Scenic, SD – Part of the prairie dog population in Fall River County in western South Dakota has been decimated, and officials believe the plague is responsible.
Prairie dog deaths in the area make it less attractive for reintroduction of the endangered black-footed ferret -- which preys on prairie dogs.
However, plague still has not been found in Conata Basin near Badlands National Park, which is the site of the most successful black-footed ferret reintroduction in the nation.
Plague first was confirmed in western South Dakota almost three years ago when a rancher found a sick prairie dog in extreme southwestern Custer County.
Until then, it had been decades since the plague was confirmed in South Dakota.
The plague in prairie dogs generally does not pose a widespread threat to humans.