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  • Prairie dogs focus of Oct. 8 info session

    Oct 02, 2015 | Read More News
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    Prairie dogPima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation (NRPR) will hold a public information session at its headquarters Thursday, Oct. 8, to share plans about efforts between the county and Arizona Game and Fish (AZGFD) to reintroduce the black-tailed prairie dog, an endangered species, to Sands Ranch near Sonoita. The meeting is 6-7:30 p.m. at 3500 W. River Road.

    Sands Ranch totals 64,000 acres, spanning east of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area to the San Pedro River in Cochise County. Pima County acquired over 5,000 acres of the ranch for conservation purposes in 2008. NRPR and AZGFD expect to construct artificial burrows for the prairie dogs during this next month.

    In 2009, Game and Fish approached NRPR officials about supporting a grant proposal they were developing with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to do additional reintroductions of the prairie dog in the Las Cienegas area. By 2013, officials had evaluated several sites on the Pima County portion of Sands Ranch and talked with operators on Sands and Clyne ranches, who had no significant concerns, said Kerry Baldwin, natural resources division manager with NRPR.

    The black-tailed prairie dog is a species of concern listed in the county’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and Multi-species Conservation Plan, both approved by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Language in the 2004 bond program also supports this type of wildlife management cooperative project on bond-acquired lands.

    Arizona Game and Fish has the primary lead on the project under their statutory jurisdiction over native wildlife in the state, said Baldwin. “They will be responsible for the long-term program elements and maintenance unique to the reintroduction. Our role has been providing the site and helping prepare the site for the animals.”