Working for Watchable Wildlife


Working for Watchable Wildlife

Trails with interpretive signs

Blinds suitable for nature photography

Guided walking tours

Education center

Watchable Wildlife recreation Vision

Habitat Harmony has worked with Northern Arizona University (“N.A.U.”) and Dr. Con Slobodchikoff to install a nature trail with interpretive signs through the prairie dog colony just west of the Coconino County Humane Society in 2000-2001, funded by a Heritage Fund Grant. This is the site that we propose for Flagstaff’s first prairie watchable wildlife site featuring the prairie ecosystem of northern Arizona. Prairie dogs are ideal for watching because they are social animals whose antics are entertaining. Gunnison’s prairie dogs have been noted for their frequent and diverse vocalizations. They are active during the day and much of their activity is above ground. Many other species are present at the proposed site, including coyotes, foxes, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, ravens, weasels, skunks, golden mantled ground squirrels, spotted ground squirrels, rock squirrels, mule deer, elk, an occasional badger and a number of arthropod species.

The area adjacent to the Coconino County Humane Society is well suited for watching wildlife.  It is within the city limits on the Flagstaff Urban Trail and close to Foxglen Park, which draws many residents to the area. It has an Open Space monument marker. The area is undeveloped, except for a walking path and interpretive signs portraying the lives of prairie dogs (their social system, territories, burrows, basic behavior) and also a few of their predators, as well as some of the animals that use the plants at prairie dog towns for forage, such as pronghorn antelope.

This project would be Flagstaff’s first prairie ecosystem watchable wildlife site. It would provide recreational and educational opportunities that highlight the unique wildlife and terrain of the area, for Flagstaff residents as well as visitors. It could serve as a tourist attraction and possibly generate money for our community. Science would also benefit from an urban area that is preserved as habitat for local plant and animal species. This site is where Dr. Con Slobodchikoff conducted some of his groundbreaking research on the communication skills of Gunnison’s prairie dogs and it could serve both N.A.U. and the greater community as a site for future scientific research.

Habitat Harmony has submitted a request to the revised Regional Plan for a policy under Wildlife in the Environment and Conservation Element that calls for the creation of a coalition of government and private groups to implement Arizona Game & Fish’s Watchable Wildlife Recreation Vision for the Flagstaff area. The prairie dog colony at Foxglenn is one of the watchable wildlife areas suggested in the Vision.

We want future generations to have the opportunity to observe wildlife in its native setting–
an opportunity we so often take for granted!