About Us

Saint Francis with Prairie Dog

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. If we allow them to be paved over, built upon, and starved, they will disappear from our local ecosystem. But rather than dwelling on all that has been lost, we believe it is important to preserve what we still have.

To implement our mission, PNE coordinates a group of dedicated supplemental feeders who visit the landlocked prairie dog colonies within the city limits of Santa Fe once a week to provide them with food. We also work with a certified relocator to facilitate the humane removal of prairie dogs in conflict with construction or otherwise under threat. We maintain liaison with the city Land Use and Parks and Recreation departments to monitor the prairie dogs’ activities. We answer questions from the public and maintain a Facebook page.

Our History and Accomplishments

In 2000, PNE proposed an ordinance, which was passed in 2001*, to ensure the preservation or relocation of Gunnison’s prairie dog colonies on selected properties. That same year, a resolution was passed regarding the planning for the humane management and relocation of Santa Fe’s prairie dogs. It directed 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. Santa Fe is one of only two places within the entire historical range of the Gunnison’s prairie dog where they are officially protected. Although many prairie dogs have been lost as the city grows, PNE members have successfully assisted with the relocation of approximately 2,000 prairie dogs.

* City of Santa Fe Ordinance #2001-35, 2011-37 &11

Saint Francis with Prairie Dog

Our projects include:

  • Removal of prairie dogs from the Rail Runner construction site during the prairie dog breeding season in 2008. PNE participated in negotiations with the Department of Transportation and provided financial support for hiring trappers, buying carriers, providing produce, grain, and hay, renting a care facility, and providing neo-natal care for the infants born in captivity.
  • Capture of a small remnant colony located between Christus St. Vincent north and east parking lots and the northernmost entrance from Hospital Drive into the hospital grounds. Many of the prairie dogs in this small colony had been killed by cars. We are deeply grateful to the hospital facilities manager, who made it possible for these prairie dogs to be included in the larger project.
  • Relocation of a small group of prairie dogs adjacent to the Walgreen Pharmacy at the corner of Zia Road and St. Francis Drive, which remained after the pharmacy was built and had little to no food—necessitating supplemental feeding—for years.
  • Successfully fundraising for the relocation of over 80 prairie dogs from various sites to the Galisteo Basin in late summer of 2014. We are grateful to our generous donors, including the Sierra Club and Los Alamos National Bank.
  • Financing the relocation of a group of prairie dogs in conflict with a residential neighborhood and in danger of being poisoned, as well as another group in conflict with City construction on a vacant lot.
Saint Francis with Prairie Dog

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 then Melinda Ewell. This was the second time the dogs were blessed by the monks, who also visited them in 2006.

Spring 2022 – Frenchy’s Field Sign Installation

If you are visiting Frenchy’s Field Park between March and September you may see, in the field in front of you, some of Santa Fe’s native inhabitants: Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Between October and April you may not see them, but they are still here—quietly hibernating underground!

Year-round, you can see the entrances to their homes: small mounds dotted across the field at the openings of networks of underground tunnels.  Prairie dogs live in large, connected family groups. Their communities are called colonies or towns.

Saint Francis with Prairie Dog