Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Tom Blickensderfer (303) 866-3157
Todd Malmsbury (303) 866-4901
(DENVER) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today announced that the black-tailed prairie dog no longer meets the Endangered Species Act's definition of "threatened" and thus it is removing the black-tailed prairie dog as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
"This is a victory for sound science," said Gov. Bill Owens. "Today's decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illustrates the importance of solid data in the policy- making process."
This re-evaluation by the USFWS is the result of new information from states and other entities about the range-wide impact of disease, chemical control, and the number of acres of occupied black-tailed prairie dog habitat. On February 4, 2000, the USFWS published notice that the status of the black-tailed prairie dog warranted its listing. The Service based this decision on the existence of several threats to the species and on information that assumed the black-tailed prairie dog occupied about 90,000 acres in Eastern Colorado.
A study funded by the State of Colorado in 2001 found that the prairie dog occupied at minimum 215,000 acres east of the Continental Divide, more than double the amount of occupied acreage assumed by the USFWS. A second aerial count of the prairie dog habitat conducted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) in 2002 found 636,000 acres of occupied Black Tailed Prairie Dog habitat in Eastern Colorado.
Through its species conservation program, the DOW has committed more than $1 million for cooperative efforts with landowners to protect shortgrass prairie habitat to benefit the black-tailed prairie dog and associated shortgrass prairie species.
"In delisting the black-tailed prairie dog, the federal government has demonstrated that solid science and sensible conservation measures are the underpinnings of the Endangered Species Act," said Tom Blickensderfer, endangered species program director for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. "The Colorado Division of Wildlife has put their best science forward, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has honored their good work."
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