They have many purposes! “Several federal studies indicate that more than 160 species of plants and animals can be found associated with prairie dog colonies. They serve as prey for black-footed ferrets, swift fox, badgers, coyotes, bobcats, and many species of resident and migratory hawks and eagles.
“They also create habitat for black-footed ferrets, burrowing owls, tiger salamanders, mice, voles, and insects. Burrowing also helps aerate the soil which helps to recycle nutrients.
”Foraging on grass and keeping the vegetation short provides better protection from predators. The constant clipping of grass also creates nutrient-rich forage for bison, who are attracted to prairie dog colonies for dirt wallows.“
Below is perhaps Jabba the Hutt of the P Dog world? Seriously, well fed!
“A plague began to appear in the park in 2008 spread by flea bites. Several colonies of PDs have been dusted with an insecticide to kill the fleas. An oral vaccine is also being tried by scattering peanut flavored pellets throughout the prairie dog towns.”