Great Basin Naturalist


Relationships of black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) to livestock grazing were studied from 1973 to 1983 on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in northeast Montana. A total of 154 prairie dog colony sites was examined, and most were in association with livestock watering sites and/or areas where the topsoil was disturbed by human activity. Roads and cattle trails were found in 150 of the prairie dog colonies. Prairie dog colonies were found to be located significantly (p < 0.001) closer to livestock water developments and homestead sites than randomly located points. Observations showed cattle to occur significantly (p < 0.05) more on quarter sections with prairie dog colonies as opposed to quarter sections without prairie dog colonies. Forage utilization at one prairie dog colony was estimated at 90% by midsummer. Prairie dogs consumed about a third of the vegetation, with grasses the predominant forage class used.