SALT LAKE CITY -- Federal officials are proposing additional protections for the threatened Utah prairie dog, but aren't listing the rodent as endangered.
The U.S. Department of the Interior says in a proposed rule published Thursday the number of prairie dogs that can be killed or removed from their habitat could be significantly limited if populations don't increase.
Federal law permits removal of 6,000 prairie dogs each year.
That number wouldn't change, but the rule would cap removals at 10 percent of the prairie dog population.
Over the past decade, prairie dogs have numbered about 10,000, mostly in southern Utah.
The change is driven by a lawsuit filed in 2009 by WildEarth Guardians of Santa Fe, N.M.
The group calls the rule a good step, but wants prairie dogs listed as endangered.