In Colorado, it is unlawful to capture, transport and relocate black-tailed prairie dogs without a permit from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). It is also unlawful in Colorado to capture, transport and deliver prairie dogs live to facilities that support the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) national black-footed ferret recovery program, or a licensed raptor rehabilitation program without a permit from CPW. No permit is required for prairie dogs that are euthanized on site and donated to a wildlife rehabilitation facility, but a report form must be submitted within 5 business days of the donation. Please note that these applications are for black-tailed prairie dogs only, and do not apply to any other species.
The permit application forms and dead prairie dog donation report form required for these activities are available on the
Application Forms page.
Frequently asked questions can be found on the
Relocation Facts Question and Answer page. Statutes and regulations that form the framework for these application processes can be viewed below.
Important notes about the permit application process
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 live 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.
Applicants are encouraged to contact their local District Wildlife Manager well in advance of the desired project start date. It is recommended that completed applications be submitted at least 60 days prior to the desired effective date.
The application process to relocate prairie dogs live to a raptor rehabilitator or the black footed ferret program is simplified, as approval of a suitable release site is not necessary. Potential applicants should contact their local District Wildlife Manager for details about the process and requirements.
All live traps (limited to cage or box traps) placed on public lands must be labeled permanently with the trapper’s name.
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 (PDF) and Game Damage (PDF) sections of Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations.