This state scores low on school funding, kids health care and plenty of other social indicators in national surveys, but one environmental group rates Arizona as a sweet home for prairie dogs.

In a new report, the environmental group Wild Earth Guardians gives Arizona a "B" ranking for its continued efforts to reintroduce prairie dogs to areas where they had previously been extinct. One of the most recent prairie dog reintroductions in this area came in 2008 and 2009, when Arizona Game and Fish Department had about 100 black-tailed prairie dogs transported from New Mexico to the Sonoita area.

Arizona's B rating was the highest among the 12 states graded, Wild Earth Guardians said in a press release this week. Seven of those states including New Mexico got D, D+ or D- grades, while Nebraska and North Dakota got Fs.

In a statement, an Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman said,

"We appreciate the acknowledgment of Arizona’s partnership efforts in prairie dog conservation, including reintroduction of black-tailed prairie dogs as well as management of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. These efforts are part of our holistic approach to grassland management in which all species and their ecological balance are considered.

 

"Our work with black-tailed prairie dogs could not have been accomplished without our partners, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Wildlife Federation, Sky Island Alliance, Animal Defense League of Arizona, volunteers, and funding from the Heritage Fund," Department spokesman Tom Cadden said this week.