CEDAR CITY, Utah – It’s a plan that will allow property owners more access to prairie dog removal. This week, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources unveiled their management plan for the Utah prairie dog.
The federal government had managed the prairie dog since its placement on the endangered species list in 1973. In November 2014, a federal judge gave management to the state. Property owners in Iron County who have been fighting to remove the animals from their land say the state proposal is a step toward getting their property rights back.
“Its fantastic,” says property owner Bruce Hughes. "This has never been about whether we like prairie dogs or want to get rid of prairie dogs, this has always been about the impact the prairie dog had on private property.”
In general, under the proposed management plan, a formula will calculate the number of prairie dogs that can be taken each year based on a yearly spring count. Under the federal mandate, that number was immovable. Also, methods of removal and relocation will be more accessible.
“This is not going to throw wide open the doors for removing prairie dogs from non-public land in Utah,” says DWR community outreach coordinator Lynn Chamberlain. “It will establish new guidelines for the permitted take of prairie dogs on private and state lands.”
Chamberlain says the proposed management plan aims to give property owners more control over removing the animals from their property, with an overall goal of completely de-listing the Utah prairie dog as a threatened species.
That proposal is being presented for public comment. The Utah DWR is holding a number of public meetings throughout the state to help gather that comment.
Public meeting times and locations are as follows:
Brigham City Community Center
- N. 300 W.
DWR Central Region Conference Center
1115 N. Main St.
DWR Northeastern Region Office
318 N. Vernal Ave.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
Cedar City Middle School
2215 W. Royal Hunte Dr.