I took the family down to Denver a while back, and the prairie dogs were out in force. It looked in some places like the little varmints were preparing to launch a major offensive against the city. Yet the people down there just tootle down the roads, yakking on their cell phones and slurping their lattes, and they don’t pay the slightest mind to all the whistle-pigs that have them outnumbered at least 10 to 1.
It’s absolutely astounding. Every patch of dirt down there is covered with prairie dog mounds. There’s an old abandoned church near my buddy Tom’s house, and the dogs have actually moved into the churchyard. And they have absolutely no fear of humans, dogs, or other animals. We watched a hawk that had already obviously eaten its fill of prairie dogs swoop down and snuff out another one, but it was so fat from its earlier meals, and the critter it had just nailed was so big, the bird couldn’t get off the ground. It dragged the prairie dog a few yards, then it just sat there on the ground and pecked at its latest kill.
You don’t find prairie dogs like this in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Our prairie dogs are a lot smarter than their Colorado cousins. When they see a human, or a coyote, or a large bird, they duck down into their holes. They don’t come out until one of ‘em has snuck up to the surface, peeked around, then given the all-clear whistle. I don’t know how they pick who has to do that, but it’s probably based on some form of rock-paper-scissors.
As a guy who owns a new .223, I couldn’t help but gaze longingly at those small chunks of dirt laced with prairie dog holes down in Denver. I know there’s no way to safely snipe ‘em in that urban jungle, at least not with a high-powered rifle. But maybe they’d let you hunt ‘em with an air gun. Then again, they’d probably consider it inhumane. They’d rather just pave over all the prairie dog habitat instead.