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Prairie Dog


Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus); Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni)

Principal Biologist(s)

Dustin Long

Project Location

Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico; Bad River Ranches, South Dakota; Z-Bar Ranch, Kansas

Conservation Problem

The range-wide decline of all prairie dog species is attributable to:

  • Non-native disease—sylvatic plague (Yersinia pestis).
  • Loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation.
  • Human persecution (e.g. poisoning and shooting).

Conservation Status

Both the black-tailed and Gunnison’s prairie dogs have been candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Neither species is currently listed nor afforded any significant state protection in New Mexico, South Dakota, or Kansas.

Project Goals & Objectives

Prairie dogs are a keystone species whose presence on the landscape has a profound positive effect on biodiversity. The primary goal of TESF’s prairie dog restoration project is to provide sufficient habitat to support a stable population of black-footed ferrets. Black-footed ferrets are an endangered obligate predator of prairie dogs that require large, disease-free prairie dog complexes in order to survive.


Project Background