I was out photographing in an old field behind my neighborhood the other day. I was primarily out there to photograph birds (another post for those will be posted soon), but while I was getting my equipment out of the car, I noticed some fresh new prairie dog holes. A couple were actively being worked on, with clods of dirt being tossed out by invisible little diggers. Then I heard a muffled bark, and noticed this cute little guy just at the top of a rise…just hangin out. He was at a perfect spot to blur out a distant background of trees and sky into creamy boke.
This field used to be a large, open field full of Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs. A neighborhood is being built on part of it now, and sadly, it looks like someone went around and stomped in all of the old holes. I find it appalling that, instead of taking some time to capture and transport prairie dogs to a new home (there is an excellent one just a few minutes away in Cherry Creek), construction workers instead choose to bury them under ground. It looks like some have managed to dig new holes, who knows how many others may not have succeeded in doing that (there are definitely far fewer prairie dogs out in this field than there used to be.)
Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs (the kind that occupy my state) are highly susceptible to plagues, and their populations have fluctuated by significant numbers. In decades past, as little as 300,000 acres of land in the US was populated by Prairie Dog and they were listed as endangered, while in 2004 their populations peaked and they occupied 1.8-2.1 million acres (and I believe they were delisted from the endangered species list). In 2006, plagues decimated populations again (many colonies were completely wiped out, although I do not know the current range or acreage counts). It’s too bad that people are just willing to wipe out entire colonies of these creatures, rather than take the humane course of action, and capture and transport them to either different open lands, or protected lands like Cherry Creek.