Odessa Prairie Dogs Causing Big Problems

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Some little furry guys are causing big trouble for the City of Odessa year after year, for decades according to city officials.

Officials said prairie dogs burrow into the city every Summer looking for water, but that's putting irrigation lines and neighborhoods at risk.

"The prairie dogs were burrowing under people's yards and disturbing and tearing up irrigation lines," Odessa Public Information Coordinator, Andrea Goodson, said. "We have to control the population. That's all there is to it."

On Tuesday and Wednesday morning, at infested fields like the one west of JBS Parkway, the prairie dogs were gassed out and killed.

City officials said they usually bring in a team to coax the prairie dogs out and relocate them.

But they said that option wasn't available this Summer and that they might not even come.

"The last time she was here she felt she had been treated very poorly by our residents, who yelled obscenities at her and other things because they believed that she was killing the prairie dogs," Goodson said. "She does not want to expose herself to that again, so she's not sure if she is going to return."

Nearby businesses told NewsWest 9 they saw tractors and other machines coming through the same field by JBS Parkway Tuesday and Wednesday, gassing out the prairie dogs and then filling up the holes.

The City of Odessa said as long as just one male and one female prairie dog survive, the problem will go on, but some in the community are against the extermination.

Employees of nearby businesses are worried the gassing could hurt other wildlife too.

"There's also rabbits that live out there," Daniella Aranda, Veterinary Technician for nearby University Small Animal Clinic, said. "There's ground squirrels. There's also even owls that burrow down in those holes also, so it's not just killing the prairie dog, it's killing other animal life."

NewsWest 9 traveled around a neighborhood nearby the field but the neighbors NewsWest 9 talked to said they never saw a problem.

"If it were a problem, try to get them to a different location," Odessa resident, Ibana Hinojos, said. "But they weren't a problem so I don't see why they even had to do that."

But city officials said they received enough complaints to take action.

"For as many complaints that we receive about how we're horrible for killing these prairie dogs, we're getting the equal amount of complaints that something needs to be done about them," Goodson said. "The city's concerned about property damage and safety."

But if any of the prairie dogs survived, and if the Basin stays this dry, the problem could very well come back in the future.