The UPD Issues Status Report - this report identifies conflicts with existing land uses and future development that occur as a result of the Utah prairie dog's threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. The report describes the main concerns each stakeholder has with UPD, and tracks how each concern is being addressed. The information in this report is intended to provide a fair representation of all the stakeholders views, so that we have an accurate account of each conflict.
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs)
Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act, provide for partnerships with non-Federal parties to conserve the ecosystems upon which listed species depend, ultimately contributing to their recovery. HCPs are planning documents required as part of an application for an incidental take permit. They describe the anticipated effects of the proposed taking; how those impacts will be minimized, or mitigated; and how the HCP is to be funded.
Habitat restoration and maintenance
Partner agencies, including the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), the U.S. Forest Service & Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, work together to carry out vegetation treatments and other restorative activities on federal and state lands to maintain healthy UPD habitat. Each year, these agencies coordinate their efforts through UPDOG; implementation of projects occurs in the spring and summer months.
One of the biggest threats to recovery of the Utah prairie dog is sylvatic plague, which is carried by fleas that infest prairie dog colonies and cause massive outbreaks. UPD populations often crash because of plague. In order to fight this threat, Partner agencies, including the UDWR, the U.S. Forest Service & Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, work together to carry out plague abatement treatments, including dusting the prairie dogs with a flea repellant. Each year, these agencies coordinate their plague abatement efforts through UPDOG; implementation occurs in the spring and summer months.
As the majority of UPDs exist on private property (approximately 80%), there have been major efforts to translocate dogs from private to public ground. The UDWR carries out translocation efforts in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, the BLM, local governments such as Iron & Garfield Counties and Cedar City, as well as private landowners. Translocation projects planned for spring and summer are listed on the Annual Work Plan. The UDWR follows translocation protocols established by the UPDOG RIT (Recovery Implementation Team).
Research, Monitoring and Management
A large part of the recovery effort involves research and monitoring. Research is aimed at improving the effectiveness of recovery activities as well as helping to better understand measures for determining recovery of the species. Monitoring the species is important to track the progress of recovery and the status of UPD populations across their range.
Currently, several studies are underway: UDWR has completed the 3rd year of a study to determine the efficacy of using a systemic flea control chemical to reduce flea infestations in UPD, which cause plague outbreaks. Results and samples have been sent to the primary researcher, who is in Missouri. The primary researcher will conduct the final analysis. UDWR also assisted with a short‐term bait uptake study that is the precursor to a field study for a plague vaccine delivery program. Initial results were encouraging and field tests on the actual vaccine are ongoing.
Safe Harbor Program
UPD Habitat Credits Exchange Program (UPDHCEP)
The HCEP is a partner program targeted towards private landowners who have Utah prairie dogs occupying their land. Administered by the Panoramaland & Color Country Resource Conservation & Development Councils (RC&Ds), this program generates habitat credits by purchasing conservation easements for UPDs. Easements are negotiated with willing landowners – the HCEP pays a landowner to maintain their property in its current state, which supports UPDs; in turn the program can sell habitat credits to other landowners in need of "take" (incidental impact to the species as a result of an otherwise legal action, like a building project). The program is market driven and can effectively "clear" a property of UPD encumbrances in perpetuity, while conserving the species elsewhere.
An agreement between a private landowner (often ranchers) and the USFWS, in which the landowner manages UPD habitat on a portion of their property to provide a conservation benefit to UPDs in exchange for assurance that they will not incur regulatory penalties or restrictions from the ESA during the life of the permit (administered by the Panoramaland and Color Country RC&Ds)