In Colorado, it is lawful to capture, transport, and relocate black-tailed prairie dogs from one site to another suitable site, with and only with, a permit from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). It is also lawful, in Colorado, to capture, transport, and deliver prairie dogs to facilities that support the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) national black-footed ferret recovery program, or a licensed raptor rehabilitation program. Each of these activities requires a specific and separate permit from CPW. The permit required for live relocation is referred to as "wild to wild;" the permit for capturing and donating prairie dogs to the black-footed ferret program is called: "wild to black-footed ferret recovery program (bffrp);" and the third permit is called the "wild to raptor rehabilitation."
The permit application forms required for these activities are available on the Application Forms page. Be sure to select the appropriate files. The Special Conditions of these permits are extensive, and should be read and considered prior to applying for a permit.
Frequently asked questions, along with brief answers, can be found on the FAQ page. Statutes and regulations that form the framework for these application processes can be viewed on the below. Please note that these applications are for prairie dogs only, and do not apply to any other species.
Important notes about the permit application process
Regardless of the type of permit, applicants must have landowner permission (or permission of a landowner designee) to capture prairie dogs from the capture colony site, and must ensure that their trapping/relocation efforts do not, in any way, result in negative impacts to threatened or endangered species.
The application process for wild-to-wild relocation requires several steps, the following highlights key points. Potential applicants should contact their local District Wildlife Manager for details about the process and requirements.
Applicants must have permission from the landowners of the proposed relocation or "release" site.
The release site must meet minimum habitat suitability requirements. Factors that will be considered include site size, vegetation, slope and soil type. If the proposed release site is currently occupied by prairie dogs, additional factors need to be considered.
Any proposal to capture prairie dogs in one county and release them in a different county, requires the approval of the receiving county board of commissioners.
Prior to approving an application, CPW will review and consider both the potential biological and social impacts of the proposed relocation; this will include review of future management plans for the release site as well as consideration of any expressed support or contest regarding the proposed relocation activity.
The application process for "wild to raptor rehabilitation," is simplified, as approval of a suitable release site is not necessary. No permit fee is charged. Potential applicants should contact their local District Wildlife Manager for details about the process and requirements.
The application process for "wild to bffrp," is also simplified. No permit fee is charged. Potential applicants should contact their local District Wildlife Manager for details about the process and requirements.
Applicants and permittees are required to comply with all related federal, state and local laws, rules, regulations, guidelines and protocols regarding trespass, wildlife, transport, pesticide application etc. related to this activity.
CPW does not itself directly participate in or provide on-site management of relocation processes. Most relocation efforts are coordinated by local governments or private/non-profit groups, with the actual capture, transport and relocation usually handled by contract with a private company or individual with skills in this area.
Public interest in urban and suburban black-tailed prairie dog populations is strong in some regions of the state. Especially in suburban and urban areas, where development is planned for old-field communities on which prairie dogs have been living, public desire for alternatives to colony destruction can be substantial. When suitable release sites are available, and there is local support for relocation, prairie dog relocation can be permitted.
The current statutes and regulations that form the framework for the application processes can be viewed under the
General Provisions and Furbearers and Small Game, Except Migratory Birds sections of Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations.