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The Utah Legislature approved a resolution last year calling on the federal government to hand over management of the prairie dog to the county government.

Without such action, the Utah prairie dog could soon outnumber the 50,000 residents of Iron County. Last week’s news conference at a Cedar City park to announce the lawsuit was attended by about 100 locals, and a few uninvited guests.

“At our press conference, you had about 10 prairie dogs right there,” Mr. Morton said. “They were just sitting there and watching us.”