- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Conservation groups filed suit Wednesday seeking to prevent federal agencies from beginning a program that would poison and shoot black-tailed prairie dogs on federal land in southwestern South Dakota.

Eight conservation groups filed the lawsuit in federal court in Denver, naming the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as defendants.

Last month, Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton removed black-tailed prairie dogs from the list of candidates being considered for designation as endangered species.

The lawsuit argues that it makes no sense to kill prairie dogs in the only location where the endangered black-footed ferret has been successfully reintroduced. Prairie dogs make up 90 percent of the ferrets’ diet.

South Dakota and federal officials then announced an agreement that calls for poisoning and shooting prairie dogs in the Conata Basin area of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands to prevent them from spreading to private land. Ranchers complain that the prairie dogs ruin livestock grazing by destroying the grass.

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