Friday, May 18, 2012

Prairie Dog Town in Lubbock, TX

Last week we arrived at our new home in Lubbock, Texas. Taking a break from the work of moving in, a few days ago we visited one of the local landmarks, the Prairie Dog Town.

One of the residents

Lubbock's Prairie Dog Town is a large enclosure located in Mackenzie Park, that is the home to hundreds of black-tailed prairie dogs. It was established in the early 1930s by Kennedy N Clapp, a prominent Lubbock resident who was concerned that a government-run poisoning program would drive the black-tailed prairie dog to extinction. As explained on the sign pictured below, Clapp and a friend trapped two pairs of the prairie dogs as the original residents of the town. Mr. Clapp oversaw the operation of the refuge until he died.

In addition to prairie dogs, numerous other animals either live in or frequent the Prairie Dog Town. This is just as true in the wild, where prairie dogs are a "keystone" species whose presence is vital to the plains and prairie ecosystem. The prairie dog's presence is important to many other species, such as the black-footed ferret, which feeds almost exclusively on prairie dogs, and the burrowing owl, which uses abandoned prairie dog burrows for shelter. Burrowing owls are common in the Lubbock area, seen anywhere that prairie dogs are found.

During our visit we saw this 13-lined ground squirrel going about its business....

and this great-tailed grackle surveying the scene from the top of a shelter...

and, of course, many black-tailed prairie dogs!


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