On November 14, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) determined (pdf) that Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisonidoes) does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  According to the Service, the species’ populations are stable and there are no threats causing or projected to cause the species to be at risk of extinction.  The Service also removed Gunnison’s prairie dog from the candidate list of threatened or endangered species. 

Gunnison’s prairie dog includes two subspecies that occupy areas of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.  One subspecies is found in montane portions of its range, while the other occupies prairie areas.  The Service determined in 2008 that the montane population warranted listing under the ESA due to the effects of the sylvatic plague.  However, the Service found that the listing was precluded by higher-priority listing proposals, and thus the species was placed on the candidate list.

The Service’s recent determination – that neither subspecies warrants listing under the ESA – is based on new information regarding the prairie dog’s taxonomy (including a genetic study about the distinction between the two subspecies), the dynamics of sylvatic plague, and conservation efforts for the species.