WASHINGTON (CN) - Despite having their colonies disrupted by croplands and suburbs, the black tailed prairie dog, a rodent in the squirrel family, is not sufficiently threatened by expansion of human activity to warrant protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Environmentalists believe that black-tailed prairie dogs might have been the most abundant mammal in North American with possibly a billion or more living in colonies across the prairies and subdivided into towns, wards and coteries of a single male, his mates and their offspring.
Although the agency recognized that the urbanization of prairie has altered the population distribution of the prairie dog, it determined that less than 1 percent of its potential habitat has been lost to urbanization in the United States. Since, according to the agency, only 2.4 million acres of 286 million acres of the dog's historic range have been converted to urban or farm use, and the species currently only occupies 2.4 million acres, the agency believes there is substantial habitat available for expansion of prairie dog colonies.