stories from the road

Prairie Dogs in South Dakota

In South Dakota, Wildlife on September 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Just east of Badlands National Park in Cactus Flats, South Dakota, we stopped at the Ranch Store, a little souvenir joint famous for its large prairie dog town and its even larger — 12-feet-tall and weighing 6-tons! — concrete mascot that towers over the gravel parking lot. For 50 cents, we could have bought a bag of unsalted peanuts to feed the lil’ buggers, but they were so busy with all the peanuts left by other visitors that we just walked around and took pictures of them as they filled their already round bellies with more food. They’re clearly used to having humans around, and we were able to get quite close before they darted into their holes. (You just had to wait a minute or two, and then they’d pop back up again, driven by their endless desire to eat more peanuts, eat more peanuts, eat more peanuts.)

It was brutally hot ,and stepping inside the air-conditioned Ranch Store to buy some cold drinks and postcards brought us blessed relief. Our shirts were sticking to our backs, but we didn’t care. Who doesn’t love the antics of chubby little prairie dogs (plus a speedy little rabbit, to boot)? We saw prairie dogs several other times along our journey through South Dakota — and when we drove back east through North Dakota, too — but we had our closest encounters with the amiable, peanut-lovin’ squirts in Cactus Flats, under the merciless High Plains sun. 

  1. Well heck, we can go across the road and see all the prairie dogs you want, any time! I bet Steve would even lend you his rifle. He’s always trying to get rid of the buggers but Anne owns the land next to his and (as you well remember Anne) she is as much a critter lover as me and she won’t let him kill “her” prairie dogs so they keep coming back to new burrows on his land. So he closes the burrows and they come back and he closes the burrows and….
    Well, he’s retired so I guess he has to do something with his time!
    See you soon!!!

  2. I remember Clayton not appreciating those prairie dog holes, either. Now why did I always think those were gophers and not prairie dogs? Guess I should have been studying up on my Texas Panhandle varmints, eh?

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