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From opposition to opportunity: managing prairie dogs in southern Utah




Frey, Nicki, speaker
Wightman, Erica, speaker
Breck, Stewart, moderator
International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer

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Utah Prairie Dogs (Cymomys parvidens) have been listed, first as an endangered, then as a threatened species, under the Endangered Species Act since its inception in 1973. The species exists only in southern Utah, where approximately 75% of the land is managed by the Federal Government; however, it is estimated that 75% of the species' population occurs on private lands. Unfortunately, humans have had direct conflict with Utah prairie dogs since they first began agricultural practices in the area. We must find ways to create a benefit from Utah prairie dogs on private lands, in order to alleviate conflicts, to encourage species conservation, and to recover the species. One program, the Utah Prairie Dog Habitat Credit Exchange (HCE) has done just that. Created by a collaboration of experts working in wildlife biology, sociology, finance, and policy the HCE works with landowners to create conservation easement on parcels of their property where prairie dogs can do little harm. In return, landowners can manage prairie dogs elsewhere on their property AND receive monetary credit for their efforts. These credits are then sold to developers that need ‘take' for their property in order to develop their land. With this system, landowners have a bit of control over Utah prairie dogs on their land, get monetary compensation for protecting Utah prairie dogs on their land, the local towns have an avenue to continue to develop their land, and 'the ultimate goal' more Utah prairie dogs are protected across the landscape.


Moderator: Stewart Breck.
Presented at the 8th international congress for wildlife and livelihoods on private and communal lands: livestock, tourism, and spirit, that was held on September 7-12, 2014 in Estes Park, Colorado.
Video presenter: Shandra Nicole Frey.

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Wildlife management -- Congresses
Range management -- Congresses


Associated Publications