Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Where's Dave? Followup to a day of Horse Slaughter Bill:

Whew! Tis the Season --- The legislative season that is!!! Last week I devoted the entire Blog to telling about the last minute work to try to stop a bill (SB170) in South Dakota that would have opened the door and provided funding for a new Horse Slaughter Plant. Well on Tuesday of last week the SB170 was technically killed in the AG committee. The Committee members heard from our lobbyist, dozens of animal protection people, some tribal contacts and even a few state agencies who testified that now was not the time to pursue such folly.

The next day our Student Choice ( giving students the right to opt out of dissection in school project) passed the House Committee (Colorado), and the felony Dog Fighting Bill in Idaho passed the Senate Floor vote 31-4. SO a great week of legislation. Now we have to keep tracking those and are working on about twenty more bills in six states including felony laws in WY , Alaska and Utah.

I will be hitting the road again Friday for some equine training in CA, and then to Utah for a Lobby Day in Salt Lake City to help train over sixty animal advocates on how to help pursue better animal laws. I then land in Billings, repack my luggage and drive to Denver for the first of many exciting Field Projects this year... the relocation of an entire town of urban prairie dogs.

This project on 2/14 through 2/18 will be a collaborative effort of several groups. My team is accepting responsibility for constructing several Prairie Dog (p-dog) condo's for the relocated p-dogs. This will not be easy work in February as the artificial dens must be built above ground and then buried to offer the p-dogs a head start on setting up housekeeping. So we will be building about 30-40 nest boxes with large PVC pipe and plywood floors and ceilings. These will be buried in deep trenches ( below the frost line) and then connected to the surface with 6 inch plastic drainage flexible culvert. Then with some added hay and some groceries, these p-dog condo's will allow a colony of p-dogs that are in a hospital construction zone to be moved to a rural ranch where they can continue to setup housekeeping!

We , as we usually do, are trying to make the best of this situation where animals have to be translocated due to urban construction and we are adding an additional "port" to these nest boxes. This will be a vertical pipe that comes to the surface and can be "capped" on top. This access port will be too small for the p-dogs to attempt to go into...but large enough for a temperature cable and a special video cable cam to be inserted later this spring so some good science about p-dog den preferences and maybe even some p-dog nesting activity can be recorded by local researchers.

We will be joined in Denver by one of the HSUS Disaster Response teams, probably a four person strike team. They will provide much of the physical construction labor and it will be an opportunity for them to work with our NRRO green response trailer. This is great training for if they have to return to the western United States for a real disaster as they will be familiar with the trailer and its capabilities. For this project the trailer will be set up for rural construction and will have two portable generators and all the power and hand tools necessary to keep two strike teams busy building p-dog nest boxes. When I get back from Denver...the trailer will get gutted and reset to serve as a mobile spay neuter clinic. It can also be set up to sponsor an emergency animal shelter or for many other purposes. It has six self contained batteries, interior lighting and is air conditioned for summer projects ( but we will be heating it for the p-dog project).

This will be a quick trip to Denver .... as I have to get home for a animal rights meeting in Billings and then Drive to Missoula (six hours west) to attend a series of meetings and State Working Group planning on Bats, Reptiles and Grizzly Bears.

All in all it will be a crazy February (& MAR,APR,MAY/JUN)... but it will be nice to have you along for the ride! Stay warm if you can and will see you again next week.


P-dog colony projects like this help not only prairie dogs. Burrowing Owls are just one of many species that benefit from sound p-dog ecosystems. dlp

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