Moving To New Digs!

Print Email

  • Since 2000, and the first known translocation of Gunnison's prairie dogs in northern Arizona, we have moved over 964 evicted prairie dogs to safe, new homes. We have also consulted and trained the staff of several federal agencies on conducting additional translocation efforts moving hundreds more prairie dogs to new homes on federal lands.
  • After mapping the burrow locations and assessing the size of the colony, the first job on a translocation project is studying the family groups, or "coteries." Prairie dogs fare better when they are moved with their families.
  • Another job that must be finished before we begin capturing is finding the new homes. Arizona Game and Fish Department approves of all of our release sites and so do the landowner, which also must be treated for plague. Abandoned burrows make the best new homes. Occasionally artificial burrow systems need to be created to help the release prairie dogs get started.
  • We use humane traps to capture the prairie dogs, and once they are captured we quickly cover the traps with burlap, which we sometimes spray with a mist from a water bottle, to help keep the prairie dogs cool. They are sensitive to temperature changes and cannot be allowed to get too hot or too cold. Their burrows provide a regulated temperature.
  • At the release site, we open a cage over the burrow entrance and once the prairie dog is secure inside the new burrow, we say a blessing. The different Blessings we use may be found by Clicking Here.
  • Habitat Harmony volunteers return almost daily to the release site to provide supplemental feed for the translocated prairie dogs for at least two weeks after they are released and then continue to do observations during the first two months following a translocation, to see if the prairie dogs are adjusting to their new community. Monitoring continues for a full year.
  • Habitat Harmony worked with the Arizona Game & Fish Department to write the TRANSLOCATION PROTOCOL FOR GUNNISON’S PRAIRIE DOGS IN ARIZONA

(But we are sure that we have heard several of the females commenting on the new digs, something to the effect that, "The new place is really more roomy and the neighborhood is soooo quiet!")

Capture and Release Techniques

When prairie dogs are translocated, the best release sites are abandoned burrows.  However, due to the scarcity of abandoned prairie dog colonies that are approved for Gunnison's prairie dog translocation, Habitat Harmony researched releasing prairie dogs into man-made burrows.  This report also includes information on visual barriers.

Capture & Release Research Report by Chris Campbell

Post-release Survival Success Study

A Non-Lethal Management Guide for Gunnison’s Prairie Dogs

Download Now

Translocation: A Briefing for Developers in Gunnison Prairie Dog Habitat

Download Now

2018 Rt 66 & 4th St. Translocation

Print Email


Local developer, Karan Patel, loves animals and decided to save this large colony from near certain death during construction by moving them to a new home. Although not legally required to do so, Patel and his business partners made a commitment to do what’s right for these adorable native residents and willingly covered the majority of the costs of the translocation, with assistance from local donors, volunteers, Arizona Game and Fish, and Petrified Forest National Park, the colony’s new home. Habitat Harmony conducted the translocation in July 2018 at the corner of Route 66 and 4th Street in Flagstaff and successfully captured 105 prairie dogs from the property before it is scheduled for development.

2016 HWY 89 & Copeland Ave. Translocation

Print Email


In August 2016, a total of 50 prairie dogs were captured and translocated from the property at the corner of Highway 89 and Copeland Ave before the construction of the future Timberline Firearms and Training business and released into Petrified Forest National Park.

2013 Country Club Translocation

Print Email

Releasing Prairie Dogs into new home

In July and August 2013, Habitat Harmony worked with Vintage Partners to translocate 70 Gunnison’s prairie dogs from the corner property at Country Club and Interstate 40 in Flagstaff to new homes on Babbitt Ranches.

In addition to the 43 field days and many hours of daily work by the relocation coordinator, five field technicians, and our volunteer coordinator on the project, Habitat Harmony oversaw 42 volunteers whom contributed approximately 360 hours over the course of 36 volunteer field days to assist with this relocation effort. Volunteers included two AZGFD interns, three Kaibab National Forest interns and a wildlife biologist for the Kaibab National Forest from Williams, as well as many individual community members interested in the welfare of the prairie dogs.

2011 APS Renewable Energy Site Prairie Dog Relocation

Print Email

aps-relocation-0Habitat Harmony was contacted by EN3, Professionals, LLC and APS to help manage a colony of Gunnison's prairie dogs living on a 10 acre site designated for a new renewable energy site in Doney Park.

Through humane trapping and relocation techniques, we attempted to remove as many of the prairie dogs living on the site as possible before construction work and ground grading began.

An abandoned prairie dog colony with pre-existing burrows located far away from development was selected as the release site for the displaced prairie dogs and permission was obtained from the land owner and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

2007 Translocation

Print Email

2007 100 7458In 2007 the City of Flagstaff built a new fire station on Highway 180 next to the building where the Grand Canyon Trust is housed. The City agreed that Habitat Harmony could capture and translocate prairie dogs at this site prior to development. Both the trapping and the sidsing methods of capture were used. It was during this project that two prairie dogs pups were captured without their mothers. Being too young to release, these two were kept and became our prairie dog ambassadors. 16 prairie dogs were released at the same Game & Fish facility as were the 2005 prairie dogs, and Habitat Harmony has been monitoring their progress.

2005 Translocation

Print Email

2005 100 1916In 2005 Habitat Harmony volunteers learned the "sudsing process" to capture prairie dogs.  Lindsey Sterling-Krank of the Prairie Dog Coalition in Boulder, Colo., assisted.  15 prairie dogs were captured at three sites and released at the Game & Fish facility east of Flagstaff.  Habitat Harmony has followed their release and is pleased to note that they have multiplied in numbers.

2003 Translocation Project

Print Email

In 2003 The Flagstaff Mall began an expansion onto 90 acres adjacent to the existing mall.  Habitat Harmony and Arizona Game & Fish cooperated to translocate 299 prairie dogs.  Many Habitat Harmony volunteers worked to accustom the prairie dogs to go into traps using peanutbutter and molasses bait.  Habitat interns observed the prairie dogs to be sure they were translocated in family groups.  Volunteers released the prairie dogs at two locations, one ranch east of town and a Game & Fish facility east of town. Westcor, Inc. and the City of Flagstaff cooperated in this large translocation.

2000 Translocation Project

Print Email

In 2000 the City of Flagstaff expanded Foxglenn Park into a wildlife corridor used by many migrating wildlife and home to a large prairie dog colony. Prior to development the City agreed to a translocation project for the prairie dogs. This project was a joint effort between Arizona Game & Fish and Habitat Harmony Inc. and was the first transloction of Gunnison prairie dogs in northern Arizona. At the same time, Coconino County developed Peaks Park near Cromer School. Habitat Harmony and Game & Fish also translocated prairie dogs from the county location. Approximately 170 prairie dogs were translocated in this project. Many Habitat volunteers observed the prairie dogs to be sure they were translocated in family groups as well as helping to trap and release them.

Prairie Dog Blessings

Print Email

by Ann Weiler Walka

 At the Traps:  close gently and keep the little dog safe
Ah little dogs
Your friends are making prayers for you
Your friends are singing your praises
We bow to you who prosper by staying put
You who tend your garden and shelter your neighbors
You who stand watch
We honor your work:  burrowing, raising fat babies
feeding hawk with your bodies
We thank you for your rich soil and thick grass,
for the circle of lives
We thank you for standing watch for us all
We thank you for standing your ground
Your friends are singing your praises
Your friends are making prayers for you
In your new home, we wish you this again

At Departure
Blessings little dogs on your journey.
May the comfort of home travel with  you.
May you leave this cage in good voice and good health.
May your sharp eyes keep you safe in the new place.
May the desert sun warm you early and late.
May you greet your relations before nightfall.
May you sleep unafraid in your new burrow.
May the hawk and coyotes be fooled by your migration.
May the badgers be taken by surprise.
In your new home may you find companions, sanctuary, seeds.

At Release:  wishes for the new life (to choose from)
May you go safely into this new life.
May you find sanctuary, seeds, solace.
May this ground be your home.
May your relatives arrive soon and thrive with you.
May the coyotes be fat and the badgers lazy.  May the hawks fly off toward the mountain.
May the grasses grow thick and tender.  May the seeds by abundant.  May the leaves be wet and sweet.
May the desert sun warm your back early and late.
May your children grow fat and lively.
May you be in good voice and good health.
May your eyes be sharp and your mind smooth.
May the new dangers be clear.
May your territories be spacious and distinct.
May the desert ground shelter you well.
May your life here be good.  May your death feed the hungry.

A Message to Humans

"I used to be a city fellow.  I grew up with the city noises of cars and trains and machines and humans.  My family lived close to downtown Flagstaff not far from the railroad tracks along Route 66.  What a busy, frightening place it was."
Read My Letter to You

Prairie Dog Life

Click on the burrow images to find out more.

Nursing Chamber

A mother keeps her young pups safe while the other Prairie Dogs investigate the snake.

Entering the Burrow

A prairie dog hears an emergency cry of "snake" and goes to investigate.

Listening chamber

A prairie dog sits listening just beneath the surface of the ground.

The Rattlesnake

The rattlesnake found a prairie dog burrow to sleep in but has been discovered by the prairie dogs.

Close Panel

Donate Today!

To make a one-time contribution to Habitat Harmony, Inc. you may donate securely using PayPal's encrypted server by filling out the form below. You do not need to have a paypal account to complete this transaction.
Amount: $
Habitat Harmony, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization (Federal Tax ID# 86-0994815). Contributions to Habitat Harmony, Inc. are deductible for federal income tax purposes pursuant to Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code. Please consult with your tax advisor.