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Prairie Dogs: America's Meerkats - Conservation

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Uploaded on May 16, 2011

This program discusses Prairie Dog Conservation. All five species are decreasing at an alarming rate. Since 1900, more than 98% of prairie dog habitat has been lost, so that today we have 1- 2% of prairie dog habitat left on our grasslands.

Four primary reasons for this ongoing drastic decline in prairie dog numbers and habitat are POISONING, TARGET SHOOTING, DEVELOPMENT and DISEASE.

Groups and individuals are working to protect and preserve prairie dogs. They are making progress to gain more legal protections with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, acquiring land to preserve prairie ecosystems, educating the public, initiating conservation strategies, and relocating prairie dogs from areas where they are not wanted to safe preserves. Please help prevent prairie dogs from going extinct by supporting these efforts.

The five species of prairie dogs are all found only in North America. All of the prairie dogs are very social animals, living in colonies call towns. They have a social system similar to our own, and a complicated language, just like us.
See pups before they emerge from their natal burrows as well as in different stages of life (an average prairie dog lives 3-4 years), rare above ground mating, greet-kissing, prairie dog chatter and jump-yips!

Prairie dogs are considered Keystone Species of their grassland ecosystems -- some 200 vertebrate species and a number of invertebrate species of animals depend on them for food or for their burrows. Prairie dogs survive in 1-2% of their historic range of habitat. Their numbers have declined drastically over the past 100 years to 1-2% of the number of animals there were historically.

The Mexican prairie dogs are listed as Endangered (under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species -- CITES, as well as recognized by the Mexican government as at high risk of extinction), but are still being killed primarily for agricultural land interests. The Utah prairie dogs are listed as Threatened (under the United States' Endangered Species Act -- ESA), but they are being killed due to land development. The other three species need to be listed also in order to have some protection under the law. The Gunnison's prairie dogs are currently under review for listing under the ESA.

A number of prairie animals are at risk of extinction (as well as prairie dogs themselves) because prairie dog numbers are so low. Five animals that are dependent on prairie dogs and are at highest risk are Black-Footed Ferrets, Swift Foxes, Mountain Plovers, Burrowing Owls and Ferruginous Hawks.

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