Conata Basin Slideshow
Conata Basin is a huge current focus for the Prairie Dog Coalition. As you can tell by the map on the bottom, Conata Basin is adjacent to Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The Basin is known as one of the gems of the Great Plains. In 2007, the Prairie Dog Coalition had the honor of trapping and releasing black-footed ferrets in the area. In the morning as the sun was rising, and we were releasing the most endangered mammal in North America, burrowing owls, swift fox, ferruginous hawks and of course prairie dogs, all came out to say hello. Conata Basin was teeming with wildlife and every single species out there was connected directly to the prairie dog. It was an amazing experience and rejuvenated our drive to protect this imperiled species for the year to come.
Last year, the Forest Service released a plan that if adopted, could poison up to 16,000 acres of prairie dogs in Conata Basin. The area is home to the largest population of prairie dogs on public land in the Great Plains. These prairie dog colonies are what also make the site the world’s successful black-footed ferret reintroduction site. Not only is the massive poisoning cruel and inhumane to the prairie dogs, but all the scientific data points to jeopardizing the recovery effort for the endangered black-footed ferrets. Black-footed ferrets rely 100% on prairie dogs for food.
As soon as the news of the Forest Plan came out, the Prairie Dog Coalition took action. With the approval of a $10,000 grant from the Temper of the Times Foundation, we were able to successfully launch a public and media outreach campaign. The campaign raised public support for the prairie dogs and then displayed that support to the elected officials and government agencies making the decision to poison or not. Today, the decision has been delayed and the prairie dogs have been are safe for twelve months. Because of the Keep Poisons Off Our Prairie campaign we launched, we raised enough public support to influence the decision makers to give us more time to implement alternatives. These alternatives do one thing: Halt prairie dog poisoning in Conata Basin and work towards implementing permanent, win-win solutions for the wildlife and the community. The PDC will continue to work to make these alternatives happen.
Forest Service managers continue to threaten poisoning this area. If this is an issue that speaks to you personally, please consider making a donation in the name of the Keep Poisons Off Our Prairies Campaign or email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can help by taking action today!