About Us

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We are a group of concerned volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life who are aware of the importance of Gunnison’s prairie dogs to the health of our planet. We share the understanding that its up to us to advocate, feed, relocate and preserve the prairie dogs. If we allow them to be black-topped over, built upon and starved, they will join the list of other flora and fauna which no longer exist on this planet and be gone entirely from our ecosystem. Rather than looking at all that has been lost however, we believe it is important to preserve what we still have.

Our feeders come into our organization with interesting stories of how and why they are working with the prairie dogs. For instance, Craig Dohle moved to Santa Fe from Panama 20 years ago. One day last the fall he realized that his dog had been barking for hours. When he finally brought him in the house, he could hear something chirping. Tracking it down, he discovered a little prairie dog stuck between two fences. So Craig got a broom and pried her loose, then left her alone, thinking she’d go back to her nest. Instead, she managed to get stuck again. She was dragging her foot and he wondered if she was sick, but he had to take the fences apart before he was able to grab the terrified tiny thing with two oven mitts. Eventually he succeeded in getting her into a plastic tote kit and put her in the bathroom but she managed to escape and ran all over the house.

She was too afraid to eat at first, but quickly made up for lost time. Before long, she and Craig’s dog were acting like old friends, even touching noses. Craig says he loves working with the animals and really appreciates the good advice and suggestions he received from Melinda Ewell, Julie Ford and Lynne Hough who says she’ll find his prairie dog a mate or playmate in the spring.

Accomplishments:

Weekly, from late February until mid October, our volunteers take “meals-on-wheels” to twenty-one locations throughout the city where prairie dog have established their colonies.  This means the volunteers pick up the greens and seeds the prairie dogs eat, take the “groceries” somewhere to cut them up and then distribute them into the burrowing holes. The prairie dogs watch from their holes, sometimes chattering excitedly while this is happening. Our volunteers have an authentic opportunity to help and the thrilling experience of interacting with another species in the “wild.”

In 2000, PNE proposed an ordinance to effect the preservation or relocation of Gunnison’s Prairie Dog colonies on selected property. It was passed in 2001. That same year, a resolution was passed regarding the planning for the humane management and relocation of Santa Fe’s prairie dogs. It directed the city staff to initiate code amendments and procedures for the preservation or humane relocation of Gunnison’s prairie dogs within the city of Santa Fe. Although many, many prairie dogs have been lost as the city grows, PNE members have successfully saved/relocated approximately 2,000 prairie dogs.

In August of 2008, the prairie dogs who reside at Frenchy’s Field Park on Agua Fria Street received a rare visit from 11 Tibetan Buddhist monks dressed in their flowing red and orange robes. The monks, from the Drepang Loseling Monastery in Karnataka, India, made this stop during their 18-month American tour at the request of PNE’s president Melinda Ewell.  This was actually the second time the dogs were so blessed by the monks who had also visited them in 2006.  At that time the dogs responded by coming to the surface, moving closer to the praying monks and joining into the chanting and prayers.


In 2008, however, the prairie dogs were silent, well aware that a predator was flying overhead and the waist high colorful wildflowers made it impossible for them to reconnoiter. The plight of the endangered prairie dogs is familiar to the monks who were in America on The Mystical Arts of Tibet tour to benefit their monastery which houses some 3,000 refugee monks, many of whom have just recently emigrated from Tibet.

In 2014, over 80 prairie dogs were relocated to the Galisteo Basin Preserve, which had received much-needed rains and is lush with green grasses and wildflowers prairie dogs love to eat.