Sylvatic plague that has devastated prairie dog colonies across western South Dakota since 2007 has spread north and east and is now affecting colonies in the Fort Pierre National Grassland.
Wildlife biologist Ruben Mares said that prairie dog towns are becoming fewer and farther between. He says last year, one colony he monitors had shrunk from 30 acres to 5 acres.
South Dakota is a premier destination for prairie dog hunters. Hunting might be tougher this year, but hunters say other states like Kansas and Oklahoma are even worse off.
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife Damage Program Administrator Keith Fisk says sylvatic plague is here to stay, though there's little danger prairie dogs will be wiped out because they have a high birth rate.