Nebraska and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continue to receive failing grades from an environmental group based on the agencies actions involving prairie dogs.
Kansas received a C-minus, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did only marginally better, receiving a C.
The letter grades given to states where prairie dogs can be found and the federal agencies that deal with the animals come from Wild Earth Guardians, a Colorado-based environmental group. The “Report from the Burrow,” as the annual report is called, has been issued since 2008.
Kansas’ C-minus is based only on how it deals with black-tailed prairie dogs, the only species of its kind found in the state.
Kansas, according to the report, historically had somewhere between 2 million and 7.5 million acres of prairie dogs. That number dropped to approximately 57,000 acres by 1958, mainly the result of land development and poisoning.
Kansas received a B for its monitoring, last undertaken in 2008, when 148,000 acres were found using a series of aerial maps prepared for federal agricultural programs.
Conservation efforts also received a B, based on its 2002 conservation plan. The grade was based on Kansas remaining close to the level proposed in the plan.
Kansas was given a C for both habitat and efforts to control sylvatic plague in prairie dogs. Habitat is hampered by little state land, but WildEarth Guardians criticized the state’s failure to do much of anything. The plague issue is similar.
Kansas gets a D for its policies because the prairie dog is listed as a species of “greatest conservation need,” even though there’s no regulatory protection.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism considers prairie dogs nongame wildlife, which allows open hunting.
Kansas fell flat — and received an F — for its policies dealing with poisoning. The group was critical of a 1901 law that lets counties poison prairie dogs on private land without the owner’s permission even though it is at their expense.
Kansas also received an F for its shooting rules. Non-residents need a state hunting license while residents don’t need one and can shoot prairie dogs anytime they like.