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Conservation groups push for protection of black-tailed prairie dog

August 2, 2007
Santa Fe New Mexican
In This Release
Wildlife   Black-tailed prairie dog
#EndTheWarOnWildlife, #ProtectPrairieDogEmpires
Santa Fe, NM – NM – based WildEarth Guardians and three other conservation groups are seeking protection for the black-tailed prairie dog under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The groups filed a formal petition this week with U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for protection of the species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided in 2004 that the black-tailed prairie dog was not a candidate for ESA listing, and WildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuit over the decision in February. The petition filed this week claims there are flaws in the federal agency’s decision.

The black-tailed prairie dog is found in 10 states, including New Mexico, and in Mexico. The animal has been killed off in Arizona.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to reconsider federal protection for two other species of prairie dogs – the Gunnison’s prairie dog in the Four Corners area and the white-tailed prairie dog in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The groups say the Bush administration has pressured agency staff not to give endangered species protection to prairie dogs.

In another effort to protect the prairie dog, People for Native Ecosystems is looking for donations to remove prairie dogs from the corner of St. Michael’s Drive and Pacheco Street.

Jan Kerr of the organization estimated it will take $30,000 to remove the animals from the area where they are often are hit by cars while the prairie dogs are crossing streets.

She said the landowner, BGK Properties, wants the prairie dogs removed immediately. But because some begin hibernating in August, Kerr said, “we are encouraging BGK to wait until next spring to allow us … to do a complete removal.”

Donations can be send to People for Native Ecosystems, P.O. Box 4973, Santa Fe, NM 87502-4973.

Copyright 2007 The New Mexican – Reprinted with permission