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Colorado workshop to address prairie dog conservation

From the Colorado Division of Wildlife

-- Conservation of prairie dogs in the San Luis Valley will be the subject of a one-day workshop in Alamosa on Aug 18. The workshop, organized by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, is an early step in planning for conservation of the Gunnison's and white-tailed prairie dogs in western and southern Colorado.

The Alamosa workshop will focus on the Gunnison's prairie dog. The white-tailed prairie dog does not inhabit the San Luis Valley.

The purpose of this planning effort is to ensure conservation of the prairie dogs and to avoid a listing of the species under the federal Endangered Species Act. Prairie dogs play a key role in the environment. They provide an important food source for predators such as hawks, badgers, coyotes and foxes, and their burrows provide cover for a variety of other species.

The DOW has been working on a prairie dog management plan for more than a year. Last year it released for comment the draft strategy document. More than 1,000 comments were submitted by the public.

The day-long Alamosa workshop is open to members of the public who are interested in participating in a group discussion to develop local conservation solutions and strategies.  At the workshop, stakeholders will consider options for preserving prairie dogs and identify specific management actions that will be most effective at the local level.  Participants will discuss issues unique to the area, rank proposed conservation strategies and develop an outline for a local action plan.

Stakeholders include private landowners, conservationists, concerned citizens, and representatives of local, federal and state agencies. About 50 people representing specific interests have been invited to attend. 

"This workshop is not a forum at which people will simply give their opinions about prairie dogs," said Gary Skiba, senior wildlife conservation biologist for the DOW. "The workshop is designed to develop specific plans for the San Luis Valley. By working with local stakeholders we can identify conservation solutions unique to each area and develop cooperative on-the-ground management and action plans."

The Alamosa workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Aug. 18 . The Department of Wildlife requests that those interested in attending contact Kirk Navo by email at
knavo@state.co.us, or by calling (719)587-6906.

The draft conservation strategy can be viewed at the DOW website:
http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/GunnisonsWhitetailPrairieDogConsStrategy.htm.

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