US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Published in J. Wildl. Manage. 61(3):1997.


We examined several characteristics of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies in Phillips County, Montana, including slope, aspect, soils, land tenure, and distance from roads using a geographic information system (GIs). Colonies exhibited significantly smaller slopes, but not significantly different aspects than did randomly located polygons. In addition, colonies were more prevalent than expected on well drained clay-loam and loam soils and on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land than on other soil types or on private land. Although prairie dogs commonly use roads for dispersal, distance to nearest road was not related to prairie dog density nor to colony area. These findings could be used to develop a cartographic model of preferred black-tailed prairie dog habitat useful for prairie dog monitoring and management, and for estimating prairie dog expansion potential for possible black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) reintroduction sites.