Progress and Results
Black-tailed prairie dogs pose a management dilemma for land managers because the species is considered an agricultural pest by many farmers and ranchers at the same time it is identified as a keystone species and ecological engineer that benefits many grassland plant and animal species. On Park Service lands, prairie dogs may also degrade cultural resources by digging burrows into cultural remains that the Parks are mandated to protect. This project, which will begin in spring 2008, will address four issues at four parks in the western Great Plains, Fort Larned National Historic Site, Kansas, Bent’s Old Fort, Colorado, Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Colorado, and Scott’s Bluff National Monument, Nebraska: 1. What is the status of prairie dogs on four small prairie culture parks? 2. Are current population assessment methods adequate? 3. What is the extent of prairie dog movement from National Park lands to adjacent farm or ranch lands? 4. What is the extent of prairie dog damage to the parks’ cultural resources?
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