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Life of an Oklahoma black-tailed prairie dog

Helping the ecology of Oklahoma's range lands

The black-tailed prairie dog is considered a rare species of special concern in Oklahoma and many other states and has been declared extinct in Arizona. The Oklahoma State University Extension Service says that in Oklahoma, there are an estimated 60,000 acres of grasslands occupied by prairie dogs which represents a small percentage of the historical acreage of this species.

The herbivory, burrowing, and mound building activities of prairie dogs create conditions which support more than 200 animal species as well as a diversity of plants and insects. The prairie dog is therefore known as a keystone species which means it is a vital part of the native range land.

Continuous soil disturbance and herbivory strongly influence the plant community as well. Without the prairie dog, these distinct plant communities would be lost. Prairie dogs are an important component of healthy, native range lands in Oklahoma.