Once endangered, Utah prairie dog population booms
Aug 9, 2023, 12:30 PM
(Utah Division of Wildlife)
SALT LAKE CITY — After decades of being endangered, Utah’s prairie dog population is rapidly growing. The population saw a 50% increase from last year growing to 69,000.
Patrick Anderson, a Utah Prairie Dog Management Biologist with the Department of Wildlife Resources said they have been busy trapping the animals on graveyards and farming land.
“We’ve trapped 750 prairie dogs so far in Iron County alone, and last year in total we trapped 838 prairie dogs. So, we’ve trapped in one month what we trapped in three months last year,” said Anderson.
In the 80s, the species went from endangered to threatened. They are still protected under the Endangered Species Act, even with a growing prairie dog population.
“The numbers have actually been in decline for a little bit due to drought, so the water really helped out the prairie dogs.” said Anderson. The wet winter increased vegetation creating more food for the prairie dogs.
According to the DWS, the animals are caught using non-lethal traps and relocated to protected properties.