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Prairie Dogs

  • Season: open year-round, except in the Conata Basin and several other areas within the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. Please contact the US Forest Service for additional information regarding specific closure locations at (605)279-2125.
  • Limit: Unrestricted
  • Shooting Hours: Unrestricted
  • No restriction on caliber of rifles and/or handguns


The GFP Wild Mammals of South Dakota book shows the distribution or prairie dogs over most of the western two-thirds of the state. The population is considered stable in the state, and in fact prairie dog control measures are actively taken to assist damage the animals cause on some private land.

In other parts of the country, prairie dogs home range has decreased. The US Fish and Wildlife Service considered a petition to list them as a federal threatened species in the late 1990s. South Dakota is one of eleven states that has worked cooperatively to develop management programs to help avoid the need to list the black-tailed prairie dog as a federal threatened species. In August 2004, the black-tailed prairie dog was removed from federal candidate list, due to results of surveys that better described the extent of the species' range and commitments by state, tribal, federal, and private entities to continue to work cooperatively on this issue.
Prairie Dog Management Plan

Prairie Dog Distribution

South Dakota Black-tailed Prairie Dog Colony Acreage and Distribution

National Grasslands

National Grassland areas in western South Dakota, managed by the US Forest Service, are popular hunting destinations. If this is your destination, please contact these grassland offices for information on travel restrictions.

Buffalo Gap National Grasslands
attn. Bob Hodorff
209 North River Street
Hot Springs, SD 57747

Tribal Lands

Native American Tribal lands host some of the state's best prairie dog hunting opportunities.

State licenses are not valid on tribal trust lands, unless authorized by the tribal council. Individual tribes may require a tribal permit to hunt on their lands. Contact the individual tribes to find out what licenses they offer and the cost.

Not all the land inside the South Dakota reservations is under tribal jurisdiction. If you hunt on private land deeded to non-Indians you must have a state license.


Prairie dogs have historically been host to sylvatic plague. The disease was documented in 2004, and since that time prairie dog die-offs have been documented in Shannon and Dewey Counties. Occurrence and spread of sylvatic plague and human cases of plague are being monitored by GFP and the SD Health Department. More information...

Prairie dog colonies are dynamic natural systems and will increase or decrease in size depending on a number of natural and/or human caused factors. Specific written permission from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife Division is required prior to this information be ingused in any publications or for resale.