By MIKE CORN
The comment period closed Monday, but federal regulators still are posting a series of comments made in connection with the registration of the blood-thinning poison Rozol.
As of Thursday, 98 comments had been posted. It's uncertain how many more will appear as the comments are posted by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is reconsidering the registration of Rozol for use on black-tailed prairie dogs.
Several others are known to have been filed, but have not yet been posted.
In addition to the registration issue with Rozol, EPA also is considering the registration of Kaput-D, another blood-thinning chemical and an insecticide, for use on prairie dogs.
When the comments are all posted, work will turn to the EPA to review them all and make a decision on how to proceed in the Rozol case.
"The agency will review the comments that have been submitted," EPA spokesman Dale Kemery was told by the agency's pesticide division. "We have not yet estimated the time frame for completing this process since it would depend on the extent of comments received. After EPA has reviewed the public comments it received on the World Wildlife Fund petition to suspend Rozol Prairie Dog Bait, we'll respond to WWF. We expect to publish that response in the Federal Register."
The World Wildlife Fund, in a letter to EPA, urged reversal of registration for Rozol. The EPA, knowing that a lawsuit was pending, agreed to consider the letter as a petition for reversal and prompted the two-month comment period.
Because the Kaput-D issue is not a review, the decision will be published in the Federal Register for another round of public comments.
"At this time, we cannot estimate the time requirements for either process," Kemery was told.
While the EPA agreed to reconsider its decision on Rozol at the urging of the World Wildlife Fund -- five months after it was received -- it faces another issue in that Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon of Kansas has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the registration was improper.
No trial date has been set.
In the Rozol case, the comments were varied.
Many, including those from county weed directors and the Kansas Livestock Association and Kansas Farm Bureau, urged the EPA to allow the continued use of Rozol on prairie dogs.
One of the comments came from Denny Mackley, Logan County's director of wildlife damage control, which has been ground zero in the Kansas controversy over prairie dogs.
Over the past five years, he said, the county has treated more than 11,600 acres, each one averaging about 50 burrows per acre.
"Those treatments dispersed roughly 69,500 pounds of Rozol prairie dog bait as recommended by label," Mackley said in the EPA comment.
Treatment with Rozol, he said, has been nearly 100 percent effective on land adjoining the ranch where black-footed ferrets were reintroduced.
"The property with the black-footed ferret was treated with zinc phosphide, which proved to be much less effective," Mackley wrote.
Rozol's manufacturer, LiphaTech, filed several comments a well, many of them in response to comments made either in the lawsuit or in the letter filed by WWF.
Comments also came from opponents, many of whom objected to the manner of death caused by the poison.
Prairie dogs, commenters said, "slowly bleed to death -- a cruel and excruciating way to die."
Not yet posted are comments made by Defenders of Wildlife, and a the names of people who signed on to a campaign by the group urging EPA to suspend registration of Rozol.
The two petitions from Defenders contained more than 25,000 names.
Defenders and American Bird Conservancy also filed a joint response, and detailed several legal reasons why EPA improperly registered Rozol.