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September 9, 2011

Kind News Extra: Make February 2nd Prairie Dog Day!

And other ways you can help our friends on the prairie

Each year on February 2, people across the United States watch Punxsutawney Phil to see whether his shadow will forecast six more weeks of winter. The Humane Society of the United States and wildlife groups are also calling attention to the groundhog’s cousin—the prairie dog—by observing February 2 as Prairie Dog Day.

Last year, 12-year-old Luke Zitting of Utah joined the cause. He asked his state to celebrate Prairie Dog Day each February 2 and called for prairie dog protection.

You can help too! Write letters to elected officials asking them to declare February 2 as Prairie Dog Day. Be sure to back up your opinions with some facts, and also try to speak from your heart.

More Fun Prairie Dog Activities

 

  • One of the things Professor Con Slobodchikoff has been trying to do is to set up formal wildlife watching areas, where people can come to watch the cute creatures. Since prairie dogs are active during the day, Slobodchikoff says “you can see them scampering around, feeding, playing, fighting, and doing all kinds of things. They are highly entertaining. If a community set up a formal watchable wildlife place… communities could use this to their economic advantage. There are so many people interested in ecotourism and photo tourism!”

    Slobodchikoff invites kids to contact government officials and ask for better policies toward prairie dogs. Kids can suggest that instead of destroying prairie dog colonies, it's better to set up wildlife viewing stations for everyone to enjoy watching them.

  • Do a web search of prairie sites and try to learn 5 new things. Be sure to check out the sites of the groups that sponsor Prairie Dog Day!

  • Look up the five different species of prairie dogs. Make a chart to keep track of how they are similar, and how they are different. Draw them!

  • Try to communicate for 5 minutes without using words! You can only squeak, squeal or bark!

  • Look up some prairie dog scientists. Here are some names you could start with: John Hoogland, Con Slobodchikoff, Richard Reading and Brian Miller.

  • Draw a giant prairie dog. With arrows, label the many adaptations that help prairie dogs survive on the prairie. Try to come up with at least eight.

  • Make a large bulletin board of the prairie food web, to teach others about the prairie. Connect the animals and plants with arrows. Be sure to point the arrow in the right direction! Ask your teacher for help with that part.

  • Create a diorama of the prairie ecosystem. Include several species of plants and animals.

  • Watch this slideshow about how we're helping prairie dogs in Wyoming.

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