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Daily Sun Letter: RE: Golf anyone?

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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!

Bruce Higgins

higgins-with-burrowsPrairie dog burrow area


image - Immediately adjacent area without prairie dog burrows

Prairie Dog Life

Click on the burrow images to find out more.

Nursing Chamber

A mother keeps her young pups safe while the other Prairie Dogs investigate the snake.

Entering the Burrow

A prairie dog hears an emergency cry of "snake" and goes to investigate.

Listening chamber

A prairie dog sits listening just beneath the surface of the ground.

The Rattlesnake

The rattlesnake found a prairie dog burrow to sleep in but has been discovered by the prairie dogs.

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