Key Messages for Prairie Dogs
At least nine wildlife species depend on prairie dogs for food or shelter.
I think we can all agree that preserving wildlife and our natural heritage is important to Americans.
The prairie dog has a special place in the hearts of Coloradans, as well as a special place in nature as a key species for so much other wildlife including songbirds, owls, foxes, badgers and others. People appreciate that key role, and that is why we have seen so much support for providing strong protections for prairie dogs and their habitat, so much of which has been lost to development.
Folks here want decisions concerning their protection based on science, not politics, and the scientific evidence is clear that prairie dogs and their habitat need protection.
Research we have conducted shows strong public support for prairie dogs. For example,
- 65% of Colorado voters oppose poisoning prairie dogs on public lands.
- 68% in ten Colorado voters oppose allowing recreational shooting of prairie dogs on public land
Most importantly, our research shows that Coloradans feel it is important to protect prairie dogs.
- We donít think we should be poisoning wildlife on our public lands. I think I speak for most Americans when I say that we oppose using taxpayer dollars to scatter dangerous poisons across the landscape all for the purported benefit a few special interests.
- Other animals, such as burrowing owls, rabbits, and songbirds, are being killed, illegal poisons are being used, and required precautions are not being followed.
- Worst of all, poisoning is cruel and inhumane, and requires that people reapply the poisons on a regular basis, continually putting these dangerous chemicals into our environment.
- Urban: We believe that translocating prairie dogs to other sites and implementing other non-lethal alternatives provide a better alternative to using poisons
- Rural: Prairie dogs only survive on <X% of this region, we promote restoring the balance and letting prairie dogs and the many animals they support survive in a small corner of our public lands
- Poisoning/gassing our wildlife, including prairie dogs, is cruel and inhumane. Poison causes tremendous pain and suffering through internal bleeding that can last up to 72 hours.
- We have to stop sending the message to our children that itís okay to poison their wildlife and destroy their natural heritage. The fact is, these practices are cruel and inhumane.
- Poisoning prairie dogs turns our public lands into killing fields and their own burrows and homes into torture chambers.
- Nine species of wildlife are directly affected by the decline of the prairie dog population. What we do to the prairie dog affects all these other animals.
- Over the last 150 years, prairie dogs have declined by over 95%. Declines continue today. In the last 15 years, thereís been a further 60% decrease of large prairie dog complexes.
- Although prairie dogs are visible on the landscape and many small towns have increased, many more have declined or vanished. For example, last year alone, almost all of the 100,000 acres on Pine Ridge Reservation vanished, a colony larger than all Front Range colonies combined.
- This is about balance: prairie dogs exist on less than 1% of the Great Plains. Scientists say that if this downward trend continues, burrowing owls and others will disappear too.
- As good stewards of the land, we need to ensure healthy populations of wildlife for our future generations.
Prairie dogs are a key species:
- Prairie dogs are like a canary in the coal mine. If their population declines and dies, others will soon follow. The loss of prairie dogs has implications that go beyond just having a thriving prairie dog population.
- Prairie dogs are a key species to nine other species, such as hawks and owls, foxes and ferrets, and many others that depend on prairie dogs for food, or their burrows for shelter. If we want all these Great Plains species to survive, we need a healthy prairie dog population.
Putting the science in and taking the politics out:
- Decisions on protecting wildlife such as prairie dogs need to be made on the basis of sound science and research, not politics.
- Scientists agree that the population of prairie dogs is declining rapidly, and is now only 5% of what it was over a century ago.. And scientists agree that prairie dogs are a key species on which so many others are dependent for survival, so that if the prairie dog becomes extinct, many other species will be threatened.