Prairie Dogs Live to Dig Another Day


Every dog has its day, and prairie dogs are no exception. A federal court just ruled in favor of protecting the threatened Utah prairie dog. (Christian Science Monitor)

What are prairie dogs? Use our short resource to get acquainted.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

Utah Prairie Dog
Utah prairie dogs, like this one in Bryce Canyon National Park, have gained some protection thanks to the federal government.
Photograph by Raymond Gehman, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas




  • What happens next?
    • The plaintiffs, who wanted the state to maintain management of Utah prairie dog populations, will appeal. The group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, is not anti-prairie dog and acknowledges the species’ significance. “Let [Utah prairie dog habitat] be on the prairie, let it be on land away from the developments,” said Brett Taylor, the group’s vice president.
    • Conservationists acknowledge a legal victory not only for the prairie dog, but other intrastate species on nonfederal land. Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told the AP that the decision could help protect as many as 1,600 endangered species around the country.


  • Let your class be the next court of appeals. Should the federal government be the authority for regulating the populations of intrastate species on nonfederal land? Think about:
    • states’ rights
    • conservation of endangered species
    • landowners’ rights
    • influence of one species on an ecosystem
    • influence of one species on the built environment



Christian Science Monitor: Prairie dogs win major victory in court

National Park Service: Utah Prairie Dog

Nat Geo: What are prairie dogs?

Nat Geo: What is a burrow?

(extra credit!) Tenth Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals: People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. USFWS

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