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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

September 3, 1998

Pete Gober (605)224-8693, x24
Lou Hanebury (406)247-7366
Nell McPhillips (605)224-8693, x32
Diane Katzenberger(303)236-7917, x408


Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it declined the National Wildlife Federation’s July 31, 1998 request for the Service to emergency list the black-tailed prairie dog as a threatened species. At this time the Service does not believe that there is an immediacy of a threat so great that emergency listing is needed. The purpose of the emergency rule provision of the Endangered Species Act is to prevent a species from becoming extinct by affording them immediate protection while the Service is following the normal rulemaking procedures.

For approximately the next two months the Service will continue to review data provided to the Service by the National Wildlife Federation. This 90-day preliminary review process allows Service biologists to determine if the National Wildlife Federation presents substantial information in their petition for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to explore possibly adding the black-tailed prairie dog to the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species. By early November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will announce its decision on this.

In addition to reviewing information provided to the Service by the National Wildlife Federation in its petition, data submitted from the states or tribes where black-tailed prairie dogs live is continuing to be reviewed as it is received.

The Service is aware that there will be continued prairie dog losses. If at any time, the loss of black-tailed prairie dogs should increase drastically, the Service would revisit the issue and possibly require immediate protection through emergency listing.

The black-tailed prairie dog is a full-bodied, football-sized squirrel-like mammal with a short, black-tipped tail, large eyes, and a tan-brown pelt. It was named for the barking noise it makes. They are native to the prairies of western North America.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

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