Livestock Grazing and the Utah Prairie Dog: Implications for Managing the AWAPA

R. Dwayne Elmore
Terry A. Messmer
Jack H. Berryman Institute for Wildlife Damage Management


The Utah prairie dog was listed as an endangered species in 1973 pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1969. The species was down-listed to threatened in 1984 after substantial numbers were found on private lands in parts of Utah. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) completed a species recovery plan in 1991. The focus of the plan was to recover populations on federal lands in three areas (USFWS 1991). The areas identified included the West Desert of Utah, the Paunsaugunt Plateau, and the Awapa Plateau (which includes Parker Mountain). Grazing by domestic livestock continues to be the dominant land use activity across most of the range of the Utah prairie dog. Previous studies suggest that grazing may not only be compatible with the Utah prairie dog, but can be used as a management tool. Prior to implementing this management strategy, more information is needed to understand the potential impacts that high intensity/short duration grazing might have on the plant community and consequently on Utah prairie dog populations.