The Iron County Homebuilders Association met for its monthly luncheon and report, which included new information on the ruling for the prairie dog policy, which will take effect last Saturday.
After U.S. District Judge Dee Benson’s ruling for prairie dogs in 2014 to be removed from private property was overturned in 2017, the court concluded that federal government lacks authority under the Endangered Species Act to regulate the take of Utah prairie dogs on non-federal lands.
The state management authority over the species will immediately be superseded and replaced by the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and applicable U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations. At this point, any current state authorization for take of Utah prairie dogs that is inconsistent with the ESA or associated 4(d) regulations will become ineffective and unenforceable, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services letter sent to the Iron County Home Builders Association members.
“The state authorization will not protect you from criminal exposure under the ESA once the Court of Appeals decision becomes effective,” the letter stated. “The Division is unsure if the USFWS will honor existing development permits once the appellate court becomes effective. We are encouraging the USFWS to adopt the principles in the state management plan. We will continue working with the USFWS to conserve and manage Utah prairie dog populations while striving to minimize their impacts on residents and business owners.”