Associate Editor: Amy Kuenzi.
Management and Conservation
Translocation of Gunnison's prairie dogs from an urban and suburban colony to abandoned wildland colonies†
Article first published online: 18 NOV 2011
Copyright © The Wildlife Society, 2011
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Volume 76, Issue 1, pages 95–101, January 2012
How to Cite
Nelson, E. J. and Theimer, T. C. (2012), Translocation of Gunnison's prairie dogs from an urban and suburban colony to abandoned wildland colonies. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 76: 95–101. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.281
- Issue published online: 20 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 18 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 15 MAY 2011
- Manuscript Received: 20 JUL 2010
- Cynomys gunnisoni;
- Gunnison's prairie dog;
Translocating prairie dogs from areas in or near human developments to wildlands can reduce conflicts with humans or supplement wild populations, but translocation methods differ in cost and fate of translocated individuals is often difficult to assess. We translocated 74 Gunnison's prairie dogs from 1 source colony in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona (urban) and 75 from 1 source colony in lower density housing outside the city (suburban) to 2 abandoned, recipient colonies on open grasslands 50 km north of the city (wildland). We released animals into uncaged, pre-existing burrow entrances (hard release) or into temporary cages over pre-existing burrow entrances (soft release). We captured 15 (10%) marked animals 1 year post-translocation at the 2 recipient colonies, 7 from soft release treatments and 8 from hard release treatments but visual surveys indicated a minimum of 57 adult prairie dogs and 76 pups present. Adult prairie dogs in all photographs taken by automated cameras placed at burrow entrances at each recipient colony had ear tags, suggesting that most animals at these colonies were survivors from translocation and that survival was likely higher than 10%. By 1 year post-release, recipient colonies occupied an area roughly 9–18 times that of source colonies. Urban Gunnison's prairie dogs can be successfully translocated to abandoned wildland colonies without using soft release methods, but animals may disperse widely. Given the cost and effort translocation requires, and the fact that all 6 confirmed mortalities were from human shooting, we recommend temporary restrictions on shooting at recipient colonies until populations have met management goals. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.