Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/5/2006
Publication Date: 2/9/2007
Citation: Derner, J.D., Detling, J.K., Antolin, M.F. 2007. Effects of prairie dogs on livestock gains in shortgrass steppe. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts. CDROM Traditions and Transitions #121. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: There are few empirical data addressing the important and controversial question of the effects of prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) on livestock weight gains in western rangelands. This is particularly relevant in the shortgrass steppe where the area occupied by prairie dogs has increased substantially in recent years, exacerbating conflicts with livestock producers. In our six-year study, livestock weight gains decreased linearly with increasing percentage of the pasture recently colonized by black-tailed prairie dogs (C. ludovicianus) at moderate densities, but this decrease was slower than the increase in area of prairie dog colonies. Reductions in livestock weight gains in pastures with prairie dogs resulted in lower estimated economic returns. For example, pastures with 20% of area occupied by prairie dogs reduced the estimated value of livestock weight gain by $14.95/steer (from $273.18 to $258.23/steer) and by $2.23/ha (from $40.81 to $38.58/ha). In pastures with 60% occupancy reduced livestock weight gain lowered estimated value by $37.91/steer and $5.58/ha, or about 14%.