Black-tailed Prairie Dog

During the 1890s, a federal biologist estimated that there were 800 million prairie dogs ranging across 57 million acres of Texas. In the years since, this keystone species has been shot, poisoned, trapped, and relocated, and it has seen a dramatic fall, with repercussions for the many other animals that rely on it.


Narrator: Russell GravesTitle: CollapseDuration: 00:01:45Date: February 1, 2022Russell Graves has worked as a teacher, writer and photographer. With Texas Tech University Press, he published the book, "The Prairie Dog: Sentinel of the Plains", based on years of on-site observation and research. Here he tells the story of the collapse of the prairie dog population, owing to an extermination campaign, as well as the impacts of the Dust Bowl.Narrator: Russell GravesTitle: StudentsDuration: 00:03:46Date: February 1, 2022Russell Graves has worked as a writer (producing the book, "The Prairie Dog: Sentinel of the Plains"), a photographer, and a teacher. Here he tells about the decade that he spent taking students from the Childress high school to study a nearby prairie dog town, and what they learned about the prairie dog and its impacts on soil, groundwater infiltration, and forage, plus its surprising benefits to cattle.Narrator: Mark MitchellTitle: FireDuration: 00:02:14Date: February 21, 2022Mark Mitchell is a wildlife biologist who has served Texas Parks and Wildlife for 20 years as the manager of the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area. He is also a certified prescribed burn boss under the Texas Burn Board, and has conducted over 150 prescribed burns at the Mason Mountain tract. Here he describes the risks that fire suppression, and associated brush encroachment, have posed to prairie dogs and other wildlife over the past 150-200 years.Narrator: Mark MitchellTitle: PlagueDuration: 00:04:18Date: February 21, 2022Mark Mitchell is a wildlife biologist. He manages the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area for Texas Parks and Wildlife, and has been working there to reestablish black-tailed prairie dogs. Here he explains the distant origins and lethal impact of bubonic plague on prairie dog communities.Narrator: Kenneth SeyffertTitle: Cows, Houses, and GroundwaterDuration: 00:02:21Date: October 4, 2002Kenneth Seyffert, a student of Panhandle wildlife, recounts the decline of the prairie dog with competition from livestock raisers and growing cities.Narrator: Lindsey Sterling-KrankTitle: Jumpy-UpDuration: 00:02:32Date: April 28, 2022Lindsey Sterling-Krank is the program director for Prairie Dog Conflict Resolution, and earlier served for some 20 years with the Prairie Dog Coalition, both under the umbrella of the Humane Society of the U.S. In this recording, she talks about the extraordinary communication systems that prairie dogs use to keep them safe from predators and other threats.Narrator: Lynda WatsonTitle: No MistakesDuration: 00:01:44Date: February 4, 2022Lynda Watson has worked for 40 years relocating prairie dogs from places where the rodents are not wanted, to sites where they are welcomed. Here she tells about an encounter with an elderly rancher who explained why he wanted her to rebuild a prairie dog community on his place.Narrator: Lynda WatsonTitle: Endangered Species ActDuration: 00:02:29Date: February 4, 2022Lynda Watson, the owner and operator of P.M.S. Recycled Vermin, based in Lubbock, has caught, quarantined and relocated more than 200,000 prairie dogs over the past 40 years. Here she points out how proposed prairie dog listings under the Endangered Species Act can provoke landowners to kill the prairie dogs, to avoid possible future limits on land use.Narrator: Lynda WatsonTitle: PreyDuration: 00:02:33Date: February 4, 2022Based in Lubbock, Lynda Watson has run P.M.S. Recycled Vermin since the 1980s, relocating over 200,000 prairie dogs from areas where they are not welcome to places where they can be safely hosted. Here she explains that she works to protect prairie dogs so that they can promote the balance of nature by serving as prey to golden eagles, coyotes, badgers and other predators.