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Washington, D.C. - Sens. Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi and Rep. Barbara Cubin, all R-Wyo. support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recent decision not to list the white-tailed prairie dog as either threatened or endangered.

After reviewing a petition from a coalition of environmental groups to list the white-tailed prairie dog, the Service concluded that the animal did not warrant a listing after completing a 90-day finding on the animal.

"We need to have scientific justification for listings," Thomas said. "Many of these petitions bog down the Fish and Wildlife Service from doing the real work -- recovering species," Thomas said. "I'm pleased with the Fish and Wildlife Service's findings. The last thing we need to do is list an animal that is plentiful in our state," he said.

"Too often a plant or animal is added to the list based more on what a special interest lawyer wants rather than what the science tells us. I'm pleased the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service went with the facts on the white-tailed prairie dog petition. That's as it should be," said Enzi. "My colleagues and I will continue to work on reform of the endangered species act so that the decisions are based on the facts every time and the costs of the act are equitably shared."

"It is a rare but happy day when sound science wins out over the bureaucratic nightmare that is the ESA," Cubin said. "Under ESA, Wyoming landowners have already had to deal in recent years with faulty listings of the black-tailed prairie dog, the so-called Preble's jumping mouse, and are currently bracing for a possible listing of the sage grouse -- an animal we still have a hunting season for. We must successfully require the use of field-tested and peer-reviewed science, local input, and common sense in the ESA process," she said.

The Service responded to a petition received in July 2002 from a coalition of seven environmental groups to list the rodent.

The white-tailed prairie dog is found throughout central and western Wyoming, with 55 percent of its habitat on Bureau of Land Management land. It is also found in Montana, Colorado and Utah. The FWS findings will be published today in the Federal Register.

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