Gone to the (prairie) dogs …

Prairie Dog Town was founded in 1935 by then-Lubbock parks chief K.N. Clapp.

Prairie Dog Town was founded in 1935 by then-Lubbock parks chief K.N. Clapp.

During our recent visit to Lubbock, our family decided to check out Prairie Dog Town, which Katelyn and Tommy have wanted to see for more than a year. The kids hadn’t encountered prairie dogs prior to coming to Amarillo, and they love when we get caught at a certain stoplight next to an open field where prairie dogs pop up to stare at the passing traffic.

Opened in 1935, Prairie Dog Town was the brainchild of K.N. Clapp, then the chairman of the Lubbock Parks Board. Concerned government poisoning efforts would lead to the extinction of the black-tailed prairie dog, Clapp enlisted the help of his friend, Ross Edwards to trap two pair of the diminutive creatures to start a new colony. Clapp was named the honorary mayor of Prairie Dog Town in perpetuity, and oversaw the enclosure until his 1969 death.

Black-tailed prairie dogs scavenge for food left for them by visitors.

Black-tailed prairie dogs scavenge for food left for them by visitors.

Visitors expecting a zoo-like attraction will be disappointed, as Prairie Dog Town is nothing more than a walled off field situated, somewhat ironically, next to a golf course. There’s a sidewalk and parking area at one end, along with a small, covered plaza that juts slightly into the field from which visitors can toss bread, vegetables and other small edibles to sustain the field’s already portly inhabitants.

This sign details the life and habits of the black-tailed prairie dog.

This sign details the life and habits of the black-tailed prairie dog.

We wished we’d brought something to feed the prairie dogs, so a mental note was made for a future visit. While not worth making a two-hour drive, Prairie Dog Town is mere minutes away from our previous stop at the Silent Wings Museum, which we’ll definitely want to visit again.

Parking Smokey and walking up to the plaza, we were greeted by about a dozen or so visitors gazing at about twice that many black-tailed prairie dogs. Katelyn and Tommy were mesmerized watching the creatures scurry about to pick up food tossed to them by what appeared to be local residents.

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Jennifer & Tommy enjoy the prairie dogs.

Things took a serious turn, for the prairie dogs, anyway, when a college student in the plaza began playing a recorded prairie dog call on her cellphone. It was only after the creatures scurried to their burrows that she realized the sound was labeled as a snake warning! The gathered humans found it quite amusing, however, as the prairie dogs formed circles around and on top of their burrows, with one remaining by itself over one mounded entrance to sound the alert. He or she went on for several minutes calling out to the others.

It was a fun bonus to our day, and something the kids won’t soon forget.

 

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