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Montana Sierra Club saves the prairie dog

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Liberty Belle

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
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northwestern South Dakota
I found this yesterday and there was no date on it, but any of you folks in Montana with a prairie dog problem have reason to be concerned. This Jonathan Proctor is the same nut who tried to stop any prairie dog management in South Dakota on the Conata Basin that has been almost totally decimated by the rodents.


•The Yellowstone Basin Group of the Montana Sierra Club presents "Conservation of Prairies in Eastern Montana," a slide show by Jonathan Proctor, Northern Plains program director for the Bozeman-based Predator Conservation Alliance. The focus of his work is restoring four Great Plains predators: black-footed ferrets, swift fox, ferruginous hawks and burrowing owls. All of these predators depend on or benefit from large complexes of prairie dog colonies, but few such complexes remain. Predator Conservation Alliance is releasing a new report that identifies the best 10 public land areas across the Northern Plains in which to restore the prairie dog ecosystem. Four of the areas are in Eastern Montana. 7 p.m., Lewis and Clark Room of the Student Union Building at MSU-Billings. Free.
This article is from the Billings Gazette and that meeting is tonight:

Montana has 4 top sites for wildlife restoration, study says
Of The Gazette Staff
Four of the 10 best places in the Northern Great Plains to restore grassland wildlife species are in Montana, according to a study released today by a wildlife conservation group.
The study, titled "Homes on the Range'' and done by the Predator Conservation Alliance, identifies where and how land and wildlife managers can restore prairie dog ecosystems to stem the decline of species, including the endangered black-footed ferret, swift fox, ferruginous hawks and burrowing owls.
Jonathan Proctor, of the conservation group, will discuss the study at 7 p.m. Friday in Billings at a meeting of the Sierra Club. The free talk will be held at the Lewis and Clark Room at MSU-Billings' Student Union Building.
Proctor said the group identified and ranked the 10 best places by identifying where there were large, contiguous areas of prairie dog habitat on public lands and then looking at places that have prairie dogs, the management of prairie dogs and species that depend on them, such as black-footed ferrets, and whether disease was present.
"We want to promote these areas as great opportunities,'' Proctor said.
The Montana sites named by the group are: Glaciated Plains, which is 708,500 acres south of Malta that includes portions of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Bureau of Land Management lands and scattered state lands; Bitter Creek, which is 642,700 acres north of Glasgow, and includes BLM and state lands; Larb Hills, which is 781,100 acres southeast of Fort Peck, and includes portions of CMR, BLM and state lands; and Custer Creek, which is 563,000 acres north of Terry, and includes BLM and scattered state lands.
The study's six other places include two in Wyoming, one in North Dakota, two in South Dakota and one in Nebraska. The Wyoming sites are Thunder Basin, which is 410,200 acres north of Douglas, and Hole in the Wall, which is 748,900 acres north of Casper.
While the places represent the best sites on public lands to begin restoring grassland species, the sites also contain private lands, the study says.
The Predator Conservation Alliance hopes to work with the public land agencies and the landowners within the sites. "For all 10 identified restoration sites, consolidation of public land, voluntary landowner incentive programs, and research into preventing the spread of wildlife disease will benefit restoration efforts,'' the report says.
The key to restoring wildlife species on the Northern Great Plains focuses on black-tailed prairie dogs, the study says. Numerous species depend on prairie dogs and their habitat. Healthy prairie dog populations can lead to healthy populations of black-footed ferrets, swift fox, burrowing owls and ferruginous hawks. In some of the sites, prairie dog reintroductions may be necessary, the report says.
Proctor said research has shown that successful black-footed ferret recovery requires at least 10,000 acres of prairie dogs where no colony is more than a mile from the next. Montana has two ferret reintroduction efforts under way in south Phillips County. One is on about 3,000 acres at the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge (on CMR), and the other is on about 2,000 acres of BLM lands.
"Neither is large enough,'' Proctor said. In addition, Montana has problems with disease. Plague may be affecting prairie dogs, he said.
"Regardless of disease, we just need more prairie dogs in closer proximity for it (ferret reintroduction) to succeed at all,'' Proctor said.
The long-term vision, Proctor said, is to have healthy wildlife populations and "have people who live here benefit from it.''
Wildlife restoration on public lands can help reverse declining regional economies by diversifying economics, adding new jobs and creating natural areas that improve quality of life, the report says.

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