Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Controversial Critter

Mention of the Black tailed Prairie Dog can raise the hackles on the backs of many westerners in the eleven US state that it occupies.Black Tailed Prairie Dogs are two pound ground squirrels that live in tight knit family groups called coteries.Numerous coteries help make up a town or colony of underground burrows and tunnels where Prairie Dogs live.Prairie Dogs are plant eaters that eat a wide variety of grasses and forbes around their colonies.On the surface Prairie Dog towns can be identified by numerous earthen mounds from three or four inches to as much as a foot high. The mounds offer protection as well as providing a great vantage point from which to spot and observe the numerous predators that seek to have Prairie dogs for a meal. The controversy around Prairie Dogs is complex. It swirls around land owners rights, government control and tradition. It pits recreational shooters, ranch owners and developers against biologists, animal rights groups and even states rights against the federal government. As well as internal conflicts within both state and federal government agencies themselves.Traditionally it has long been held that Prairie Dogs compete against livestock for forage. Prairie dogs are a nuisance and need to be controlled. This has been backed by federal and state poisoning programs and recreational shooting groups as well as the ranchers themselves. On the other side of the coin there are groups of people, scientists and biologists, state and federal officials that are recognizing Prairie dogs as a keystone species. They claim that Prairie Dogs provide foraging, nesting, shelter and refuge for a multitude of other species.They have studies that show over the long term forage, soil conditions and the general overall habitat improve where Prairie Dog Colonies are located.Where do you stand on this issue? Do some research and find out!Here is one article for you to cut and paste for a start. In my time at Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR outside of Denver I had a great time photographing the Black Tailed Prairie Dogs. They provided great entertainment for me and my camera as they went about sunning themselves and foraging for food. God's blessings to all, chris

No comments:

Post a Comment