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Are Livestock Weight Gains Affected by Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs?

Justin D. Derner, James K. Detling and Michael F. Antolin
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Vol. 4, No. 9 (Nov., 2006), pp. 459-464
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3868819
Page Count: 6
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Are Livestock Weight Gains Affected by Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs?
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Abstract

There is little empirical data addressing the important and controversial question of how prairie dogs (Cynomys spp) affect livestock weight gains in western rangelands. This is particularly relevant in the short-grass steppe, where the area occupied by prairie dogs has increased substantially in recent years, exacerbating conflicts with livestock producers. In our 6-year study, livestock weight gains decreased linearly, but at a rate slower than the rate of colonization by black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus). This decrease in livestock gains 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 per steer (from $273.18 to $258.23 per steer) and by $2.23 ha-1 (from $40.81 to $38.58 ha-1). In pastures with 60% occupancy, reduced livestock weight gain lowered estimated value by $37.91 per steer and $5.58 ha-1 or about 14%.

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