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Environmental Groups Seek Prairie Dog Protection

Thu Jul 11, 2002

DENVER (Reuters) - Seven U.S. environmental groups on Thursday urged the federal government to list the white-tailed prairie dog as threatened or endangered, saying plague, oil and gas drilling as well as suburban sprawl are decimating the species.

If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes up the cause, the white-tailed prairie dog would become the fourth of five prairie dog species to be listed or granted worthy of listing under the Endangered Species Act because so much of the animal's habitat has disappeared.

The white-tailed species is found in central and western Wyoming, northwestern Colorado, northeastern Utah, and one county in Montana.

While prairie dogs have their protectors, many in the American West view them as vermin. Holes from their "prairie dog towns" can cause cattle to stumble and become injured.

Prairie dogs have no immunity to Sylvatic plague, which was brought to the United States around 1900, the groups said. Oil and gas drilling as well as home building have taken away the animal's habitat.

The Colorado-based Center for Native Ecosystems, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance of Laramie, Wyoming, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the American Lands Alliance in Washington, Forest Guardians in New Mexico, the Ecology Center in Montana and Sinapu in Boulder, Colorado sent the petition to list the species.


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