Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

September 2002


© 2002 University of Nebraska, School of Natural Resources. Used by permission.


Prairie dogs play an important role in the prairie ecosystem by creating unique patches of habitat in the expansive prairies of the American West. Their daily activities change the physical characteristics of the community, which leads to increased plant and animal diversity. Prairie dogs are a source of food for several predators, and their burrows provide homes for a variety of species, including the burrowing owl and endangered black-footed ferret. They also provide recreational opportunities for nature observers, photographers, and the sporting public. The presence of large, healthy prairie dog towns, however, is not always compatible with agriculture and other human land-use interests, but we can coexist. We should strive to conserve prairie dogs and their habitat while maintaining populations at acceptable levels. Through proper management, we can ensure that the complex community of plants and animals that are supported by and dependent on prairie dogs can continue to meet at the crossroads of the prairie.