Wichita Prairie dogs in a northwestern Kansas county could be spared — at least for now.
Officials in Logan County are examining plans for poisoning the prairie dogs after concerns arose about the harm that could also come to rare black-footed ferrets that have recently been reintroduced to the state after 50 years.
County commissioners notified landowners last month that they would start poisoning the prairie dogs Monday. That drew concern among wildlife authorities who feared the poisoning could kill a colony of the ferrets that the federal government reintroduced last year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service met with officials of Audubon of Kansas and Logan County last week. For now, the prairie dogs and ferrets have a reprieve until February, when county officials meet again with wildlife authorities.
“They are continuing to seek ways to do some poisoning, but basically they understand now they can’t charge out and start poisoning,” said Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas.
The commissioners are operating under a state statute that allows county governments to poison land where prairie dogs live and then bill the landowner for the extermination.
Klataske said reintroducing the ferrets will allow the prairie dogs to be controlled naturally if the process is successful. He said black-footed ferrets prey on prairie dogs and live and raise their young in prairie dog burrows.