Specializing in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured wildlife in Colorado.
Are the black-tailed prairie dogs whose “towns” we see in Douglas County important to maintaining a balanced ecosystem in the state?
Absolutely! In the ecologically important relationship between predator and prey, our black-tailed prairie dogs play an important role. They are prey to coyotes, hawks, eagles, falcons, badgers, bobcats and fox, all also residents in the state.
Of similar significance is our prairie dogs’ role in supporting over 140 species through the sharing of their burrows, increasing nutrient value and vegetative diversity through their constant nibbling of plant material and attracting a wide variety of species as a result. The highly endangered black footed ferret and the rare burrowing owl depend entirely on prairie dog burrows for shelter. Other species finding shelter in prairie dog towns are rabbits, fox, salamanders, snakes, toads, grasshoppers – the list is long.
Perhaps, if we take a moment to enjoy these playful, communicative animals, we will begin to appreciate their necessary position in our ecosystem. Watch as they touch teeth in “kisses” of familial recognition, laugh as they stand on hind feet with paws in the air, head thrown back to give their “jump-yip” all-clear signal, enjoy their babies in spring as they romp and wrestle near the burrow entrance.
Prairie dog habitat is clearly threatened, not only because of agricultural non-compatibility, but also by urban sprawl. With time, prairie dog overpopulation is followed by under-population and the natural cycles continue. Before we completely remove their habitat, before the many species closely affected by the destruction of prairie dog towns become threatened and to help maintain healthy biological diversity, we must learn to coexist with these interesting creatures.