An environmental group criticized a plan designed to relocate threatened prairie dogs, whose colonies are in the path of rapid development in Iron County.

The Environmental Defense Fund, based in New York, said plans by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to move the threatened species from its natural habitat will lead to the development and destruction of 9,507 acres of prairie dog habitat on private lands over the next two decades.The group also said past experience has shown that only about 3 percent of the prairie dogs relocated actually remain in their new habitat, although a DWR official said new techniques have increased the success rate to 5 percent and the rest disperse to surrounding areas.

"Iron County seems to have one goal in mind: Get rid of the prairie dogs on private lands as quickly as possible and hope they can survive in exile on the federal lands," said David Wilcove, senior ecologist for the environmental group.