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Wind Cave National Park

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The increase in the size and number of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys) ludovicianus) colonies in Wind Cave National Park has been a chronic problem since periodic poisoning programs were discontinued in the mid-1960s. In 1967, there were an estimated 254 hectares of prairie dog colonies in the park (Lovaas 1972). Aerial photographs in 1978 indicated an excess of 500 hectares (Dalsted et al. 1981). This worsening condition is alarming to park managers because 1) the native prairie component of the park is shrinking every year due to encroachment of forest and modification by prairie dogs, 2) prairie dogs are believed to be competing for forage with other grazing wildlife (e.g., buffalo and elk), and 3) the park is being accused by local landowners of being a reservoir for prairie dogs infesting adjacent rangeland.