Prairie Dogs Win Major Victory in Court

Prairie Dogs Win Major Victory in Court

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Prairie pups on the range are now more likely to live and see another day thanks to a recent court ruling.

The 10th Circuit of Court of Appeals overturned a Utah state judge’s ruling to eliminate the protection of prairie dogs under the Endangered Species Act.

The Utah Prairie Dog used to have a recorded population of over 100,000 one century ago, but their numbers have dwindled to mere thousands due to human conflict and hunting, which has since led to their “endangered” classification.

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In 2014, Utah voted to disregard federal regulation of the species by claiming that the Utah Prairie Dog was a pest that should be managed by the state landowners who are affected by them. The Denver-based 3-judge panel overruled the legislation and sided with environmentalists claiming that the species would be wiped out without federal protection.

The panel also argued that the Endangered Species Act should not simply apply to animals that roam across multiple states.

“Piecemeal excision of purely intrastate species would severely undercut the ESA’s conservation purposes,” Judge Holmes wrote in the panel’s ruling. The “regulation of take of endangered and threatened species is directly related to—indeed, arguably inversely correlated with—economic development and commercial activity.”

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(Photo by Dishfunctional, CC)

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