The importance of prairie dogs

  • Prairie dog

    Neal and Mary Jane Mishler
  A report, Conserving Prairie Dog Ecosystems on the Northern Plains, defends one of nature's best dinners. Published by the Predator Project in Bozeman, Mont., the 30-page booklet explains how prairie dogs create a unique environment that provides food and shelter to at least 158 other species, including the endangered black-footed ferret and the swift fox. Get rid of the prairie dog and the entire ecosystem of the West is disrupted (HCN, 11/11/96). To preserve the declining rodent and its shrinking habitat, the group suggests more ranchers raise bison instead of cattle since bison are less prone to tripping over the rodents' dens. The report seems accurate and unbiased, except for one detail. A photo on page 18, captioned "recreational prairie dog shooting," shows an all-terrain vehicle replete with gun and prairie dog pelts. In reality, the rodents were killed two decades ago by a wildlife biologist conducting research.

For a free copy, contact the Predator Project, P.O. Box 6733, Bozeman, MT 59771 (406/587-3389) or by e-mail at [email protected] et.

* Mark Matthews

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