A dog day report card

 

For the rest of the country, Monday was Groundhog Day. But for Westerners, it was Prairie Dog Day. And the rodent’s in trouble all over the region, as bulldozers roll over its habitat, ranchers drop poison, and shooters go for target practice. Prairie dogs are now found in less than 10 percent of their original range, which causes problems for the animals and birds that depend on dog towns. The burrows provide homes for burrowing owls and several amphibians and reptiles, and the rodents themselves are tasty meals for hawks, eagles, and foxes. They’re also the mainstay of the endangered black-footed ferret. Of the five species of prairie dog, two (the Utah and the Mexican) are already on the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that the other three, the black-tailed, white-tailed, and Gunnison's, may deserve protection as well.

Now, WildEarth Guardians has released its annual report card on prairie dog management. None of the 12 states and three federal agencies rated got a gold star – in fact, the average grade was a D. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service got a C-, while the BLM received a D-. Of the Western states, Arizona comes closest to being a honor student -- it gets a B for reintroduction efforts. But most of the rest, including Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Montana, rated D+ to D- for failing to take any steps toward prairie dog recovery.

Lauren McCain of WildEarth Guardians highlighted the irony of federal and state prairie dog policy: “… agencies have financed and encouraged the poisoning of prairie dogs over the years while pumping millions of dollars into recovery efforts aimed at other species that rely on the prairie dog.”

Describing a once-vibrant dog town in Montana, journalist Mark Matthews said it best:  “All I do know is that without the dogs, the other species are gone or scarce, and a lonely country is even lonelier.”

High Country News Classifieds
  • PROGRAM OFFICER, INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, NOVO FOUNDATION
    The Foundation NoVo Foundation acts from the original meaning of philanthropy: the love of humanity. The Foundation is dedicated to catalyzing a global social transformation...
  • ARMY OF THE DOG
    A new generation of monkey wrenchers hits the Front Range?
  • ANNIE CLARK TANNER FELLOWSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL HUMANITIES
    The Tanner Humanities Center and the Environmental Humanities Program of the University of Utah seek an environmental writer to offer classes in Utahs Environmental Humanities...
  • ALASKA STATE DIRECTOR
    The Wilderness Society works to protect Wildlands and inspire Americans to care for our public lands. We seek to hire a strategic, experienced leader who...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) seeks an individual to lead this 45-year-old organization as executive director, to carry on ICLs work as Idahos leading voice...
  • IDAHO RIVERFRONT:
    2+ acres, 400+ feet on Snake River, 2800 sf residence, NWF-certified wildlife habitat, excellent hunting, fishing, birdwatching, stargazing, sunsets & panoramic views. In the heart...
  • WILDEARTH GUARDIANS IS EXPANDING - THREE JOB OPENINGS
    Guardians is expanding and looking for a few great people to join us in protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health...
  • SUNNYSIDE MARKET SEEKS NEW PROPRIETOR
    Organic grocery/cafe at Glacier Bay needs a vibrant leader. Love good food, community, and Alaska? Join us!
  • NO INDIVIDUAL HEROES: OURAY MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAM
    Ouray County, Colorado, a popular tourist destination, has dramatic mountains and amazing winter ice climbing. Challenging terrain and high altitude can push visitors to their...
  • CALIFORNIA PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - TAHOE AREA
    National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time California Program Associate-Tahoe Area. Position works closely with California-based program staff and National Forest Foundation staff to provide...
  • CALIFORNIA PROGRAM COORDINATOR - TAHOE AREA
    National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time California Program Coordinator-Tahoe Area. Position works closely with California-based program staff and National Forest Foundation staff to provide...
  • CALIFORNIA PROGRAM MANAGER - TAHOE AREA
    National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time California Program Manager-Tahoe Area. Position works closely with California-based program staff and National Forest Foundation staff to provide...
  • CALIFORNIA PROGRAM ASSOCIATE, SOUTHERN CA
    National conservation organization seeks a regular, full-time California Program Associate-Southern CA. Position works closely with California-based program staff and National Forest Foundation staff to provide...
  • THE BOOK OF BARLEY -
    Collector's Item! The story of barley, the field crop. 50 years of non-fiction research. www.barleybook.com
  • TEMPORARY ASSISTANT EDITOR
    Are you a climber and a writer who is passionate about mountain literature? Do you love searching through old alpine journals for stories of esoteric...
  • OWN YOUR OWN CANYON - 1400 SF STRAW-BALE ECO-HOME ON 80 ACRES - 3 HOURS FROM L.A.
    1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • GRASSROOTS LEADERSHIP DIRECTOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a full-time grassroots leadership director to oversee all aspects of the Grassroots Leadership Program. This includes ongoing development of...
  • RIVER TRIP LEADER & EDUCATOR
    Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a growing nonprofit organization fostering community stewardship of our National Conservation Lands with a focus on Dominguez-Escalante, Gunnison Gorge and...
  • RIVER GUIDE AND EDUCATOR
    Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a growing nonprofit organization fostering community stewardship of our National Conservation Lands with a focus on Dominguez-Escalante, Gunnison Gorge and...
  • POLICY AND RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
    The Center for Western Priorities (CWP) is a nonpartisan communications and policy center that serves as a source of accurate information, promotes responsible policies and...