|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
January 3, 2002
John Neal 801-625-5570
Karen Miranda Gleason 303-236-7917, x431
FEDERAL JUDGE LEVIES $15,000 PENALTY AGAINST LAND DEVELOPER
FOR TAKING THREATENED UTAH PRAIRIE DOGS
On December 21, 2001, U.S. Department of the Interior Administrative Law Judge Patricia McDonald upheld a $15,000 civil penalty assessment against Lin Drake, of Drake Enterprises, for the taking of Utah prairie dogs, a threatened species, in Enoch, Utah. The term "take" means to harass, harm, pursue, hurt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.
Judge McDonald found that between December 1995 and March 1996, Drake knowingly took approximately 74 Utah prairie dogs by altering and destroying land inhabited by the threatened species.
In early October 1995 and again in February 1996, Drake, a residential land developer near the Cedar City area of southern Utah, was notified formally by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the location of the prairie dogs and the laws governing threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Drake was also made aware of an option to develop a habitat conservation plan (HCP) which would address several issues, including allowing development on private lands with efforts in place to compensate for lost prairie dog habitat. Drake chose not to participate in this effort while several other landowners in the area developed and had approved an HCP for their property. In her finding the administrative judge reiterated that Drake committed the violation while constructing a residential development for financial gain, that he did not mitigate, but instead aggravated the violation by attempting to obliterate any visible evidence of Utah prairie dogs on the site.
Drake has 30 days to appeal the decision to the U.S. Department of the Interiors Office of Hearings and Appeals.
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