These personable burrow-dwellers are a keystone species, providing essential food and digging underground tunnels other native wildlife make use of. Unfortunately, neither their charm nor their role in promoting biodiversity has saved prairie dogs from decades of persecution by those who view them as pests. Every year, prairie dogs are poisoned, shot for sport or even buried alive when colonies are bulldozed to make way for development.
One scientific study shows that prairie dogs have complex language skills, including “words” for specific things they see, like “tall human in blue shirt.”
Prairie dogs build intricate warrens with kitchen, bedroom, nursery and bathroom areas. These underground tunnels also benefit jackrabbits, tiger salamanders, toads, swift foxes, burrowing owls and other species.
No matter how big or small your outdoor space, you can create a haven for local wildlife. By pledging to provide basic needs like water, food and shelter for wildlife, you can make a difference in your own backyard.