Prairie Dogs Still Fully Protected in Utah

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Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Press Release

A recent court decision has left some in southern Utah wondering whether the Utah prairie dog, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, is still protected in the state. The answer is yes. Although the court ruling invalidated federal protections on state and private lands, Utah prairie dogs are still fully protected by Utah state law.

Unless you have a certificate of registration from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, you may not kill or remove a Utah prairie dog.

The ruling by federal judge Dee Benson returned management authority for Utah prairie dogs that are on non-federal land in Utah back to the state. DWR director Greg Sheehan is happy about the ruling.

“We have a strong history of successfully protecting and conserving sensitive wildlife species,” Sheehan stated. “We’ll continue to use our resources and the expertise of our biologists to manage Utah prairie dogs. Our goal is to work cooperatively, with local officials and property owners in southern Utah, to ensure that the species continues to be an important part of the landscape.”

While conservation actions have helped Utah prairie dogs immensely, Sheehan said that the species still needs protection. “We’re committed to working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local government to collaboratively develop a balanced and responsible management strategy,” Sheehan explained.

Sheehan says the DWR’s strategy will be focused on the following three things:

  • Ensuring the viability and continued persistence of Utah prairie dogs into the future.
  • Safeguarding the health, safety, welfare and property of communities in areas where Utah prairie dogs live.
  • Complimenting the conservation work the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are doing on federal lands.

 

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