Lynda Watson [00:00:01] A prairie dog is a very fat, slow rodent. You know, they weigh, oh, on an average, two and a half pounds. And there's a lot of fat in them. They're a good source of food for, for a lot of different animals.
Lynda Watson [00:00:18] And you know, many raptors come south in the fall, and they used to traditionally be able to just follow, and they would, these migration routes tracked the prairie dog towns, which were just about continuous from Canada all the way to Mexico. And now these birds are having to follow a spot here and then a spot there and then a spot there.
Lynda Watson [00:00:48] You know, golden eagles - a huge, huge food source. I did a project for some ranchers down in the Van Horn area, and they're working very closely trying to reintroduce and care for the desert bighorn, and they were having a tremendous problem because the golden eagles were getting the lambs.
Lynda Watson [00:01:12] We reintroduced prairie dog towns and discovered in two years' time, and this is with game cameras and everything else, those eagles would much prefer to hunt the prairie dogs as the lambs.
Lynda Watson [00:01:26] I mean, the whole system is so out of balance because prairie dogs are not where they need to be.
Lynda Watson [00:01:35] You know, coyotes eat them. They're not spectacularly successful. But yes, they catch some.
Lynda Watson [00:01:41] Badgers are just very dependent upon them.
Lynda Watson [00:01:45] There are just so many species that they are a food source.
Lynda Watson [00:01:51] And when we were introduce them onto private lands, you know, that's one of the first things I have to tell landowners: "Look, you are going to see some predators start to come in. And they're going to eat some of these prairie dogs. And that's a wonderfully good thing. That's, that's what we're trying to do here. Don't get excited about this."
Lynda Watson [00:02:14] You know, we need to restore balance and balance is also key: you need a good predator load, you need a good prey load. And, you know, one is not more important than the other.