|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
July 21, 2004
Neill Hartman 303-236-7791
SETTLEMENT REACHED ON ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT VIOLATION IN CEDAR CITY, UTAH
An individual responsible for killing hundreds of Utah prairie dogs, a Federally-designated threatened species, formally admitted to committing four counts of violating the Endangered Species Act as charged in a Notice of Assessment. As part of the Settlement Agreement signed in July 2004, the individual paid a negotiated civil penalty of $8,000, which will be placed into the Endangered Species Act Reward account. These funds can be used as rewards for information leading to an arrest, a criminal conviction, civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property for a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
In August of 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated an investigation into the disappearance of an estimated 250 Utah prairie dogs on the Cedar Ridge Golf Course in Cedar City, Utah. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reported to Service agents that summer population counts around the golf course had documented only three Utah prairie dogs. In August 1999, biologists estimated there should have been over 250 prairie dogs in the area. In April 2003, after an extensive investigation, the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Civil Penalty - Notice of Assessment charging the responsible party with 4 counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. The charges were for 1) participating in filling, covering, and otherwise destroying Utah prairie dog burrows, 2) soliciting and causing others to take (kill) or attempt to take Utah prairie dogs, 3) shooting at, wounding, and killing Utah prairie dogs with a pellet rifle, and 4) running down Utah prairie dogs with a golf cart. Each count carried a maximum civil penalty of $25,000.
Individuals having information on violations of fish and wildlife laws are encouraged to contact the nearest State Conservation Officer or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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