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25 October 2011

COLORADO COLLEEN: I Heart Prairie Dogs


I'm a Denver-based writer, and have reported extensively for The Denver Post on the natural world in a former series titled "The Nature of..." One installment - "The Nature of Prairie Dogs" - taught me how important prairie dogs are as a species supporting dozens of other species as wide ranging as spiders to burrowing owls.

Pictured, a black-tailed prairie dog. Image courtesy of We For Animals.

I also was amazed to learn that prairie dog communications rank as complex or moreso than dolphins' "language." Prairie dogs keep their colonies tidy and live in community, in addition to being cute as can be. And their link to Bubonic plaque or broken legs on livestock is highly exaggerated.
Therefore, I just joined WildEarth Guardians in messaging my gratitude to decision makers for having the wisdom and foresight and compassion to relocate a colony of prairie dogs. Here's the text:

"As a supporter of WildEarth Guardians and policies established to protect wildlife, I am writing to urge you to support the relocation of prairie dogs to Rabbit Mountain Open Space.

Prairie dogs are a central part of grassland ecosystems in North America, creating vibrant landscapes of life on western prairies. They are recognized as a keystone species and greatly enhance the land they inhabit by aerating and turning the soil, providing meals for predators, and creating burrows that shelter a host of other animals including snakes, cottontail rabbits, burrowing owls, beetles, and salamanders, to name a few. The nutritious vegetation in their colonies is kept neatly trimmed, providing fertile foraging for grazers such as bison and pronghorn. These important creatures should be preserved, and I support Boulder County's efforts to relocate them out of harm's way. Additionally, I appreciate my tax payer dollars being spent to improve our communities by creating healthy wildlife populations for future generations instead of poisoning or eradicating them.

I applaud Boulder County Parks and Open Space for working to implement non-lethal prairie dog management, and I support this relocation effort."

Wag your prairie dog tale.


Colleen Smith gardens in and writes from a historic neighborhood in central Denver.

Her second book, "Laid-Back Skier," was just released in September 2011 and is available through FridayJonesPublishing.com or Amazon.com.

Her first novel, "Glass Halo," was a finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize.

Please feel free to post a comment here: I'd love to hear from you. ~ Colleen Smith

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