Angry animal rights activists are facing off against a Buddhist college in Boulder, Colo. after school officials applied for a lethal control permit to kill approximately 100 prairie dogs on school property.
The scene of the rodent ruffle is Naropa University, reports the Daily Camera, the main local daily newspaper.
On Thursday, a group of protesters delivered a petition urging amnesty for the prairie dogs to Naropa officials. Over 140,000 prairie dog defenders had signed the petition as of Friday evening.
“Mommy, I heard that Naropa University is going to have all of us killed,” the petition begins. There is a photo of a young prairie dog next to an adult prairie dog. The two rodents appear to be embracing.
School officials applied for a lethal control permit from the city of Boulder this summer. They want to rid the burrowing rat-like creatures from one of Naropa’s three campuses — a small, 2.5-acre plot of land which sits in east Boulder adjacent to a run-down mobile home park and a large self-storage facility.
“The petition is to ask Naropa to withdraw that lethal application and in return we will work collaboratively with the university to ensure that the city or the county opens up lands on their open space properties,” WildLands Defense spokeswoman Deanna Meyer told the Camera. “We’re very confident we would be able to get those lands opened up for the relocation of their prairie dogs.”
Administrators at Naropa swear they have no intention of killing any prairie dogs even though they sought a permit to kill prairie dogs.
They only want to relocate the herbivorous burrowing rodents to a location off the campus, they say.
“We were legitimately hoping that this would spur the community to help us identity some slots and I would say that we are deeply disappointed that despite making all these great efforts, not one option came forward,” Naropa spokesman Bill Rigler told the Camera.
Rigler, currently a candidate for a Boulder city council seat, said school officials have for four years tried in vain to find a new home for the prairie dogs — spending over $100,000 in the process.
“We’ve absolutely gone way above and beyond what others have done and yet still we’re being attacked for it by groups who aren’t even from Boulder,” Rigler charged.
Meyer, the animal welfare activist, said she is skeptical.
“It is a Buddhist university and the fact that a Buddhist university would even apply for a lethal application for prairie dogs is totally against any Buddhist concepts,” she told the newspaper. “You don’t do that. You don’t kill animals. So that inspired a lot of people like, ‘Are you kidding me? A Buddhist university is going to kill the native populations there? Why?'”
She added that people all over the globe are concerned about the vermin.
Also, Buddhists generally believe that it is wrong to kill living beings.
In any case, “the permit has not yet been issued,” according to Boulder urban wildlife conservation coordinator Val Matheson.
Prairie dogs are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Naropa University describes itself as a “Buddhist-inspired, student-centered liberal arts university” which emphasizes “professional and personal growth, intellectual development, and contemplative practice.”
The private, nonprofit college was established in 1974 by Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa. It is home to about 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students.