Prairie dogs matter. Not only to the short-grass prairie ecosystem of Douglas County but to wildlife lovers as well. So a Prairie Dog Conservation …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
Prairie dogs matter.
Not only to the short-grass prairie ecosystem of Douglas County
but to wildlife lovers as well. So a Prairie Dog Conservation
Policy Committee has been formed by the board of county
Five citizen members of the committee have been appointed, with
the primary goal of developing a conservation policy for the use of
the Douglas County Open Space and Parks Division.
The goal is to recognize the ecological significance of the
black-tailed prairie dog, while addressing the concerns of private
landowners and residents.
“People are concerned about things in their backyard,” said
committee member Mary Taylor Young. As a wildlife author and
biologist, Young will bring a knowledge base to the table, not just
an emotional one.
“Prairie dogs are known as a keystone species to the ecosystem,”
She added that if Coloradans want to have hawks, owls, and the
richness of the experience of the west, they need them to maintain
the fabric of wildlife.
“You don’t have the cool animals without maybe the uncool
animals,” Young said.
She said her approach to this issue is to look at the big
“I look at prairie dogs as part of the whole natural community
of Douglas County,” Young said. “Balanced with human needs, we have
to be careful not to let one of these things dominate.” She
mentioned that there were two land owners who want prairie dogs
dealt with soon.
Another committee member, Judy Enderle, associated with Prairie
Preservation Alliance, would like the public to become aware of the
benefits of prairie dogs to Colorado’s heritage.
“Wildlife viewing is a reason people come to Colorado to live
and play,” Enderle said.
She added that forcing the prairie dogs to live in unsuitable
areas creates conflict and often destroys the landscape.
“Without a prey base, predators like coyotes and foxes will look
to humans for food, creating more conflict,” Enderle said. “Without
prairie dogs, at least nine other obligate species are doomed.”
Barbara Bickham, former president of Carriage Club Homeowners
Association believes her role in the committee is multifaceted.
“I believe it is the goal of everyone on the committee to come
up with methods to correct areas where prairie dog activity has
negatively impacted natural vegetation and balance,” Bickham said.
“In addition to maintaining the natural place prairie dogs have in
The Douglas County Citizens for Wildlife representative, Joanne
Concha, is also a member of this newly formed committee.
The Citizens for Wildlife is made up of Douglas County residents
concerned with saving wildlife. The focus of the group is to save
the black tailed prairie dog.
According to their Web site, the prairie dog burrows irrigate
the soil and the cropping actions stimulate a faster-growing, more
nutritious, diverse assemblage of plants bordering their towns.
The final member of the committee, Cameron Mee, is a rancher
adjacent to open space who owns Castlewood Equestrian Center in
“We will develop a recommended policy for managing prairie dogs,
and will submit it to the board for review,” Mee said. “A policy
needs to be in place to address the situation if the population on
public lands expands to the extent they move on to private
The committee has a deadline to finalize its recommendations to
the board of approximately four months.
Where the dogs live
Cheryl Matthews, director of the county’s open space and natural
resources lists eight locations of prairie dog colonies:
Carriage Club Estates subdivision, including Bluffs Regional
Hidden Mesa Open Space
Hungry Horse Open Space
Cherry Creek Highlands subdivision
Parker North subdivision
Glendale Farm Open Space
Red Mesa Open Space
Douglas Heights Open Space
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.