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Trump Administration Loosens Utah Prairie Dog Protections

Utah prairie dogs are given looser protections.
Utah prairie dogs are given looser protections.

Wildlife managers under the Trump administration are loosening contentious endangered-species protections for Utah prairie dogs in a plan that's worrying for animal advocates but cheered by people in southern Utah who said their town was overrun.

The new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan makes it easier to develop private land, even it means prairie dogs are removed or killed.

The agency said Friday the 10-year plan will preserve the threatened species while allowing for economic development.

The group Friends of Animals says they're examining the new plan. They've previously warned that loosening the protections could be a death warrant for the animals considered key to the ecosystem.

The changes come after Cedar City property owners said in a lawsuit that regulations allowed the burrowing creatures to overrun their playgrounds, cemeteries and backyards.