Document Type


Publication Date



prairie dog, south dakota, prairie dog management

Extension Number

ExEx 8163


Plant Science


The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus Ord) is a native rodent found throughout the short- and mixed-grass prairies of North America. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USDI USFWS 2006) estimated that black-tailed prairie dogs occupied about 1,842,000 acres in 2004. Of that, over 411,400 acres were located in South Dakota. Prairie dogs are clearly valuable as a component of grassland ecosystems, providing habitat to a number of plant and animal species. Prairie dogs clip vegetation short within their towns to enhance their ability to see predators (King 1955). As a result, they compete with livestock for forage on the grasslands of South Dakota (Stoltenberg et al. 2004), leading to substantial losses to ranchers when prairie dog towns are large (Beutler et al. 2005). Many producers have decided that, in order to prevent serious losses of livestock forage on their pastures, they must control/manage prairie dog numbers. Once a producer has made the decision to manage prairie dog numbers, it is extremely important that they understand 1) the biology of prairie dogs, 2) factors that affect their spread onto new rangelands, 3) control options and appropriate/legal meth¬ods, 4) regulations regarding timing of control and methods allowed, and 5) non-prairie dog considerations.