Aerial Survey and Ground-based Mapping Effort of Black-tailed Prairie Dog Colonies in Southwestern ND (SWG T-11-R)

Authors and Contributors

Craig Knowles, FaunaWest Wildlife Consultants

Research Category

Target Species

Black-tailed Prairie dog

Approximate Completion Date




SWG prairie dog



In 2001 and 2002, southwestern North Dakota was surveyed for black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) (Knowles 2003). This survey reported that prairie dogs were found in a minimum of 540 colonies and occupied about 20,074 acres. Prairie dogs were found in 12 North Dakota counties. Distribution was largely restricted to either side of the Little Missouri River and its tributary drainages, and the Standing Rock Reservation and adjacent areas, with some scattered isolated colonies in upland prairie between these 2 large prairie dog complexes.

At the time of this survey, the black-tailed prairie dog was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a candidate Threatened Species with a "warranted but precluded" status. The 2003 North Dakota prairie dog status report (Knowles 2003) concluded that the black-tailed prairie dog was not threatened with extinction in North Dakota and that viable prairie dog populations existed within the 2 major complexes. Since this status report, the FWS has removed the black-tailed prairie dog from the candidate Threatened Species list. In 2005, North Dakota Game and Fish initiated another prairie dog survey as a follow-up to the 2001-2002 survey. This report summarizes the results of this latter survey.