A group of Burleson prairie dogs took an unexpected 350-mile road trip recently at Chesapeake Energy's expense.
As the energy company developed plans to drill six natural gas wells on a 45-acre vacant field near Burleson's city golf course, it came to light that the area is home to a colony of black tailed prairie dogs, Elizabeth Campbell wrote in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram .
Chesapeake, perhaps deciding the optics of poisoning the sixteen prairie dogs would be bad, instead decided to relocate them to their natural habitat in west Texas with the help of a wildlife consultant. (According to Campbell, the rodents are not native to North Central Texas.)
"Although these prairie dogs might not have been hampered by our activities, development is going to take place and we thought they would be better off in a different place," said Justin Bond, a project manager for Chesapeake, told Campbell.
Lynda Watson, who Campbell describes as a "dedicated defender of prairie dogs" for her work relocating them for 30 years, helped Chesapeake with their rodent problem.
The story says relocating prairie dogs is a "delicate process" but then provides an unsatisfying amount of detail on how it was actually done. While the drought made the prairie dogs more difficult to place, the Burleson colony was moved to "an undisclosed location north of Lubbock" (perhaps a version of prairie dog witness protection) in November, Campbell wrote.
In the story's comments, Gena Seaberg praised Chesapeake for the company's environmental stewardship."Way to go Chesapeake Energy! I hope you know that people are the world are seeing your actions as a positive, responsible, and eco-tourism friendly way to preserve and take care of land for future generations," she wrote.
Another commenter faulted the paper for not knowing that prairie dog's natural range extends into the Fort Worth area. "Blithely passing on anything Chesapeake's PR people tell you makes you look bad!" the commenter wrote. "If the Star-Telegram cannot be bothered to fact check a simple and obvious thing like whether prairie dogs are native to Fort Worth, how likely is it that they fact check ANYTHING that Chesapeake tells them?"