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Prairie dogs are an essential part of our prairies—among the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The Prairie Dog Coalition is committed to the protection of prairie dogs and their habitats.

Prairie Dog Status Report

Over the last century, prairie dogs have lost most of their native habitat to agriculture and urban development. Ongoing prairie dog extermination campaigns and disease have also contributed to plummeting prairie dog populations. As a keystone species for the prairies, entire ecosystems rely upon prairie dogs to thrive. Here's the latest on how the five species of prairie dogs are faring (adapted from WildEarth Guardians' Report from the Burrow 2014).

  • The black-tailed prairie dog population once numbered in the billions. The HSUS

  • They have lost much of their habitat to agriculture. Eva Bareis

  • One member of a relocated colony in Wyoming. Kathy Milani/The HSUS

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

Black-tailed prairie dogs have been eliminated from up to 99 percent of their historic range in the last 150 years. Prairie dogs have little or no immunity to plague, a disease that continues to decimate their colonies. Poisoning and shooting of black-tailed prairie dogs continues unabated since the species was last denied endangered species status in 2009.

Learn more about black-tailed prairie dogs
Status report from fws.gov

  • Gunnison's prairie dogs occupy only a fraction of their original habitat. Sharyn Davidson

  • They are found in parts of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Sharyn Davidson

Gunnison's Prairie Dog

Land development, oil and gas drilling, and plague are particular threats to the Gunnison’s prairie dog, whose population has dropped by 98 to 99 percent across its historic range. Shooting, poisoning, and habitat loss continue to contribute to the species' decline. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service must decide by 2016 whether to protect Gunnison's prairie dogs under the Endangered Species Act.

Learn more about Gunnison's prairie dogs
Status report from fws.gov

  • A population count is underway for Mexican prairie dogs. Keith Geluso

Mexican Prairie Dog

The Mexican government outlawed killing Mexican prairie dogs in 2004, and the species is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act as "endangered." The biggest threat to Mexican prairie dogs is the loss of habitat to agriculture, including plantations of maguay (an agave plant), nopal (a cactus), and potato farms. In some parts of their range, they are also affected by ongoing drought.

Learn more about Mexican prairie dogs

  • As of 2012, the Utah prairie dog population was about 15,800. Elaine Miller Bond

  • Their population once numbered around 95,000. Elaine Miller Bond

Utah Prairie Dog

Although they are listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, Utah prairie dogs still face habitat loss, plague, and livestock grazing in their habitat. The FWS finalized a recovery plan for Utah prairie dogs in April 2012; the plan emphasizes colony conservation, establishing additional colonies via habitat improvement or translocation, controlling plague, and monitoring habitat conditions.

Learn more about Utah prairie dogs
Status report from fws.gov

  • The range of white-tailed prairie dogs has gone down by more than 90 percent.

White-tailed Prairie Dog

White-tailed prairie dogs are found in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and a small area of southern Montana. The majority (56 percent) of their remaining habitat is on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, much of which is leased for oil and gas drilling. The FWS denied the white-tailed prairie dog Endangered Species Act protection in 2010. Conservation organizations have submitted a legal notice of intent to challenge this negative finding.

Learn more about white-tailed prairie dogs
Status report from fws.gov