The Buffalo Gap National Grassland in South Dakota began creating tall grass buffers with our electric fencing in 2007. As a result, prairie dog poisoning has been reduced by more than 90 percent!
In summer 2010, we worked with Thunder Basin National Grassland in Wyoming on the first ever relocation of prairie dogs on any national grassland, moving 550 prairie dogs. In 2011 we helped relocate an additional 349 prairie dogs. Not only does relocation save prairie dogs from poisoning but it also creates new prairie dog colonies where they can thrive and provide habitat for many other animals.
In Kansas, a group of private landowners has been fighting to save the prairie dogs on their 10,000-acre ranch since 2007. To reduce tensions with some neighbors, they established a 90-foot wide tall-grass buffer around their property, which reduces prairie dogs from occupying it or moving through it to neighboring properties. Defenders is helped these wildlife-friendly ranchers pay for the grazing rights to the 90-foot buffer to leave it ungrazed. But this was not enough for the Logan County commissioners who want all prairie dogs dead. They sent exterminators to poison prairie dogs several times, and sued the landowners to force compliance. In March 2008, the landowners won a partial victory, when a Kansas judge ruled that county officials may not trespass more than 90 feet onto the ranch property to poison prairie dogs—the width of the buffer areas. The reason: landowners worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce endangered black-footed ferrets to this property, and black-footed ferrets require prairie dog colonies to survive. The presence of this endangered species that preys on prairie dogs ultimately saved the prairie dog colonies from complete eradication. Finally, in 2013 after numerous additional court challenges from the county officials, the landowners won for good when the Kansas Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Prairie dogs are finally safe on this ranch, thanks to the presence of black-footed ferrets!