ABOUT ROCKY MOUNTAIN WILDLIFE SERVICES
Rocky Mountain Wildlife Services, Inc. is a family-owned vertebrate pest control company that has been offering prairie dog and nuisance wildlife control services for more than 31 years. We are professional and trusted pest controllers with a 95-98% success rate in prairie dog removal. Our experienced staff is well-trained and dependable. We are licensed to serve customers in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. Call Rocky Mountain Wildlife Services, Inc. today at 970-205-9474 for professional wildlife pest control services with results!
- Licensed by the State of Colorado Department of Agriculture, Commercial Applicators License #11757.
- Licensed in Wyoming and Nebraska.
- Member of the Better Business Bureau
- Member of the Colorado Wildlife Control Operators Association
- Member of the National Wildlife Control Operators Association
If prairie dogs are invading your yard, damaging your property or holding up your plans for progress, we can help. Rocky Mountain Wildlife Services, Inc., specializes in the removal of black-tailed prairie dogs from public or private property in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. We employ only legal and lethal methods to remove prairie dogs from places they don’t fit.
OTHER WILDLIFE SERVICES
Having problems with larger animals? We can help out with most coyote, beaver and muskrat problems. The cost of our trapping service is a combination of time needed to set and monitor the traps, plus the cost of travel time and mileage. Anytime traps are set, with live-traps or, foot-hold traps or snares, we have to visit the traps at least once per day to take care of any captured animals and to maintain the traps in proper working order.
Both beaver and muskrats can be live-trapped in many situations, and lethal traps or snares can be used if they are causing agricultural damage or are determined to be a human health and safety problem. Relocation is an option, although a permit is required from the State of Colorado to do so. In certain locations, shooting is an option.
Coyotes are very difficult to live-trap and generally require shooting or foot-hold traps or snares to handle, both of which require a permit from the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife to use.
Voles have become a common pest along the northern Front Range of Colorado over the past five or six years. They have always been around, but not in large enough numbers to notice much.
There are two types of voles in our region, meadow voles and prairie voles.
Best known for the damage they cause to the base and roots of small trees and shrubs and the trails they leave in lawns, voles do their greatest damage underneath the cover of snow, when they can forage all day and night, safe from the constant threat of predators.
Where possible, we prefer to use zinc phosphide baits for the treatment of voles as the bait is both very effective and tends to be a bit safer for pets and other wildlife. However, the use of zinc phosphide is banned for residential use. It can be used on non-residential lawns as well a number of other locations including some crop land, rangeland, groves, vineyards and golf courses.
For residential use, vole control is limited to anti-coagulant baits, traps, habitat modification, exclusion and repellants. Unfortunately, all but the baits are impractical for larger areas of infestation.
Having outdoor cats in the area can help in the control effort. However, voles are known for their prolific breeding. With a very high mortality rate, they need to out-breed their predators. Voles will have 1 to 5 litters per year on average, but can have 10 or more litters, and in a year. Their young reach maturity in a little over a month and will have their own litters.
Control efforts and cost will vary according to the property and the extent of the problem.
For larger areas, where we can use zinc phosphide, we charge by the acre
PRAIRIE DOG FUMIGATION SERVICES
Aluminum phosphide is both very effective for removing prairie dogs and safe for people, pets or livestock in the treatment area. When compared to other pesticides, aluminum phosphide is safer in the larger environment with little to no risk to anything outside of the sealed burrows.
Carbon monoxide causes death by tying up the oxygen transport in the body, leading to asphyxiation. There are two options for administering carbon monoxide. With gas cartridges, sodium nitrate and charcoal are ignited and produce a large, but short-lived, cloud of carbon monoxide
3 LEVELS OF FUMIGATION SERVICES ARE OFFERED
Each active prairie dog burrow at the site is fumigated with aluminum phosphide and the burrows are sealed with paper and soil. Four to ten days after the initial fumigation, we revisit the site and re-fumigate any burrows that have been re-opened and continue to show prairie dog activity. We charge only for the burrows treated during the first visit. Burrows treated during the follow-up visit are covered by the initial charge. Further treatments later in the year will be done at the original per burrow cost. This method generally removes 92-98% of the dogs on the site.
Each active prairie dog burrow at the site is fumigated with aluminum phosphide and the burrows are sealed with paper and soil. No follow-up fumigation is scheduled and any further treatments later in the year will be done at the original per-burrow cost. This method generally removes 80-95% of the dogs on the site.
Each active prairie dog burrow at the site is fumigated with aluminum phosphide and the burrows are sealed with paper and soil. Four to ten days after the initial fumigation, we revisit the site and re-fumigate any burrows that have been re-opened and continue to show prairie dog activity. Sometime later during the year, we will re-visit the site for a second follow-up visit and fumigate any surviving animals. We charge only for the burrows treated during the first visit. Any burrows treated during the first or second follow-up visits are covered by the initial charge. This method generally removes 98-99% of the dogs on the site.
COST OF FUMIGATION SERVICES
The cost for fumigation includes both a trip charge and a charge for each burrow treated. As the trip charge covers mostly travel costs, it reflects the distance we must travel from our office near Windsor, CO. The trip charge covers each job as a whole. If multiple landowners are involved, we will split the set-up fee according to the customers’ wishes.
Windsor Area: $75
Zone 1: Includes Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Berthoud, Wellington: $175
Zone 2: Includes Boulder, Longmont, North Denver Suburbs, Brighton, Fort Lupton, Cheyenne: $225
Zone 3: Includes Fort Morgan, Byers, Bennett, Denver, South Denver, Parker, Laramie: $275
Zone 4: Includes Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Sterling, Kiowa, Crook, Otis, Limon, Dillon, Leadville, Vail, Eagle, Torrington: $325
Zone 5: Includes Julesburg, Holyoke, Wray, Burlington, Glenwood Springs: $375
Beyond Zone 5: The trip charge will be determined by the location of the job.
PRAIRIE DOG BAITS
The EPA currently has three baits registered for prairie dog removal: Zinc phosphide, Rozol® and Kaput-D®.
Zinc phosphide bait, like its fumigant cousin, kills prairie dogs with the use of phosphine. Once the zinc phosphide bait is consumed, it reacts with moisture in the gastric juices to liberate phosphine gas. The prairie dog inhales the gas and dies by suffocation. Application consists of two visits: an application of pre-bait and the application of the bait. During the pre-bait, plain oats are applied to entice and train the prairie dogs to pick up the bait.
ROZOL & KAPUT-D
Rozol ®(chlorophacinone) and Kaput-D® (diphacinone) are anti-coagulant baits for Black-tailed prairie dog removal. Both agents thin the blood and cause death by blood loss and/or dehydration. Each dose of bait must be placed 6” down inside each active burrow. The prairie dogs begin to die off 4 to 5 days after consuming a lethal dose of the bait. According to the label, the site must be visited by the applicator starting four days after application is made
NON-LETHAL OPTIONS FOR PRAIRIE DOG CONTROL
If you are tired of the prairie dogs, but don’t yet wish to see them dead, your options are not particularly good. Live-trapping, fencing, and habitat modification can all help with pest management, but won’t often solve it.
Live trapping of prairie dogs has improved greatly over the years and can now get 75-95% of the animals on the site. If done well, it is both effective and humane, but can be very expensive per animal and, unless you personally have a place in which to relocate them, the trapped dogs are usually euthanized. Most are eventually fed to the black-footed ferret recovery program or to a local raptor rehabilitation program.
If you choose to live-trap, or are forced to live-trap, take care to hire a reputable company that will get the job done. In our experience, volunteer organizations and prairie dog rescue groups rarely get the job done, or done on time. A reputable company may cost more, but you are paying for quality and expertise. They will get the job done for you.
We don’t yet offer a live-trapping service for prairie dogs but may in the future.
Prairie dog fencing has also improved since the days of the ugly black silt fence or straw bales. Wood, concrete, metal, polyethylene tarp, electric wire, chicken wire and woven wire can all be used, possibly in combination, to construct an effective barrier. Aside from surrounding your property with four feet of concrete, all barrier fences have their limitations and are only going to be partially effective. Prairie dogs are tenacious and mobile creatures. If they can figure a way to get around a barrier, they will do so, even if they can’t see over to the other side.
With any barrier, you will get what you pay for. A cheap and/or poorly constructed barrier is worth very little. Regular maintenance is also essential. A prairie dog fence with holes in it is no barrier at all.
There are a few features you should plan for when designing a barrier fence:
- The fence should run far beyond the current edges of the colony as prairie dogs can simply run around the ends of the fence.
- The fence must be a solid material, slick enough that the prairie dogs cannot climb it.
- The fence must extend 12-18 inches below ground and 36 to 48 inches above ground. Although prairie dogs are burrowing animals, they do not appear to know to dig down under an obstacle. They can also jump and least three feet high and will boost themselves over if they can.
- The fence should have no gaps. If a gate is necessary, it must be carefully designed to prevent the animals from squeezing through.
- Maintenance is key. A fence with a hole or two in it is no barrier at all.
- An ideal barrier fence would cover the entire perimeter of the property. Plan to fence off more than you think you need.
We do offer a consultation service and maintenance service for fencing. We also a very limited construction service but we generally recommend hiring a reputable fencing company for the construction. They have the proper equipment, manpower and experience to build a more attractive product for you. If interested, please give us a call and we can explore various options.
In some very limited circumstances, habitat modification can help discourage prairie dogs from residing on your land. Plowing, seeding, dragging of mounds, removal of highly attractive land features, timing your mowing, irrigation and strategic fencing can all help make your land more or less attractive to prairie dogs. Keep in mind what habitat and features prairie dogs prefer and plan accordingly.
We can offer some suggestions if you would like.
We serve customers in Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. In much of this region, we have the most common type of prairie dog called the Black-tailed prairie dog. In northwestern Colorado and most of central and western Wyoming, there are populations of White-tailed prairie dogs. In south central Colorado, southwest Colorado and north of Colorado Springs, around Monument, Gunnison’s prairie dogs are found.
Let us say you have a two- to three-acre prairie dog colony and often see 20 to 30 animals running around on it. Why will the bill show that one hundred burrows were treated?
Black-tailed prairie dogs can have anywhere from 10 to 150 burrows per acre of colony, with 50-75 burrows per acre being the average for an established colony. Therefore, a 2-acre colony may have 100-150 burrows, the average 10-acre prairie dog colony will have close to 500-600 burrows, 20 acres close to 1000 burrows, 100 acres approximately 5000 burrows, and so on. When you have many infested acres, the burrow numbers add up pretty quickly.
Prairie dogs use more than one burrow. Depending on the time of year, a single prairie dog may actively use five to ten burrows and a coterie (family) of prairie dogs may be using 20 to 30 burrows. Which of those burrows do you choose to treat?
To ensure the most effective control we can offer, we fumigate any hole in the colony that may have a prairie dog in it. Not all active burrows are obvious. Depending on time of year and the weather, prairie dogs can stay down inside the burrows for over a month, allowing cobwebs to form or for snow, leaves, and other debris to cover the burrow entrance. If you fumigate only the most active and obvious burrows, more prairie dogs will survive.
Contrary to popular belief, black-tailed prairie dog burrows rarely interconnect. From experience and research, we know that less than 6% of all black-tailed prairie dog burrows have more the one entrance. In fact, it is common for a single prairie dog mound to have entrances to two or more separate burrow systems. Unless you can determine differently, you have to treat each entrance as a separate system and fumigate it.
The other prairie dog species’, White-tailed, Gunnison and Utah prairie dogs, burrows do have interconnected burrow systems with multiple entrances, making them even harder to fumigate. If you miss even one entrance to the burrow system, you may have 10-30 prairie dogs escape.
How about just treating the most active burrows? Not recommended, but we can do that, or treat just the burrows you mark. The problem with that approach lies in the percentage of effectiveness. If you miss 10 to 20% of the animals during the initial fumigation, those survivors will quickly re-open many, if not all, of the treated burrows and you will soon have the same size problem you did before the treatment.
The average black-tailed prairie dog colony has around 50-75 burrows per acre. If you can get a close estimate of the acreage you have, that should give you a reasonable estimate of total number of burrows. If you are uncertain of the burrow density, pick out one or more areas of the infestation that look to be representative, mark out an acre (approximately 209 feet by 209 feet) and then carefully and methodically walk the area, marking and counting the burrows as you go. Count carefully and count all potential burrows. Don’t skip burrows that don’t appear particularly active at the time.
What about a quick visual count? Be careful, not all prairie dog burrows have obvious mounds. Depending on vegetation, past disturbance to the ground, soil type and topography, half or more of the burrows may have no obvious visible mounds. If you look over a colony and visually count 20 or so burrows, double that and you should be closer to the actual number.
Once you have a good estimate on the number of burrows out there, multiply that by the appropriate per burrow fee. Add in the trip charge and you will have a pretty good estimate of the cost for fumigation.
If your neighbor(s) also have a prairie dog infestation and their land goes untreated, you are in for a long struggle with these pests. Any untreated prairie dogs on the other side of your fence will move back into a treated area shortly to re-open and re-occupy some of the treated burrows.
It is always best to treat the entire prairie dog colony rather than just a portion of it. Treating only part of a colony will guarantee that prairie dogs will return and keep your land active. If possible, organize all landowners in the area to treat the prairie dog colony at once. It will save you all a little money and a lot of effort.
If you have a neighbor that can’t afford to participate, it may pay in the long term to treat the neighbor’s land. The extra expense may pay off if you can get rid of the entire colony rather than treating your portion of the colony year after year, for the foreseeable future.
In a few limited locations, putting up a barrier between the treated and untreated sides of the colony can help lessen re-infestation, but even a good barrier won’t stop the re-invasion entirely.
Part of the reasoning behind the purchase of open space lands was to protect prairie dog habitat, and so, most open space organizations are very reluctant to kill prairie dogs on their lands. Some of these same organizations are now recognizing the damage being done by unchecked prairie dog populations. Prairie dogs are not kind to farm crops or most rangeland and the weeds and dust clouds don’t make for an attractive landscape anywhere, nor do they make the neighbors happy. In order to be a good neighbor, they may be willing to fumigate, live-trap, or put up fencing to help contain their side of a colony. Contact the open space coordinator or city department head and ask them if they are willing to help.
Many towns and cities struggle with prairie dog problems of their own. At the same time, a growing number of cities have policies that protect the prairie dogs within city limits. Boulder, Longmont, Broomfield, Thornton, Lafayette, and Parker have rules you may need to follow if you wish to remove prairie dogs from private land. If you are on a small residential lot, less than a few acres or just a few prairie dogs, you should be eligible for a free permit that will allow lethal control of prairie dog burrows. If your land is larger than a few acres or is a commercial property, you have a much more expensive path ahead. Check with local regulations to see what is allowed.
If you have burrowing owls that nest on your prairie dog colony, the state of Colorado recommends that you not treat the area from March 15th through October 15th. However, fumigation is allowed during that time, and we find that burrowing owls are easy to avoid. Nesting burrows are usually obvious and easy to skip. Burrowing owls are diurnal (active during the day) and are usually out flying around during a fumigation, making them easy to avoid.
The western burrowing owl is a state threatened species and, as a migratory bird, it is illegal to knowingly kill a burrowing owl so great care should be taken if they are present. The City of Boulder and the City and County of Broomfield require that a burrowing owl search be performed for any fumigation between March 15th and October 15th.
Burrowing owls are beautiful and intriguing birds to have around. They eat a lot of insects and small rodents without doing any lasting damage to your property. They like the prairie dog burrows for their dens and prefer the mounds for perches and the clipped grass of a prairie dog colony to protect them from predators.
The Black Death can be a very frightful thing. It is deadly without timely treatment, and some forms are deadly even with treatment. However, your chances of getting plague from a prairie dog are pretty slim. 31 years of poisoning prairie dogs and no one from our crew has ever picked up a case of plague.
Prairie dogs can get plague and carry the plague bacterium. Their fleas can then pass that bacterium onto humans or pets that are in the area, but prairie dogs don’t appear to be reservoirs for the plague, and a healthy colony does not appear to have plague in it. When plague arrives, it tends to kill out an area then disappear back into the environment.
If you live near a prairie dog colony or are on a colony during a plague outbreak, you are in danger given all of the hungry infected fleas. If you get rid of the prairie dogs, the danger of plague decreases. The fumigants we use also kill the fleas and we can dust the burrows for fleas as well.
Keep an eye on your outdoor cats as they are highly susceptible to the plague. Canines are not at great risk as they appear to have high resistance to the bacterium. Both cats and dogs can carry and pass on infected fleas. Squirrels, rabbits and mice appear to be far greater risks for passing on the infection, partly due to their larger flea populations.
Plague on a prairie dog colony can actually be a blessing. If your infestation is too large to handle, or untreated colonies in your region keep re-infesting you, plague can be a great help in getting prairie dogs under control.
Black-tailed prairie dogs are native to Colorado and much of the Great Plains and they are believed to have once inhabited the entirety of the Great Plains before the arrival of white settlers, farmers, their poisons and the plague. With great effort, black-tailed prairie dogs were removed from much of their historic range; however, once the most effective and cheap poisons were outlawed for use against prairie dogs, their numbers have bounced back. They now occupy millions of acres throughout much of their historic range and number in the tens of millions of animals. Highly adaptable and tolerant of humans, they currently thrive in the Denver-metro area, all along the Front Range of Colorado and throughout the eastern plains, as well and as the eastern portion of Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico, plus the western portion of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Currently, the most northerly population is in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the most southern in Chihuahua, Mexico.
At this time, no. Eastern Colorado has been declared free of any native populations of black-footed ferrets and the chance of an unknown native population still hiding out in the wild is highly unlikely.
Captive bred ferrets have been released on a number of sites throughout their historic range including recent releases near Pueblo West, north of Fort Collins, and on the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, northeast of Denver. With the Colorado releases, these new populations are considered non-essential, and control of prairie dog colonies on land near the release sites can take place. A recent agreement by the State of Colorado allows for the incidental killing of a ferret during otherwise legal activities, including prairie dog control. It remains illegal to knowingly kill a black-footed ferret.
Were we to find sign of ferret activity on a colony, we would have to hold off on the effort until their presence could be verified. If ferrets were present, the control effort would have to stop.