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September 24, 2009

The HSUS Announces New Prairie Dog Protection Programs

Programs Acquired from Prairie Dog Coalition

The Humane Society of the United States

The Prairie Dog Coalition, which was originally established in 2001 as an alliance of nonprofit organizations, concerned citizens and scientists dedicated to the protection of prairie dogs and restoration of prairie dog ecosystems, this month became a new program of The Humane Society of the United States.

"Prairie dogs have declined by almost 95 percent from their historic numbers," said Lindsey Sterling Krank, director of the new HSUS program. "A healthy prairie dog population is essential to the survival of a number of species and the health of the ecosystem."  

"The future of the prairie dog is at stake as habitat loss and other threats put their survival in danger," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer for The HSUS. "The Humane Society of the United States is pleased to expand our efforts to protect these animals with the addition of Lindsey Sterling Krank and the programs of the Prairie Dog Coalition to our team."

Eight years ago, attendees of the National Prairie Dog Summit in Colorado met to determine what more could be done for the diminishing prairie dog population. These concerned stakeholders formed the Prairie Dog Coalition. The coalition served as a central station for advocates and scientists to come together, prioritize prairie dog conservation goals and address threats to prairie dogs.

The HSUS has major programs to protect wildlife and their habitat, including services to solve urban wildlife conflicts, wildlife rehabilitation and care centers, advocacy programs to stop abusive practices, and its Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust to conserve habitat. Since the PDC and The HSUS worked together in many states throughout the prairie dog's range, the two groups decided to join forces to increase their effectiveness in advocating for prairie dogs.

This is the latest in a series of strategies to increase The HSUS' portfolio of programs and affiliates. In 2005, The HSUS joined with The Fund for Animals. In 2006, The HSUS joined with the Doris Day Animal League. In 2007, The HSUS joined with the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights to create the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. Earlier in 2009, The HSUS joined with the SPCA Wildlife Care Center in Florida, which became the fifth permanent facility providing direct care for animals under The HSUS' umbrella.

Facts about Prairie Dogs

  • Prairie dogs are a key species to nine other species, such as hawks and owls, foxes, endangered black-footed ferrets and many others who depend on prairie dogs for food or their burrows for shelter. Prairie dog populations have declined nearly 95 percent due to habitat loss, government-sanctioned poisoning and shooting.
  • Methods used to kill prairie dogs may be particularly cruel, such as poisons that can take up to 72 hours to kill the animals.
  • Prairie dogs enrich and aerate soil by digging burrows, adding fertilizer and keeping invasive plant species at bay. They are sociable animals with an advanced communication system.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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