If you want to get rid of prairie dogs, chances are that they have wreaked some form of damage in your yard and now you want them gone.

How to Get Rid of Prairie Dogs Effectively

Prairie dogs may look cute and cuddly but they can also inflict serious damage on residential spaces. As you read through, we will be discussing into the various methods on how to get rid of prairie dogs and hopefully keep them out.

You may find yourself sighing in relief by the end of this article, comforted by how many ways there are in getting rid of prairie dogs.

How To Get Rid of Prairie Dogs

Getting rid of prairie dogs in your backyard is not always as simple as filling prairie dog holes with dirt. To successfully have prairie dog elimination you must trap them, include chemicals to draw them away, and maybe even call professionals.

– Deterrents

Prairie dogs can abandon areas that are inhospitable to their way of living. You can use certain approaches to discourage or even frighten them away. Decoys, such as figures of their natural predators like badgers, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, golden eagles, and hawks.

It is even better if they are motion-activated to mimic their natural predators. Place your decoys near the burrows and move them around every now and then.

Scents of their natural predators, such as coyotes and foxes, can be effective enough to frighten prairie dogs away. Urine or urine-scented liquids are often available commercially from physical and online stores.

You can always buy them and sprinkle them around their burrows as a way to discourage prairie dogs. Spray urine on decoys if you have them. You can also place urine around the perimeter of your area to proactively prevent prairie dogs.

Strong scents, such as vinegar, spices, mints, and citrus, can discourage prairie dogs. You can use one ingredient or mix all of them into one pungent solution and apply it to the holes of their burrows. You will need to reapply every now and then to make sure the scent does not get washed away by rain or by time.

Motion-activated ultrasonic devices are simple and easy and often come with strobe lights. Prairie dogs can be startled by their sound and light, and could eventually leave if they continually experience irritating sounds and lights. You can place the settings that target prairie dogs, plug the device, and monitor your backyard if they are still hanging around.

– Trapping

If you notice that the number of prairie dogs in your backyard is not too many, this may be a good option.

Trapping prairie dogs

You will have to consider that since the burrowing habits of the prairie dogs mean that there will be multiple entrances, you will also need to prepare multiple traps. You will also need to bear in mind that the prairie dogs are quite intelligent animals capable of colony communication via warning barks.

If you are going to use live traps, it is recommended to either rough them up or disguise them from being too shiny. Prairie dogs instinctively veer away from anything that is unnatural, and your new shiny trap may frighten them away. Place bait inside that the prairie dogs love to eat, such as grasses, seeds, and their favorite broadleaf forbs.

Trapping prairie dogs mean you may need to acquire a permit from your local wildlife, environmental, or conservation department. The authorities will then provide you with a list of regulations including where you can release the captured prairie dogs.

– Hunting

Hunting prairie dogs will most often require state permits since there is a high possibility that they are protected by laws and regulations. However, because these states allow hunting, they most likely view prairie dogs as pests and will most probably allow a higher body count.

If you are not set on hunting the prairie dogs yourself, you can lease your land temporarily as a hunting ground for hunters. Not only will you eliminate prairie dogs, but you also get paid. This makes for an ideal win-win situation.

Prairie dogs are a type of ground squirrel that are herbivorous with a burrowing habit. They are considered keystone animals since their mounds often end up being used by other species.

Nonetheless, some states would find it legal to hunt them. The burrowing activities of the prairie dogs also contribute to grass development and topsoil renewal by unearthing important minerals and nutrients.

Some prairie dogs are considered protected in certain areas as their presence and burrowing activities are seen as more meritorious than bothersome. As a way to maintain local populations to ensure that natural ecosystems remain undisturbed, many areas have local laws protecting the prairie dog.

– Chemical Control

Rodenticides should be used with caution and with good reason. Rodenticides could inadvertently harm other wildlife and domesticated animals that are not meant to be targeted. Not only that, but the natural predators of prairie dogs could accidentally ingest poisoned ones and in turn, perish from the toxins in their prey.

Always use products that are specifically labeled to use on prairie dogs, as it is against federal laws if you do otherwise. It is highly recommended that you identify the species of prairie dogs in your backyard before you decide to use chemicals to control or exterminate them.

While some states allow them, toxic chemicals, in general, should be carefully controlled and kept out of reach, especially when you store them within your property. Residential occupants, such as family, small children, and pets, may contact them accidentally. To avoid untoward incidents, always use and dispose of toxic chemicals as indicated by the manufacturer.


– The Types of Rodenticides

There are several rodenticides to choose from, and they can come in different forms. The main advantage of using rodenticides is that you will have minimal contact with the animals themselves. The drawback is that you may need to safely clean up any poisoned carcasses aside from ensuring federal and state laws have not been violated.

The first-generation poisons are anticoagulatory in nature, which causes animals to bleed internally until they succumb and perish. These toxins work but can take time, making the animals suffer for hours before death.

Second-generation toxins like bromethalin work the same way but are quicker to take effect. Bromethalin works by causing convulsions in the animal before it dies from respiratory failure. The latter can sometimes take a few hours to kill bromethalin fully.

Zinc phosphides are another class of rodenticide; zin phosphides create a toxic gas inside the animal’s stomach as it mixes with the acid, eventually causing death. This method can take several hours for the animal to finally perish.

Some poisons are permitted but restricted by federal laws. You may need to have an applicator license that is specific to the pest control that you want to perform. Ensure that you have the correct licenses to freely apply chemicals that may be restricted federally or locally.

When applying chemical poisons, always make sure that you are wearing protective safety clothing and equipment. Face masks, goggles, and gloves are recommended. Discard and clean safely, as necessary, all of your protective clothing and tools afterward.


Some homeowners use USDA-approved gas cartridges down the entrances of the burrow of the prairie dogs.

USDA approved Gas Cartridges

However, this method is highly dangerous as the cartridges can be loaded with toxic components, such as carbon monoxide and aluminum phosphide. Carbon monoxide is very flammable, whereas aluminum phosphide can cause damage to the lungs, kidneys, and liver.

Gas cartridges are also quite expensive considering that you may need to toss them into multiple entrances several times. The aftermath is also tedious, as you will need to make sure that the immediate and surrounding area are free from any toxic chemicals.

– Professional Services

When all else fails, or you simply do not have the time to do these things yourself, you can always look for a pest extermination specialist. These companies usually have all the required licenses and permits that allow the elimination of prairie dog infestations while keeping your house and your family safe from any chemical exposure.

Frequently Asked Questions

– What Are Prairie Dogs?

Before we begin to start the process of getting rid of prairie dogs in backyard areas, we need to understand the prairie dog first. The term is actually a misnomer as prairie dogs do not belong to the canine family and are not actual dogs. Prairie dogs belong to the rodent family, which includes squirrels, rats, mice, and chipmunks.

Prairie dogs are so named because of their distinctive vocalization system of barks. These vocalizations are their ways of communicating amongst themselves, as well as warning other prairie dogs of signs of danger, such as human and predator presence.

The barks are similar to canines, and, being territorial animals in prairie lands, these animals became known as prairie dogs.

Five species are contained in this genus: the white-tailed prairie dog, the black-tailed prairie dog, the Utah prairie dog, the Gunnison prairie dog, and the Mexican prairie dog.

– Are Prairie Dogs Considered Endangered?

The Mexican and the Utah prairie dogs are listed as endangered species, and it can be illegal to eliminate them. Prairie dogs in general are not only keystone species, but they are also great food sources for other endangered animals, such as the endangered black-footed ferret and the environmentally protected golden eagle.

Therefore, before any prairie dog extermination activities, it is prudent to check with your local wildlife environmental office to prevent any possible harmful and unlawful acts on your part. You can also check with federal authorities aside from state offices to double-check the lawfulness of your intended activities.

– What Are the Habitats of Prairie Dogs?

Prairie dogs are social animals and live in colonies called clans or coteries, with the term dependent on the species. Each colony usually has around a dozen animals per family although some can often go up to more. A large colony is often referred to as a town.

Prairie dog family 1

The underground holes or burrows are elaborate tunnels with various chambers and numerous entrances, each at varying depths between three to six feet underground.

These tunnels normally sprawl out and spread wide underground for around 15 to 20 feet for each family. Their locations are visibly marked with mounds of bare earth with a hole in the middle.


Getting rid of prairie dogs can be a great skill to have especially when your backyard is suddenly full of these creatures. While they can seem harmless at first, a few prairie dogs can easily become an infestation in no time.

Here are a few reminders about prairie dogs and how to eliminate them from your backyard:

  • You can use deterrents, such as decoys, strongly-scented products, and motion-activated ultrasonic devices to discourage prairie dogs.
  • Traps are efficient and humane ways to get rid of prairie dogs in backyard areas, although some states require permits for you to trap and relocate them.
  • You can hunt the prairie dogs or have someone pay you to hunt the prairie dogs, as long as there are permits and licenses allowed by federal and state authorities for this activity.
  • Federal-approved chemical approaches are effective since they tend to work quickly and efficiently. However, you will need to ensure that they are used as intended, disposed of safely, and do not affect other wildlife and domesticated animals, as well as your immediate household.
  • Rodenticides can be an effective method in eliminating prairie dogs, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and are within the federal and state regulations to use them properly.

It is always essential to know the kind of creature you are dealing with before you begin the process of eliminating them.

Now that you know all your possible options, you can now start to make plans to ensure that your backyard remains free and clear of any prairie dogs!

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