By MIKE CORN
Kansas didn't fare so well this year when WildEarth Guardians handed out its annual report card on how state and federal agencies are dealing with prairie dogs.
The "Report from the Burrow" was issued Tuesday -- "Groundhog Day, Prairie Dog Day in the west."
In its latest report, Kansas received a failing grade, a "D." Last year, Kansas received a D-plus.
Only the monitoring efforts by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks received anything above average, in this case a "B."
But Kansas and the state's wildlife agency received failing grades for habitat, policies, shooting and poisoning efforts. Conservation and plague warranted a grade of "C" for the state.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received a comparable grade, also a drop from last year's grades.
The Environmental Protection Agency received an "F" and was blasted for its decision to permit the use of two blood-thinning poisons on prairie dogs, a move that prompted a lawsuit by Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon of Kansas.
Although Kansas once had anywhere from 2 million to 7.5 million acres of prairie dogs, KDWP in 2008 only found 148,000 acres of the animals.
Guardians took aim at KDWP's efforts on poisoning.
"Kansas gets an F in 'poison' and 'policies for trying to mandate the poisoning of one of the only prairie dog colonies in the state large enough to support black-footed ferrets," the report states. "However, the KDWP supported the September relocation of 189 imperiled prairie dogs into a private conservation area in southern Kansas. We hope this may lead to raising their 'conserve' grade in the future."
Under its conservation plan, KDWP's goal is to maintain 130,000 occupied acres of prairie dogs, increasing that to 150,000 acres by 2012 -- if incentive programs are developed.