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February 2, 2011

Today is Prairie Dog Day!

DENVER — While people across United States will 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 Feb. 2 as Prairie Dog Day.

“Nine different species of wildlife depend on prairie dog populations to survive," said Lindsey Sterling Krank, director of the Prairie Dog Coalition program of The Humane Society of the United States. "Poisoning campaigns, prairie dog killing contests, disease and habitat loss have caused prairie dog populations to decline by more than 90 percent. What is happening to prairie dogs is happening to all the animals on the prairie and The Humane Society of the United States hopes to highlight the plight of these animals by celebrating Prairie Dog Day.”

In Colorado, the Denver Zoo celebrated prairie dogs on Sunday with animal demonstrations, a puppet show and a conservation lecture. This coming Friday, Feb. 4, students from Lowry Elementary School will learn about the importance of prairie dogs at the Plains Conservation Center in Aurora, Colo.

In Utah, 12-year-old Luke Zitting of Murray presented a resolution he authored to state lawmakers asking them to officially declare Feb. 2 as Prairie Dog Day. Accompanying Luke was his state Rep. Tim Cosgrove, D–Midvale.

Prairie Dog Facts

  • Prairie dogs are a keystone species, meaning that other animals — such as the black-footed ferret, mountain plover, swift fox and ferruginous hawk — rely on them to survive.
  • Prairie dog populations have declined nearly 95 percent due to habitat loss, government-sanctioned poisoning, and shooting.
  • Methods used to kill prairie dogs may be especially cruel, such as poisons that can take up to 72 hours to kill the animals.
  • "Contest kills," competitions that award prizes for killing the greatest number of wild animals, often target prairie dogs. These events are inhumane and kill animals who are an essential part of the prairie ecosystem. Resources to campaign against contest kills are available here

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

 

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