BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - U.S. wildlife officials say the white-tailed prairie dog does not need special protections under the Endangered Species Act because it's in no danger of extinction across the U.S. West.
Tuesday's announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service culminates a lengthy review of the squirrel-sized rodent's legal status. Its range includes portions of Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and Utah.
Biologists say poisoning campaigns, plague and habitat loss have significantly reduced the white-tailed prairie dog's abundance versus historical levels.
But despite the threats officials say the animal has proven resilient and adaptable, and therefore is in no danger of extinction within the foreseeable future.
White-tailed prairie dogs get their name from a barking sound they use when intruders enter their colonies. They are one of five prairie dogs species in North America.