participants into groups based on their hunting experience and skill levels. The most inexperienced hunters will start their activities with some basic field safety exercises and trap shooting, then progress pheasant hunting later in the day. Participants who have some prior pheasant hunting experience will spend more time in the field.

A unique aspect of this event is that each group of pheasant hunters will get to hunt alongside hero/celebrities who have been invited to serve as hunting mentors. These individuals may be former professional athletes, TV personalities, or military personnel who have recently returned from deployment.

Trap shooting will be available for hunters to work on refining their shooting skills. From 1:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. the trap shooting will also be open to the general public. The trap shooting area will be located immediately west of the KDWPT Glen Elder Area Office. Everyone is encouraged to bring novice shooters with them.

All participants will receive a commemorative T-shirt that recognizes event sponsors. Each of the youth hunters will also receive a prize bag containing several items of “essential” outdoor gear for beginning hunters.

Additionally, a hunters’ banquet is planned for Saturday night. The banquet will include a meal, recognition of event sponsors and partners, and opportunity for hunters, mentors and the hero/celebrities to interact. All event participants are invited to attend and will be asked to RSVP for the banquet when they sign up for the hunt.

Extra volunteers will be needed for the event to serve as hunting and instructional mentors. For further questions concerning the event or if you would like to be involved, please contact Chris Lecuyer at the KDWPT Glen Elder Area Office 785-545-3345.