Save The Prairie Dogs

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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SAVE THE PRAIRIE DOGS There are many reasons why prairie dogs should not be eliminated from the Earth. Currently prairie dogs are being poisoned, bulldozed and shot, and they are experiencing a major drop in population. The most important reason we need to save the prairie dog is that they are considered to be a keystone species by some environmentalists. Also, prairie dogs help the grass grow around them, which would be beneficial to the ranchers' cattle.

A keystone species is a species that many other different species directly depend on. There are nine species that are considered to be directly dependant on prairie dogs and their colonies, they are: black-footed ferret, burrowing owl, mountain plover, ferruginous hawk, golden eagle, swift fox, horned lark, deer mouse, and grasshopper mouse (Kotliar 1999). If the prairie dogs became extinct, not only would these species go down with the prairie dogs, but also the species that rely on the nine species that directly depend on the prairie dogs.

It would continue to fan out until many different species are affected by the extinction of the prairie dogs. Over two hundred different species have been seen on or near the colonies of prairie dogs. Some use the prairie dogs as a source of food. Many creatures use the colonies as homes. Some examples of animals that use the burrows of prairie dogs as homes for themselves are burrowing owls, badgers, rabbits, black-footed ferrets, snakes, salamanders, and various insects. Prairie dogs are a critical food source to many species including the endangered black-footed ferret ( Many people believe that prairie dogs are very abundant. This is completely false. Today, prairie dogs occupy less than one percent of the land that they inhabited a hundred years ago. That is an unacceptable decline in population of a keystone species such as the prairie dog.

Many ranchers claim that prairie dogs destroy the land that their cattle graze on. If anything the prairie dogs help the grass, hat the cows consume, continue to grow abundantly. As the prairie dogs burrow and dig their tunneling colonies they mix up the soil allowing it for more successful plant life and growth. They allow for a more nutritious and nitrogen-rich type of grass, which the cows will be benefited from(

I think it is quite clear why we must preserve the prairie dogs. They are a major keystone species in the prairie ecosystem. If prairie dogs were lost forever, many other species would most likely go out along with them. They are just to important to be killed off, and I think it is ridiculous that prairie dogs continue to be poisoned, bulldozed and shot. We need to save the prairie dogs of the Great Plaines.