A black tailed prairie dog about to be released during the translocation project at Pueblo Chemical Depot.

Prairie Dog Restoration

U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot contains some of the oldest undisturbed shortgrass prairie habitat in the Colorado, which is home to a variety of wildlife including burrowing owls, swift foxes, ferruginous hawks, golden eagles, coyotes, and badgers. Many of these species rely on black-tailed prairie dog populations for food and habitat. A major plague event in 2015 and 2016 wiped out most of the prairie dog populations on the base. Natural resources manager Rickey Jones implemented a large-scale prairie dog translocation project to restore these historic populations on the base starting in 2019 and continuing into 2023. He coordinated with numerous stakeholders including U.S. Army, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, Colorado Department of Transportation, and the Prairie Dog Coalition.

The translocation project involved trapping prairie dogs from property owned by Pueblo Chemical Depot, Colorado Department of Transportation, and private landowners and relocating these prairie dogs to a restoration site on the base. Re-establishing this population will help increase biodiversity on Pueblo Chemical Depot and the long-term goal is to have enough occupied prairie dog colonies to reintroduce Black-Footed Ferrets. Several graduate level research projects through the Colorado State University-Pueblo are examining prairie dog behavior and effects of these translocations.

Learn more about the prairie dog translocation project here!

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The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program leads aquatic conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are committed to tackling the nation’s highest priority aquatic conservation and recreational challenges to conserve, restore, and enhance fisheries for future generations.

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