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Iowa's governor has restored the right to vote for people with past felony convictions via executive order; and Tennessee has a primary election today.

Groups Want to Get Species Out of the "Little Doghouse on the Prairie"

August 13, 2007

Many of Colorado's black-tailed prairie dogs are losing a battle for survival to Front Range development. Some of the biggest and most important prairie dog towns have to compete with increasing development in places like Fort Collins, Longmont and Littleton. Lauren McCain with Forest Guardians says protecting Colorado's black-tailed prairie dog under the Endangered Species Act is critical for all kinds of wildlife.

"There are over 170 species that benefit from black-tailed prairie dogs. One of them is the black-footed ferret, and they're endangered. Other species that are declining because of prairie dog loss include the burrowing owl, ferruginous hawk and swift fox."

McCain believes the federal government needs to step in to stop the use of prairie dog "control" techniques like shooting, poisoning and the "Rodenator," a system recently approved in Colorado that blows up prairie dogs in their burrows.

"And of course it will kill a variety of other wildlife species when it's used on prairie dogs because so many others inhabit their burrows."

McCain adds that dozens of other species depend on prairie dogs. She says they're food for many predators, and their burrows are home to other animals like the burrowing owl.

A coalition of conservation groups has petitioned the Interior Department to protect black-tailed prairie dogs. The request follows a lawsuit filed against the government in February that challenges a
2004 decision not to protect the species.

McCain notes that the black-tailed prairie dog has decreased by 98 percent and should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

"We just have a perception that they're a problem because we haven't really figured out a way to work and to live with them."

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO