A federal judge has rejected Washington’s claim that prairie dogs have a “substantial” impact on “interstate commerce,” throwing out a special rule protecting their burrows on private land in Utah and thus allowing property owners there to resume use of their own lands.
The decision was praised by officials with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which argued the case against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others, on behalf of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners.
“This ruling frees the people of Cedar City from unconstitutional regulations that made it impossible for them to build their dream homes, defend their airport, and protect the sanctity of their loved ones’ final resting places,” said PLF staff attorney Jonathan Wood.
“Now, these property owners, and the local governments, needn’t fear the heavy hand of the federal government when they use and maintain their property, and do what most of us take for granted,” he said in a statement released Thursday.
The issue was that federal bureaucrats had designated the Utah prairie dog, a rodent that lives only in Utah but has a population there of tens of thousands of animals, as protected.