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SD Supreme Court Hears Prairie Dog Appeal

October 3, 2011, 4:49 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

SD Supreme Court Hears Prairie Dog Appeal
MITCHELL, SD - Three dozen West River ranchers asked the South Dakota Supreme Court Monday to reinstate a lawsuit against the state for the damage prairie dogs did to their land. 

An attorney for the ranchers says state law requires state officials to control prairie dogs on public lands and to pay for damage done to private lands.

An attorney representing the Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the Secretary of Agriculture says that the state is not liable for damage done by wildlife.

"The appellants are certainly not the first litigants to attempt to recover from a state for damage caused by wild animals. However, as cited in the appellees brief, every state that's addressed this issue has held that there is no state liability for damage incurred by wild animals," Timothy Engel, an attorney for the state officials, argued.
 
"If the secretaries fail to control prairie dogs thereby causing encroachment onto private property, it constitutes a nuisance," James Hurley, an attorney for the ranchers, said.

A decision in the case is expected at a later date.

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