Bryce Canyon National Park hosted its first ever "Utah Prairie Dog Summit" on August 13th and 14th. The purpose of the summit was to gather federal and state agencies, scientists, local wildlife biologists and researchers and others to discuss the status of the recovery program for the Federally-listed threatened Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens).
Over 30 people attended the two-day program, which consisted of a formal recovery team meeting as well as a discussion about colonies of Utah prairie dogs within Bryce Canyon and some of the management and conservation challenges facing the park.
The second day of the summit involved touring prairie dog colonies within the park and discussing options to improve habitat, reduce negative impacts on colonies, and proactively manage the species.
Representatives from several Federal agencies attended the summit, including Elise Boeke, recovery team lead for the Utah prairie dog with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as representatives from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, NPS Wildlife Health Program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, an agency working closely with the USFWS on recovery initiatives, also attended the summit. Special guests to the summit included representatives from Garfield County and the offices of Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett and Congressman Jim Matheson.