Urban Wildlife Management Plan
Wildlife in the Boulder city limits and along the urban interface sometimes conflict with human activities. This situation creates the need for a comprehensive, long-term plan to guide management of wildlife in Boulder's urban areas. The Boulder community, City Council, Environmental Advisory Board, and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board worked together to develop a Urban Wildlife Management Plan (UWMP) to help address concerns about bears, bobcats, coyotes, prairie dogs, mountain lions and other wildlife issues.
Managing Wildlife to Reduce Potential Conflicts
The purpose of the UWMP is to establish a set of policies and guidelines for managing wildlife within Boulder. The intent of the plan is to integrate urban wildlife management in the Boulder Valley with the existing and emerging plans and policies of the Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department.
The UWMP establishes a framework for making urban wildlife management decisions, provides direction on regulatory and program changes, and outlines a set of actions for long-term management of human-wildlife conflicts.
Boundaries and Scope
The geographic scope of the plan is the developed urban area of the city that receives city-provided services, such as water and sewer. OSMP policies guide the management of wildlife habitat on OSMP lands. For areas where developed areas adjoin open space, the plan proposes management strategies to address potential conflicts in that interface area.
Prairie Dog Removal Update (Aug. 6, 2015)
Prairie dogs are an important species in short- and mid-grass prairies, although their presence in the area of Foothills Community Park conflicted with the existing multi-use turf fields and state-regulated flood control structures. In 2013 and 2014, the city relocated the prairie dogs from this area to the Open Space Southern Grasslands Preserve. The 28-week effort resulted in the trapping of 647 prairie dogs—more than 99 percent of the colony—being relocated. With prairie dogs, the fewer that remain in the area, the more difficult it becomes to trap them. The last few were not able to be trapped.
An attempt at lethal control was conducted in May to remove the prairie dogs that remain on site. Carbon monoxide cartridges, the most humane and environmentally sound way to lethally control prairie dogs in their burrows, was applied. As of July 27, there were 11 prairie dogs observed on the site. A second attempt at lethal control with pressurized carbon monoxide will be attempted on Aug. 6.
Lethal control following a relocation project is in keeping with BRC 6-1-11 Limitation on Lethal Means of Control for Prairie Dogs and the Prairie Dog Component of the Urban Wildlife Management Plan, as all other mitigation options were explored and attempted.
For more information, contact Urban Wildlife Coordinator Val Matheson at 303-441-3004, or [email protected]
The City of Boulder was granted a permit from Colorado Parks and Wildlife to relocate up to 900 prairie dogs from burrows in and around Foothills Community Park (700 Cherry) and from additional colonies on open space lands. The prairie dogs are being relocated to city open space east of Highway 93, south of Coal Creek and north of Highway 128.
Prairie dogs are an important species in the short and mid-grass prairies; however, their presence in the area of Foothills Community Parks is in conflict with existing multi-use turf fields and state-regulated flood control structures, so the city is moving the entire colony to the Southern Grasslands Preserve, where their presence is desirable and compatible with the local ecosystem. This activity is being performed under a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Wild-to-Wild relocation permit and is part of Boulder’s Urban Wildlife Management Plan and Open Space and Mountain Parks’ Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan.
What can I do to help?
In order to ensure safety for you, your companions, the wild animals and the relocators, please remain on trail through 2014 and follow the regulations such as keeping your dogs leashed. As it is illegal to do so, do not disturb any traps, vehicles or other activities occurring as part of the relocation.
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Valerie Matheson at 303-441-3004.
If prairie dogs are causing nuisance problems for you or the uses of your property, do not attempt to poison or kill the animals. Contact:
- Private Property: Animal Protection at 303-441-3333
- Open Space Property: Heather Swanson, Open Space and Mountain Parks, 720-564-2054
- Open Space Property: Mark Gershman, Open Space and Mountain Parks, 720-564-2046
- Parks and Recreation Property: Joy Master at 303-413-7261
If you have development plans for your property that may be in conflict with prairie dogs on the site, or if you have any questions about prairie dog lethal control permits, contact Val Matheson at [email protected] or 303-441-3004.
View more information about prairie dogs.
City ordinance requires landowners to obtain a permit from the city before using any form of lethal control on prairie dogs. In order to obtain a permit, the landowner must demonstrate the following:
- a reasonable effort has been made to relocate the prairie dogs to another site;
- the most humane method of lethal control possible will be used;
- the land on which the prairie dogs are located will be developed within 15 months of the date of the application, a principal
- use of the land will be adversely impacted in a significant manner by the presence of prairie dogs on the site, or an established landscaping or open space feature will be adversely impacted by the prairie dogs; and
- the landowner has an adequate plan designed to prevent the reentry of prairie dogs onto the land after the prairie dogs are lawfully removed.
The waiting period after the submission of an application is a minimum of three to five months. If the city determines that relocation alternatives exist during or after the initial three-to-five month period, it may delay issuing the permit for an additional 12 months in order to allow relocation to occur.
The basic administrative fee for a lethal control permit is $1,500. An applicant for a prairie dog lethal control permit must also pay a fee of $1,200 per acre of active prairie dogs habitat lost, pro-rated for any partial acres of lost habitat.
- Bird nest removal from building structures is allowed under city ordinance as long as the landowner is in compliance with the Federal Migratory Species Treaty Act.
- For more information about the federal law and how to obtain a depredation permit, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Bird Program at 303-236-8155.
- If you have a bear or mountain lion in your yard now, please call the Boulder Police Department at 303-441-3333.
- For information, resources, or to report an urban wildlife sighting, email Urban Wildlife Conservation Coordinator Val Matheson or call 303-441-3004.
- Report a past wildlife sighting online.
- For educational programs, call the Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department at 303-441-3440 or Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-297-1192.
- Sign up for email updates about the wildlife plan.
Urban Wildlife Menu
The purpose of Urban Wildlife Management Plan is to establish a set of policies and guidelines for managing wildlife within Boulder.
Learn about requirements and best practices for securing waste and bear safety.