No prairie dog shooting after April 1

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Starting April 1, 2011 you can’t hunt prairie dogs on public land in Utah.You can start hunting them again, however, starting June 16, 2011.

There are two exceptions to this rule—Utah prairie dogs in southwestern Utah, and the white-tailed prairie dog population in Coyote Basin in northeastern Utah, may not be hunted, no matter what time of year it is.

Protecting prairie dogs

Just like game animals, Utah has a hunting season for Gunnison and white-tailed prairie dogs:

  • From April 1 to June 15, all prairie dog hunting is prohibited on public land across the state. The closure does not apply to private property, however.
  • On private property, a landowner and those to whom the landowner has give permission can hunt prairie dogs year-round.

Tony Wright, a sensitive species biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the shooting closure is designed to help Gunnison and white-tailed prairie dogs, which are considered sensitive species in Utah.

“Protecting prairie dogs during their spring breeding season helps ensure the prairie dogs are able to give birth to and raise their young,” Wright says.

Wright says many wildlife species depend on prairie dogs for food. “Black-footed ferrets, birds of prey and ground predators feed on prairie dogs,” he says.

Some areas closed year round

In some areas of Utah, prairie dogs may not be hunted, no matter what time of year it is:

  • Utah prairie dogs in southwestern Utah are protected by the Endangered Species Act. You may not hunt them.
  • The white-tailed prairie dog population in Coyote Basin in northeastern Utah is the primary prey species of black-footed ferrets, a federally protected species in the area.

White-tailed prairie dogs in Coyote Basin may not be hunted.

Finding Gunnison and white-tailed prairie dogs

After June 15, hunting is allowed only for white-tailed and Gunnison prairie dogs.

In Utah, you’ll find Gunnison prairie dogs east of the Colorado River. White-tailed prairie dogs are found elsewhere in eastern Utah.

A license isn’t required to hunt prairie dogs in Utah. And there isn’t a bag limit.

For more information, call the DWR’s Southeastern Region office at 435-613-3700 or the agency’s Northeastern Region office at 435-781-9453.