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The ‘Underdogs’ Of The Plains Manage To Survive In Man’s Domain

Photos by Spencer

Every time my wife and I drive down Garfield Street near the air park in Midland or down 42nd Street by UTPB in Odessa, we always try to catch a glimpse of the prairie dogs keeping guard over their respective towns.

Photos by Spencer

These little creature that used to number in the millions when the bison roamed the south and central plains, have managed to make a home where man now resides. These are just two of the more prominent towns around the area mainly because the are within the city limits. Farmers don’t especially like the little critters since they believe they lose livestock because of broken legs from the holes, some people like to hunt them as vermin. But understanding their role in the ecosystem, and learning about their almost human like social behaviors endear them to many.

Photos by Spencer

My attitude changed toward these creatures after watching the documentary Underdog: A Prairie Story.

This evocative film goes right to America’s heart – to the great rolling prairie that once stretched like a green ocean through the Midwest to the eastern Rocky Mountains.
This is a story of redemption and is told through the mighty bison and the pint sized prairie dog. They shape this unique landscape and would be lost without it … one is the great pioneer and the other is the tireless farmer. As Bison roam, they create conditions for their settler brothers to set up their underground towns. The energetic burrowing of prairie dogs enriches the grasslands and allows many other animals and plants to follow.

It’s fun to see them with a new litter of pups, foraging in the brush and wildflowers. I recommend taking an afternoon and just enjoying nature’s variety here in West Texas and its underdogs.

Photos by Spencer

What is your favorite West Texas critter?

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