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National Wildlife Control Training Program vol. 1.

Prairie Dog Control

Scientific Names Blacktailed Prairie Dog.

Cynomys ludovicianus, Black-tailed Prairie Dog

Cynomys mexicanus, Mexican Prairie Dog

Cynomys gunnisoni, Gunnison's Prairie Dog

Cynomys parvidens, Utah Prairie Dog

Cynomys leucurus, White-tailed Prairie Dog

Biology

  • Does Not Hibernate
  • Lives in dry grasslands
  • Diurnal

Sign

  • Black-tailed prairie dogs exist in dense colonies and create 30 to 50 6-inch wide burrows and associated mounds per acre.
  • Bean-sized cylindrical droppings at margin of mounds.
  • Grasses and broad-leaved plants clipped at one-inch height or clipped and left on
  • Claw marks may be seen on snow.

Damage

  • Short- and long-term damage to grasslands via eating and digging; occasional damage to adjacent fields of growing alfalfa, corn, sugar beet and other croplands.

  • Tree Damage Occasional bark stripping occurs on shrubs within prairie dog colonies.
  • Structural Damage: occasional breach of canals, dikes and earthen dams via digging

Solutions

Habitat modifications

  • Grassland management. Proper grazing use--rotate livestock through pasture systems, avoid season-long grazing but graze early spring, place salt and water for livestock away from prairie dog towns; exclude livestock for several seasons post control of prairie dogs.
  • No evidence that fencing works.

Repellents

  • Some minor effects have been shown by placing poles and other perch sites for large hawks and barrier fences, hay bales and other obstacles for that prey upon prairie dogs.

Trapping

  • Cage traps, raccoon size can be effective but have limited usefulness for large colonies.
  • Body-gripping traps (120 size) are more efficient than cage traps, provided their use is legal and safe in your area.

Shooting

  • Particularly during breeding season through pup raising (January through June).
  • Condition prairie dogs with a propane cannon to get them accustomed to hearing loud noises prior to shooting.

Toxicants/Fumigants

  • Use poison grain baits followed by fumigants; prairie dogs require fresh, common baits, such as grains first to habituate them to take the toxic bait.
  • Fumigants containing the active ingredient (phosphine gas) are highly regulated. Obtain necessary permits before using.

 

Fumigants as pellets or tablets
Description: Commonly use Aluminum phosphide as an active ingredient. Read label to see which burrowing rodents can be controlled.
Photo Credits: Dallas Virchow
 

Gas Cartridges used for burrowing rodents
Description: Follow all safety directions. Use a screwdriver to punch end and stir contents. Insert and light fuse. Seal to contain gases.
Photo Credits: Used with permission from Univ. of CA. Statewide IPM Project, W.P. Gorenzel, photographer
 

Lighting the gas cartridge
Description: Follow all safety directions. Wooden match sticks or butane lighters work better in winds. Use flexible plastic tube to fully insert cartridge deep into burrows.
Photo Credits: Used with permission from Univ. of CA. Statewide IPM Project, W.P. Gorenzel, photographer
 

Sealing the burrow
Description: Seal burrow entrances to keep any smoke (gases) from escaping. Best used with high soil moisture and moderate temperatures.
Photo Credits: Used with permission from Univ. of CA. Statewide IPM Project, W.P. Gorenzel, photographer
 

Diseases-Safety

  • Health Hazard Local colonies of prairie dogs readily succumb to bubonic plague.
  • Safety Hazard Black widow spiders and rattlesnakes are associated with colonies and burrows.
  • Horse and riders and breeding livestock may suffer injury when stepping into burrows.

 

University Publications

Links

Prairie Dog Information--a prairie dog protectionist site but contains research and photos.

Nebraska Wildlife Species-Prairie Dogs--Nebraska Game & Parks Commission

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