Lawton bans feeding prairie dogs

The city is now making it illegal for you to feed the prairie dogs. It's their latest attempt to control the prairie dog population at Elmer Thomas Park and soon there will be signs up in the park warning you not to feed them -- or you could be faced with a fine and 60 days in jail. They say there won't be any officers on patrol, making sure people don't toss some bread or popcorn on the ground, but they hope this will change the attitude people have toward those prairie dogs. Think of it as going to the zoo -- you can't feed the animals there either.

"We all know that their diet doesn't consist of Cheetos and Fritos and Orville Redenbacher popcorn, and all the things that they've been eating," said Council Member Randy Warren. "And it's true that the more you feed them, the more that they're going to produce."

While the city wants to control the population, the Humane Society recently reported there are far fewer prairie dogs in the park than the original estimate of five thousand.  "But I was surprised to hear that as of now, they're best estimate is 1,200," said Mayor John Purcell. "She thinks we got rid of a lot with our last episode."

Council Members say that without your help -- the population could grow again, which would only harm the prairie dogs. "Feeding them is inhumane and cruel to the prairie dog," Purcell said. So now it is illegal to feed prairie dogs -- and if you do, you could be faced with a 60-day jail sentence and a fine. But city council says they do not want to enforce those strict punishments -- they just want to control the population. "Most zoos or parks that you go to have signs that say don't feed the animals," said Council Member Janice Drewry. "I don't think we're doing anything different here. I think we just put signs up and ask people not to do it, but I don't want to throw anyone in jail."