For all of the ground squirrel hunters, here’s some info on Montana’s prairie dog shooting:
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (Department) is mandated under MCA 87-1-201.9(a) to implement programs that:
- (i) manage wildlife, fish, game, and nongame animals in a manner that prevents the need for listing as provided in 87-5-107 or under the federal Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531, et seq.;
- (ii) manage listed species, sensitive species, or a species that are a potential candidate for listing as provided in 87-5-107 or under the federal Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531, et seq., in a manner that assists in the maintenance or recovery of those species;
In keeping with 87-1-201.9(ai) the Department collects population and habitat information on nongame species to include prairie dogs. Fluctuations in prairie dog numbers and locations of occupied prairie dog colonies can be dramatic and can occur quickly with plague outbreaks and land conversion, thus, the Department can only supply general information based on historical and current data. Figure 1 (image below) is a map showing all available data from formal surveys, incidental observations and observations submitted by the public and represents prairie dog occupancy at some point in time.
The Department must balance the rights of public disclosure with the interest of keeping specific information private for the safety of prairie dog populations and the ecosystems which they inhabit. In keeping with the principle of fair chase, information on prairie dogs is provided at a range distribution level rather than specific locations. This is consistent with agency policy relative to the kinds of information we provide to big game hunters. More specific prairie dog colony location information cannot be provided without clear scientific or conservation purpose.
Learn more about Recreational Shooting of Nongame Species.