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Daily Sun Letter: RE: Golf anyone?
A letter published in the Sun on August 26th makes three claims about prairie dogs that are easily fact-checked:
1. Prairie dogs don’t provide food for predators. In checking several sources (Kansas State University, Wikipedia, and the research-based ICWDM), all agree that prairie dogs are prey to a number of raptors and mammals, including the three I have seen hunting them behind Foxglenn Park – golden eagle, red-tailed hawk and coyote. Whether predators are on the writer’s property may have to do with nearby domestic dogs or available roosts.
2. Burrows provide shelter for other disease-carrying rodents. In a study of 777 burrows, the authors found only three other rodents occupying them – one mouse and two ground squirrels. Many other species do use their burrows, including rabbits, other mammals and various birds.
3. Ready-made golf course. I have to agree; prairie dogs can be a real nuisance in the wrong places, including under the sidewalks or in the fields of Foxglenn Park. But behind the park, their activity seems to have controlled a dense infestation of knapweed while creating a stunning wildflower display in August. I hope we can continue learning how to live with these creatures!
Prairie dog burrow area
image - Immediately adjacent area without prairie dog burrows