Prairie dogs are central to healthy grasslands in North America, sustaining entire wildlife communities on western prairies. They are also intriguing animals that maintain close-knit social communities and communicate with their own complex language.
Unfortunately, these fascinating and ecologically vital creatures suffer from endless persecution. Victims of intense extermination efforts in the past century, prairie dogs continue to be gunned down, poisoned, bulldozed, and plowed under. Plague, introduced to the Americas in the late 1800s, is also taking a devastating toll – a plague outbreak can wipe out 85-99 percent of prairie dogs in a colony. The result of these threats: all five species of prairie dogs are biologically imperiled, with most occupying less than five percent of their historic ranges. As prairie dogs decline, so goes the myriad wildlife that benefit from prairie dog colonies. The black-footed ferret, for example, is among the most imperiled animals in North America. Its plight can be traced to the collapse of prairie dog populations, which the ferret depends upon for food and shelter.
WildEarth Guardians is working to secure Endangered Species Act protection for prairie dogs and other wildlife in the Prairie Dog Empire, such as black-footed ferrets and mountain plovers. We seek to raise awareness of the importance of these species by honoring prairie dogs in a multitude of ways, including re-defining Groundhog Day as “Prairie Dog Day” in the West and publishing our annual Report from the Burrow: Forecast of the Prairie Dog that grades state and federal agencies on their conservation of prairie dogs. We are also working to create safe refuges for prairie dogs on private and public lands. Our advocacy for prairie dogs will continue until they are recognized and protected as intelligent, social creatures with a key role in the prairie ecosystem.