I think we need a CO WMD Meet denver & the west Explosives a go for prairie dogs FARMERS NOW ALLOWED TO BLAST PESTS By Jeremy P. Meyer Denver Post Staff Writer Explosive devices can be used to kill prairie dogs, the Colorado Wildlife Commission decided Thursday - giving farmers one more tool to get rid of the burrowing animals. "I'm tickled pink," said Matt Fickes, a Sterling farmer who has sought to use the devices. "I've got prairie dogs so thick I can't see straight. "Ever see that Star Trek episode, 'The Trouble With Tribbles'? It's like that," he said. "They are born pregnant." Landowners have been allowed to shoot, vacuum, poison and drown prairie dogs - but not blow them up. Now they'll be permitted to use hand-held devices, such as the Rodenator and Varmitgetter, that ignite explosive gases to collapse the burrows. "This idea was set up to give people another alternative," said Joe Lewandowski, state Division of Wildlife spokesman. Use of explosive devices was sought by ranchers, farmers and organic-produce growers, who feared using poisons would affect their certification, Lewandowski said. Jim Dyer, director of the Colorado Organic Producers Association, said he doesn't know of any organic farmers who have requested the use of the device. Dyer said it is his understanding that using propane in the ground would violate the organic rules set up by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Conservation groups criticized the ruling. "It's very depressing that they would go to this length just to have another way to wage war on wildlife," said Judy Enderle of the Prairie Preservation Alliance. "This is a milestone. It's disgusting." Lauren Nolfo-Clements, wildlife scientist with the Humane Society of the United States, called the commission's decision "egregious." "From a humane standpoint, Advertisement it's a complete nightmare," she said. "A lot of times it won't work unless you do it multiple times. It wouldn't kill them. It would just explode their eardrums." Still, on Fickes' 60-acre spread, where he raises cattle and pigs, the new devices will soon be booming, the farmer said. "It looks like someone shot at my ground with a howitzer and came by with a Rototiller," he said. Fickes has tried poisoning the prairie dogs and shoots about 20 a week. "I'm losing the battle," Fickes said. "The prairie dog is a rat with a shovel. I would rather blow them up than poison them." The 11-member commission on Thursday also established a seasonal closure period for prairie dog hunting from March 1 to June 14, during the breeding months for white-tailed, Gunnison and black-tailed prairie dogs. The commission set a three-month period in which prairie dogs will be protected. But it lifted an eight-year ban on hunting black-tailed prairie dogs on public lands. Staff writer Jeremy P. Meyer can be reached at 303-954-1367 or [email protected].