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Tea company agrees to stop poisoning prairie dogs

While it is legal to poison or shoot prairie dogs in Colorado if they are causing property damage, the pro-prairie dog community in Boulder was outraged over Celestial Seasonings' actions   

June 8, 1999
Web posted at: 11:45 AM EDT

In response to public and internal outrage over the poisoning of prairie dogs on their property, Boulder, Colorado-based tea company Celestial Seasonings has changed its policy on prairie dog management and protesters have called off a boycott of the company's tea.

Last week, Celestial Seasonings admitted to poisoning prairie dogs as part of its routine landscape maintenance program. "We definitely poisoned the prairie dogs as part of a procedure to manage the population," said Blake Waltrip, vice president of Marketing and general manager of Beverages at Celestial Seasonings. "We are extremely regretful and sorry it happened."

While it is legal to poison or shoot prairie dogs in Colorado if they are causing property damage, the pro-prairie dog community in Boulder was outraged when the company, noted for its environmentally friendly practices, didn't look into relocating the animals.

According to Waltrip, the prairie dogs were poisoned because they were building homes too close to the tea manufacturing plant and company headquarters on its 35-acre campus.

Members of the Boulder community and employees of Celestial Seasonings alike expressed disappointment in the tea-manufacturing company after news of the poisoning hit news stands last week. Waltrip, who claimed to be personally disappointed, called a meeting with Rocky Mountain Animal Defense to get help in creating a new prairie dog management policy.

"Hopefully through the action plan, we can be a model for companies who are handling delicate environmental issues," said Waltrip. The animal defense group lifted their boycott of the company's tea in light of the new company policy.

Under the new plan, prairie dogs will not be poisoned and the company will consider adopting prairie dogs relocated from other areas. Also, the company started an environmental grant program, which will award $50,000 to local environmental and wildlife organizations, and guests on a tour of the tea plant will be educated on prairie dog conservation. The company also will not continue to allow parking on the land where the prairie dogs live.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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