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Group wants permission to remove endangered prairie dogs

The Iron County Commission in Iron County, Utah, is trying to lobby political leaders for the right to remove Utah's prairie dogs from commercial places such as airports, cemetaries and golf courses, The Spectrum reports.

Prairie dogs, a protected species under the Endangered Species Act, are not allowed to be removed under penalty of law. Unlawful removal of the rodents can cost up to $1,000 in fines or a year in jail plus additional penalties. However, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has the right to remove them from agricultural lands.

The commission argues that the burrowing habits of the rodents destroys airport runways and golf courses and desecrates graves. This can harm the health and safety of the public, they argue.

Prairie dogs do in fact have a complex underground system that consists of tunnels leading to nurseries, sleeping quarters and toilets, according to National Geographic. The rodents, once numerous, have fallen victim to habitat loss as land in the Great Plains is converted to farmland, and are often killed as pests. Their range has shrunk about 95 percent, and their numbers were reduced by 98 percent in the 20th century alone. 
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