Prairie dog population 'healthy'Despite receiving a failing grade from the environmental group, WildEarth Guardians, in a report released this week, officials say North Dakota’s prairie dog population is healthy.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
Despite receiving a failing grade from the environmental group, WildEarth Guardians, in a report released this week, officials say North Dakota’s prairie dog population is healthy.
Bill Whitworth, chief of resource management for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which has about 1,800 acres of prairie dog habitat, said things are fine.
“Statewide there’s certainly less than there was 300 years ago, but the general health of the existing colonies is pretty good I think,” Whitworth said.
The study graded various land management agencies, and a dozen states on their actions to protect prairie dogs.
Arden Warm, district wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service in Dickinson, said prairie dog populations have actually expanded over the past year from the drought.
A 2006 survey conducted by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a minimum of 22,000 acres of prairie dog habitat throughout the state.
“And with 5-10 dogs per acre, the population is surely viable,” Patrick Isakson, a non-game animal biologist said. “From the work that we’ve done in the last ten years we don’t think there is any reason to believe we do not have a viable population,” Isakson said.
Whitworth said with studies like this there are a variety of factors that come into play and it’s pretty difficult to get a good grade. However, the National Park Service received a “B.”
“I think the way to get an ‘A’ is to not have any control whatsoever,” Whitworth said.