Prairie Dog Extermination Stirs Debate

Some residents in a homeowners association in Parker are up in arms after the board allegedly exterminated prairie dogs with toxic gas in the open space behind their homes.

The article emphasizes the dilemma that many associations face with prairie dogs in their communities. If an association does nothing, the prairie dog population can grow, spread to homeowner yards and wreak havoc. Not only can they cause extensive damage to lawns and landscaping, but many are also known to carry various diseases.   So, what is a board of directors supposed to do when faced with a prairie dog issue? First, although some residents are certain to disagree with whatever action is taken, a board is required to act ‘in the best interest of the association’. This means that their decisions are not subject to a valid challenge unless they take action which is objectively arbitrary or unreasonable.   Although some residents may feel that prairie dogs should be relocated rather than exterminated, neither action would likely be deemed unreasonable absent some municipal law or regulation requiring that the issue be addressed in a specific manner. 

The best practice in this case would be for a board, in an open forum with homeowner feedback, to discuss the pros and cons of keeping versus exterminating or removing the prairie dogs and also weigh the expense and effectiveness of alternative means for eliminating them.  It is also not a bad idea to have representatives from the extermination company and/or removal service to answer any questions that board members and residents may have about the process. 

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