May 27, 2010 7:54 PM by Elaine Sheridan
The high-altitude cousin of the black-tailed prairie dog has also been denied federal protection.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced Thursday that the white-tailed prairie dog does not merit protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The agency reached the same conclusion in December for the species' better-known cousin, the black-tailed prairie dog that dwells on the prairie and is a nuisance to most farmers and ranchers. The white-tailed prairie dog is found at altitudes above 5,000 feet in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Montana.
Federal wildlife authorities say the white-tailed prairie dog population "has not substantially changed" and that the critter doesn't face significant threat from urbanization or energy development.