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Black-tailed Prairie Dog Colony Mapping at the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands

Dr. Jack F. Cully, Jr.


U.S.D.A. Forest Service

Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands


Map active Black-tailed Prairie Dog colony distribution on the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands and compare with distributions from past years.
Attempt to identify active areas of sylvatic plague on grasslands.


All known colonies were mapped on the two grasslands during fall 2009. Colonies were placed on maps in a Geographical Information System (ArcMap) and compared with the distribution of colonies mapped in 2006. The overall area of colonies on the grasslands grew slightly from 2006-2009 (671 ha to 742ha), but these figures hide significant changes in individual colony areas between the two times. At the time colonies were mapped in 2006, epizootic plague remained active, and the largest colonies on the Kiowa and Rita Blanca, colonies K59/60 (48.7 ha), K65 (45.5 ha), K 147 (54.2 ha), RB 82 (172.8 ha), RB 83 (49.2), and RB 89 (53.9 ha) had not been noticeably impacted by plague. When we mapped again in 2009, all but one of these colonies, K65, had been hit by plague and the cumulative area of the affected colonies was reduced from 384.8 ha to 9.8 ha. These five affected colonies accounted for 57% of total colony area in 2006, and were reduced by 97.5% by 2009. In addition, nine colonies that appeared to be growing well in 2006 were inactive when mapped in 2009. These data indicate that plague continues to be active on the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands during 2009.

Products since 2010:

Annual Report for 2009.