Before the arrival of European farmers and settlers, the North American prairie was a vast grassland covered with herds of grazing animals such as elk, deer, rabbit and buffalo. These animals increased the growth of the prairie by adding nitrogen to the soil through their urine and feces. The black-tailed prairie dogs dug huge underground tunnel systems that aerated the deep roots of the prairie grasses and allowed rain water to reach several feet below the surface.
Today many states are trying to recover and preserve what remains of the natural prairie of North America. The black-tailed prairie dog is a key part of those preservation programs for they are a key component of a healthy prairie environment, as well as being quite cute little critters.
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