Press Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comment on Environmental Assessment for Gunnison’s Prairie Dog

DENVER – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today options to manage sylvatic plague in Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni) colonies on the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC) in south-central Colorado.

The Service completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) for this action and is seeking public comment on the proposal. The EA analyzes management options, including a No-Action Alternative, to permit Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) via a Special Use Permit (SUP) 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 EA permits CPW to apply a powdered insecticide called Deltamethrin (Delta Dust®), 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 (SPV) 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 raptors and mammalian carnivores, and their colonies serve as habitat for the mountain plover, burrowing owl, badger, weasel, snakes, and other wildlife species.

Today’s announcement opens a 30-day comment period for the EA, which ends on August 30, 2017. Copies of the EA are available by contacting the San Luis Valley NWRC to receive a copy by mail. All comments received during this period will be reviewed by refuge staff.

Comments may be emailed to: or sent by mail to

Attn: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Luis Valley NWR Complex, 9383 El Rancho Ln., Alamosa, CO 81101.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

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Endangered and/or Threatened species