Wildlife Service Seeks Comments on Prairie Dog Plague Management

PROMO 660 x 440 Animal - Priarie Dog - USFWS
Published Saturday, August 12, 2017

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced options to manage sylvatic plague in Gunnison's prairie dog colonies on the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex in south-central Colorado.

USFWS completed an Environmental Assessment is seeking public comment on the proposal. The environmental assessment analyzes management options, including a No-Action Alternative, to permit Colorado Parks and Wildlife via a Special Use Permit to manage sylvatic plague in Gunnison's prairie dog colonies on the San Luis Valley NWRC. The San Luis Valley NWRC encompasses approximately 112,360 acres comprised of three separate units: Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges. 

The proposed action in the assessment permits CPW to apply a powdered insecticide called Deltamethrin deep into the Gunnison's prairie dogs' burrows. The dust coats the rodents when they enter and exit the burrow system and reduces flea populations, the major known vector of sylvatic plague. In addition, CPW will distribute Sylvatic Plague Vaccine bait to the rodents to protect against plague. 

Sylvatic plague can kill entire prairie dog colonies and could threaten the overall survival of Gunnison's prairie dogs in Colorado. The Gunnison's prairie dog serves a key role in southwest Colorado's ecosystem. They are a food source for many wildlife species such as eagles, hawks and coyotes, and their colonies serve as habitat for the mountain plover, burrowing owl, badger, weasel, snakes, and other wildlife species.

A 30-day comment period for the environmental assessment ends on August 30, 2017. Copies of the assessment are available on the San Luis Valley NWRC website at: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/alamosa/ or by contacting the San Luis Valley NWRC to receive a copy by mail. All comments received during the period will be reviewed by refuge staff.

Comments may be emailed to: scott_g_miller@fws.gov or sent by mail to 
Attn: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Luis Valley NWR Complex, 9383 El Rancho Ln., Alamosa, CO 81101.

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