Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP) The U.S. Forest Service says an outbreak of the plague is killing black-tailed prairie dogs in the Comanche National Grassland in southeastern Colorado.
The agency said Monday that prairie dog colonies at the grassland decreased from 16,000 acres in 2005 to just 3,607 this year.
Conservation groups say the Comanche population was one of the largest in the state, and the die-offs indicate the species needs federal protection.
State and federal officials say localized die-offs from plague are common in prairie dogs.
Pete Gober, a U.S. Fish and wildlife service field supervisor overseeing a review of the animals, says prairie dog populations “wax and wane over a decade's time frame rather than year to year or moment to moment.”
He says just because the animals are declining locally doesn't mean they won't recover.
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