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its a zoo out there

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March 21, 2012, 14:00
mhartman
its a zoo out there
our county had a praire dog town in a county owed park for years(which is enclosed by a brick wall)....the drought last summer killed all the little critters best we can tell, despite our best efforts to keep them watered etc.
The commissioners are considereing restocking the town. I have not been able to find any authority for the keeeping of wild animals by a county( if they are considered as such) or if keeping them qualifies as a zoo.....and do we need a permit for that etc? i have stared digging but havent been able to come up with any answers yet. the park in which the colony will be located is wholly within the city limits a muncipality.
March 21, 2012, 15:02
Jim Tirey
I don't know the answer to your questions, but I do know lots of people who would give you a good deal on some prairie dogs!
March 21, 2012, 15:43
mhartman
Thanks Jim
I'm already trying to convince them it is a bad idea......
What happens if they die again and the allegation is made of animal cruelty etc....Do we need to create a "county Vet" to give them monthly check-ups?
We have already had an offer by someone not from this county to bring them in free of charge....gives new meaning to "transporting in a dry county."
There is a city ordinace but it appears other governmental enties can be exempted from the ban....darnit!
Jusr now started trying to find something.....anything, in the statutes.
March 22, 2012, 08:57
Scott Brumley
Ahhh hates varmints...

Not really. But the state does regulate them. They're referred to as "fur-bearing animals." Generally, it's okay to hunt them, but it's not generally okay to possess live ones. Unless, as you might expect, you have a license for that sort of thing. Take a look at 31 Tex. Admin. Code sec. 65.371 et seq.

As a general matter, if they're looking to "restock," your court is going to have to coordinate that through the Parks & Wildlife Department.
March 22, 2012, 14:40
mhartman
thanks scott....
i did somre research last night and we might also have to have city permission....Dept of health.....TPWD....Dept of agriculture...and possibly the feds under the animal welfare act....and one or two more possibilities i am unable to recall at the moment.
Not to mention the county insurance provider frowning on the idea...
So, i think after giving that list to the parks director, most of the com. ct. will vote not to restock it.
There are plenty of them to see on the highway right of way between here and lubbock.
March 23, 2012, 08:33
Boyd Kennedy
Prairie dogs are classified as nongame animals under the Parks and Wildlife Code. TPWD doesn't regulate or restrict the keeping of prairie dogs unless they are being sold, in which case the seller needs to have a nongame dealer permit. Gene Snelson is the general counsel at Texas Animal Health Commission and could tell you if there are any disease-related restrictions on moving them.
March 23, 2012, 10:33
Scott Brumley
I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of the Parks and Wildlife Code and its regs. I feel illuminated if I remember to renew my fishing license and boat registration each year. So I would take his word over mine.

At the same time, if this was my court considering the issue, I would be taking the same angle as you. It just sounds like a bad idea for the county to get into the prairie dog business. For one, as Boyd alludes to, they sometimes have plague-bearing fleas. For another, once the court starts down the "stock some of my favorite Texana critters, too" path, where does it stop? And where is the statutory authorization (including authority to spend county money) for it to be found? I haven't looked exhaustively, and I acknowledge that counties have some authority to create and maintain parks, but I don't know of any authority to create or re-stock a prairie dog town. And, while it might not be illegal to possess live prairie dogs, that's not the question for a county. As you know, the question is whether a law affirmatively authorizes -- or necessarily implies the authority for -- the county to expend public resources to possess them. I can't say with confidence that there is such a critter [insert rimshot].
April 11, 2012, 11:08
DMS
This makes me sad, Mike. For 30 years I have visited your "prairie dog town" and fed the little guys french fries. Come to think of it, there's a chance the drought did not kill them. Could have been cholesterol related illnessSmile
April 12, 2012, 10:28
mhartman
Donnis, evidently they dont thrive on bread crumbs, big macs,sonic tater tots, dog food, rotted apples, iceberg lettuce or the other 1000 food items that were thrown in there on any given day. The commissioners court is set to vote on what to do about replacing them next week....i suspect it will be a "no" vote with some citizen outcry.....vandals have been knocking over the cinder block retaining wall for the last few months. I suggested they turn it into a "dog park" to appeal to that group of cictzens who are animal lovers to maybe offset some of the backlash. it will be interesting. Maybe we could borrow some rattle snakes from Lisa in Nolan county and turn it into a snake pit....
April 18, 2012, 12:57
Lisa Peterson
We've got plenty...all rounded up & branded...


Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
April 20, 2012, 11:56
JohnR
Any chance they died of Plague? They are known to be carriers. Careful what you ask for...
May 01, 2012, 17:06
russell wilson
There is an AG's opinion that says a County may expend public funds on a zoo:

https://www.oag.state.tx.us/op.../1979/pdf/MW0060.pdf

I cited it when I gave my Commissioners Court a written opinion that they could continue to spend public money buying goats to feed to the chupacabras at the old Spanish Mission.