U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

January 2003


Proceedings of the 10th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. (K.A. Fagerstone. G.W. Witmer, Eds). 2003.


Black-tailed prairie dogs pose management challenges to landowners and resource managers. They are viewed as either a pest when they cause damage to vegetation or property or pose a disease hazard or, conversely, as a valuable Akeystone@ species representative of reasonably intact prairie ecosystems. When conflicts arise with prairie dog colonies, the two main options are capture and relocation or lethal removal. There are a number of vertebrate toxicants registered for field use in the United States, but few are currently registered for prairie dog control. Only one, zinc phosphide, can be applied above ground as a grain bait. The other toxicants (aluminum phosphide pellets, fumigant gas cartridges, and acrolein) are applied in the burrow system as lethal fumigants. Most of these rodenticides are restricted use compounds and can be applied only by a certified pesticide applicator. The rodenticide label must be followed carefully to assure the safety of the applicator and to minimize non-target hazards. We present a brief summary of the toxicants registered for prairie dog control, including history and use patterns, general characteristics and mode of action, toxicity, efficacy, non-target hazards, and environmental fate.