Valentine’s Day seemed an appropriate day to launch the final installment in a three-eBook entertainment and educational series for preserving a loveable, yet misunderstood Great Plains species: the prairie dog.
The final eBook is entitled, Keystone Prairie Dogs, They’re a Lot Like People, But They Won’t go to Mars.
The Keystone Prairie Dogs project was launched in August 2012 for the purpose of increasing awareness of the prairie dog’s dismal plight through a series of eBooks containing a dual message. First, the series sought to broaden the conversation beyond the scientific and environmental community to a more general audience by the use of prairie dog pictures that spoof social and political commentary. Second, the series was designed to include important scientific contributions on the declining numbers of prairie dogs over decades of time with contributed content by wildlife experts, along with a resource guide and other useful information.
Biologists recognize that prairie dogs are a vital keystone species in the ecosystems they inhabit across the eleven states of their historic range. There are over one hundred other species that survive because they are linked in some fashion to the lynchpin existence of prairie dogs. They include carnivores, reptiles, raptors, insects and native vegetation.
According to the Keystone Prairie Dogs website, prairie dogs have had 98 percent of their original populations decimated across the Great Northern plains from the days of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It began in the mid-1800s, when the US Agriculture Department gave prairie dogs the unfortunate designation of “pests.” From that point on they were poisoned, shot, had their colonies bulldozed for residential development and generally mismanaged by federal wildlife agencies.
Prairie dogs have long been a political hot-button, often pitting special interest groups against wildlife conservationists. But, as awareness has increased on how important prairie dogs are to the plain’s grasslands and wilderness landscape, more effort is being made to protect them and relocate colonies that have encroached onto private land or exist where development is planned.
TV mogul and activist Ted Turner owns the world’s best example of a private wildlife preserve that has almost 600,000 acres dedicated to imperiled species, including black-tailed and Gunnison’s prairie dogs. It is thanks to people like Ted and the decades of work by wildlife conservation groups that over a century of misinformation about prairie dogs is finally being overturned. Ted’s ranch, Vermejo Park, offers amazing wildlife tours where social and playful prairie dogs can be observed in their natural habitat.
The organizations connected to the Keystone Prairie Dogs project are groups that have been very instrumental in preserving them. They include the Prairie Dog Coalition, Prairie Dog Pals, WildEarth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife, National Federation of Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund and Southern Plains Land Trust.
For more information about the Keystone Prairie Dogs project and the three-series of eBooks click on link below: