Utah Ecological Services
Mountain-Prairie Region
Utah Prairie Dog Surveyor Training

Background Photograph of a Utah prairie dog eating by Romin and Dalton

The Utah prairie dog was listed as an endangered species on June 4, 1973 (38 FR 14678), pursuant to the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969.  At the time of listing, the species was threatened with extinction due to habitat destruction; modification or severe curtailment of habitat; over exploitation; disease; and predation.  The species was reclassified as threatened on May 29, 1984 (49 FR 22330), with a special rule to allow take of prairie dogs on agricultural lands.

Our Environmental Conservation Online System contains information on Utah Prairie Dog and can be accessed here. Our Mountain Prairie Region also maintains a web site dedicated to the Utah prairie dog, which can be accessed here.

The Status of the Species was last updated August 2010, and can be viewed by clicking here.

Training Workshop Information

In coordination with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Team, we conduct an annual Utah Prairie Dog Survey Training Course in Cedar City, Utah.  This training emphasizes identification of Utah prairie dogs and their habitat and use of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 2010 Utah prairie dog survey protocol.  Any individual conducting Utah prairie dog surveys must attend our Utah Prairie Dog Survey Training and obtain a certification card.  If an organization/agency employs multiple surveyors to conduct Utah prairie dog surveys, each of those surveyors must attend the training and become certified.  Surveys conducted by individuals who have not successfully completed the training will be invalid.

Two primary objectives of the Utah Prairie Dog Survey Training Course are to:

  1. Ensure consistency and quality of surveys following the Service’s approved protocol, for purposes of Endangered Species Act consultation and compliance, and
  2. Increase the number of qualified surveyors in order to improve our knowledge of the distribution of this federally threatened species. 

The purpose of Utah prairie dog occupancy/habitat surveys is to determine if Utah prairie dogs inhabit a proposed project area, in order to determine if the proposed action may affect Utah prairie dogs.  It is important that standardized protocols are followed.

The training course includes a classroom session and a field session. The field trip portion of the training involves a combination of walking and driving.

Materials for the Utah Prairie Dog Survey Training (2012)

Every year, we offer training for people who will be doing surveys for Utah prairie dog within the range of the species in southwestern Utah. This helps ensure surveys are done consistently throughout the range according to our 2010 Survey Protocol Guidelines.

Below is the information we presented or referred to at our training last May 2012, in Cedar City, Utah.

Our survey protocol was updated in 2010. We will follow this protocol for surveys conducted for Utah prairie dog. If you are doing surveys for Utah prairie dog, please use the following protocol and use the following field forms (2010 Utah Prairie Dog Occupancy / Habitat Survey Form).

Additional information is available for download below and will be discussed, however this material is not the main focus of the training.

Materials for the upcoming 2013 Utah Prairie Dog Survey Training

Below is the latest survey intensity maps. As more information for the training becomes available, we will update this webpage.

Important Literature

Below is a set of reports that we refer to during our Utah Prairie Dog Survey Training Workshop.

  • Cheng, E., and M.E. Ritchie.  2006.  Impacts of simulated livestock grazing on Utah prairie dogs (Cynomys parvidens) in a low productivity ecosystem.  Oecologia 147:546-555.
  • Collier, G.D., and J.J. Spillett.  1975.  Factors influencing the distribution of the Utah prairie dog, (Cynomys parvidens).  The Southwestern Naturalist, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 151-158.
  • Egoscue, H.J. 1975. Abnormal Juvenile Pelages and Estivation in the Utah Prairie Dog, Cynomys parvidens. The Southwestern Naturalist 20:139-142.
  • Elmore, R.D. 2006. Recovery of the Utah prairie dog: public perception and cattle grazing as a management tool. Utah State University Dissertation. pp. 132 + appendices.
  • Elmore, R. D. and T. A. Messmer, 2006. Livestock grazing and the Utah prairie dog: implications for managing the Awapa.  Berryman Institute Publication No. 24.  Utah State University, Logan, 15 pp.
  • Hoogland, J.L.  2001.  Black-tailed, Gunnison’s, and Utah prairie dogs all reproduce slowly.  Journal of Mammalogy 82:917-927.
  • Hoogland, J.L., K.E. Cannon, L.M. DeBarbieri, and T.G. Manno. 2006. Selective predation on Utah prairie dogs. The American Naturalist 168:546-552.
  • Manno, T.G. 2007. Why are the Utah prairie dogs vigilant? Journal of Mammalogy 88:555-563.
  • Pizzimenti, J.J., and G.D. Collier.  1975.  Cynomys parvidens.  Mammal Species 52:1-3.

Contact Information

For more information on the Utah prairie dog, contact Kate Novak at (801) 975-3330 extension 132 or Nathan Brown at (435) 865-3763.

Last updated: June 18, 2013