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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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South Dakota Joins to Protect Private Property Rights from Federal Prairie Dog Protections


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   Tuesday, June 09, 2015 
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern  (605) 773-3215 

South Dakota Joins to Protect Private Property Rights from Federal Prairie Dog Protections

PIERRE, S.D –  Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that South Dakota has joined 7 other states in an amicus or “friend of the court” brief to support asking the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a ruling striking down federal protections for the Utah prairie dog on private property.

“The States have historically managed the wildlife within their borders. Federal regulation of the white or black-tailed prairie dogs on state, local or private land encroaches on powers reserved to the States under the 10th Amendment and individual property rights,” said Jackley.

The States’ brief takes the position that federal regulation of the Utah prairie dog on private lands violates the Constitution, and that the state of Utah has the authority to manage wildlife within its borders. The States argue that Utah's rural communities are hurt by the "uncontrolled proliferation" of the Utah prairie dog.

 Prairie dogs belong to the Sciuridae family of rodents. There are five species of prairie dogs native to North America. The Utah prairie dog is a member of the white-tailed group. South Dakota is home to the black-tailed prairie dog that is currently listed by federal authorities as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

 U.S. District Court had ruled in favor of state control by determining that federal rules protecting the threatened species were allowing prairie dogs to overtake a town. The property owners from Utah said the small, burrowing animals damaged the airport and cemetery and interrupted funerals with their barking.