By Dixie Brunner

A November 4 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson struck down the regulations that prevent the capture, killing or “taking” of the Utah prairie dog in Iron County. The ruling said the United State Fish and Wildlife Service does not have constitutional jurisdiction over the animals.

The issue was one of whether the city, businesses and private landowners had a right to ‘take’ (harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect), the prairie dogs.

Senator Orrin Hatch praised the ruling that strikes down as unconstitutional the Endangered Species Act Regulations that limit the rights of Utah property owners. He applauded the members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Iron County Commission and the people of Iron County.

“The court’s decision confirms what we have said all along,” wrote Hatch, “the federal government has no business interfering with property rights where the allegedly endangered species has no connection to, or effect on, interstate commerce. I will continue to fight the federal government’s unnecessary intrusions in the state of Utah.”

Jonathan Wood, Pacific Legal Foundation Attorney who represented PETPO, said that the non-profit foundation enjoys a good track record in winning cases such as the prairie dog and over-reaching government issue. “We’ve even won seven Supreme Court cases,” said Wood.

Wood said the people of Iron County had been under the restrictive regulation for 40 years. “Cedar City is a community under siege by a proliferation of prairie dogs and by federal regulations that prohibit reasonable measures to control the prairie dog population.”