Black-tailed Prairie Dogs Denied ESA Protection

Herewith, the summary from today's Federal Register:

We, the U.S. Fish and

Wildlife Service (Service), announce our

12–month finding on a petition to list

the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys

ludovicianus) as threatened or

endangered under the Endangered

Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).

After review of all available scientific

and commercial information, we find

that listing the black-tailed prairie dog

as either threatened or endangered is

not warranted at this time. However, we

ask the public to continue to submit to

us any new information that becomes

available concerning the status of, or

threats to, the black-tailed prairie dog or

its habitat at any time. This information

will help us to monitor and conserve the

species.

And this from Audubon of Kansas re. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 12-month finding that the Black-tailed Prairie Dog is not warranted for listing as a federally threatened or endangered species:

This determination was expected, and in fact it was essentially stated in Ted William's article in the November-December edition of Audubon magazine feature on the controversy surrounding the Black-footed Ferret reintroduction project in Logan County. Although Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are not warranted for listing at this time they are certainly an "at-risk" species of conservation concern throughout the historic range of the species, and the need for maintenance of prairie dog complexes is vital for "prairie ecosystem conservation" to provide for recovery of Black-footed Ferrets and to sustain other associated species including Burrowing Owls, Ferruginous Hawks and Swift Foxes in portions of their respective ranges.

The Federal Register publication won't "tell you everything you want to know" about prairie dogs, but it has a lot of information. Most of it is probably reasonably accurate, but I question some of the methodology used to arrive at population estimates in some states, and the absence of current data to arrive at the acreage figures offered--especially for Kansas.

If many county commissions take the approach of the Logan County Commission, which is trying to eradicate the species, Black-tailed Prairie Dogs may soon be warranted for listing as a threatened species in Kansas.

Most of our focus at the Black-footed Ferret Recovery Implementation Team Executive Committee meeting these past two days has been on the need for incentive programs to offer private landowners to provide for "prairie ecosystem conservation for ferret recovery through prairie dog management." As we all know, very few landowners are willing to do what the Haverfields and Barnhardts have done.

Ron Klataske

Executive Director, Audubon of Kansas