Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Black-tailed prairie dogs are diurnal rodents that are approximately 14 inches long. They are highly social animals that live in family groups called coteries. A coterie typically consists of one breeding male, one to four breeding females, and any offspring less than two years of age.
Across North America, there are a total of five types of prairie dogs: black-tailed, Gunnison’s, Mexican, Utah, and white-tailed. There are two types of prairie dogs in Arizona: Gunnison’s range across northern Arizona, and black-tailed are located in southeastern Arizona. Of all the prairie dog species, the black-tailed prairie dog has the greatest range across western North America, stretching from south-central Canada to the northern part of Mexico. The black-tailed prairie dog population has faced a decline across its range. Prior to reintroduction efforts, the last black-tailed prairie dog was seen in Arizona in 1960, and their range across North America has been reduced to less than two percent of what it used to be 150 years ago.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department first began investigating reintroduction of black-tailed prairie dogs in the 1970s. After the first petition was filed to list the species, there was an effort among 11 of the western states to begin conservation of the species and the Prairie Dog Conservation Team (PDCT) was formed. The PDCT developed a multi-state plan which provided guidelines under which individual states could develop their own state management plan to prevent the need to list the species. The Arizona Black-tailed Prairie Dog Working Group was then assembled and a management plan for Arizona was drafted. This plan was not finalized but the Department adheres to its guidelines.
To conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations.
Threatened and Endangered
Relatively few native species of wildlife have been extirpated from Arizona since pre-settlement days and even fewer have become extinct. In fact, most native species in Arizona are still abundant and offer tremendous recreational and educational opportunities, whether through harvest or observation. Some species are no longer abundant and many are increasingly threatened by habitat degradation, disease, introduced species and climate change.