Prairie Dog Hunting Changes
To help avert prairie dogs from being listed as a federally threatened species, the G&F is proposing changing the status of both the black-tailed and white-tailed prairie dog from unprotected to regulated. The season would be closed from March 1 - June 14 on federal lands, except for a portion of the Thunder Basin National Grassland designated as a black-footed ferret reintroduction site, which would be closed yearlong. The season would also be closed on G&F habitat areas. Private land and state school sections would be open to prairie dog shooting all year.

Reg Rothwell, the G&F's supervisor of Biological Services, says although only the black-tailed prairie dog has been petitioned for listing as a threatened species, the white-tailed prairie dog of central and western Wyoming is being proposed for inclusion in the regulation.

"If the white-tailed prairie dog were left unprotected, we fear a lot of the shooting pressure may shift to it during the closure," Rothwell said. "The two species also look fairly similar, so it would be easier for both shooters and management to cover both with the regulation."

He adds there is also "strong indication" that a petition for listing may be filed on the white-tailed prairie dog. "If that happens, the regulation will give Wyoming a head start in developing a management plan to avoid a federal listing for that species," Rothwell said.

Under the proposal, prairie dog shooters would be required to obtain a free permit from the G&F. The permit would allow the agency to survey shooters and estimate the degree of shooting recreation. Landowners and lessees would be exempt from the permit requirement while shooting on their own property.

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