In Defense of Prairie Dogs

Prairie Dog_6038_filteredA huge new mall is being built about 40 minutes north of where we live. The site was formerly home to one of the largest prairie dog towns in the state of Colorado. In order to start construction, the prairie dogs had to go. The colony was poisoned and hundreds of prairie dogs died.

Public response to this mass execution has varied from demonstrations against the cruelty of a prolonged, painful death, to cheers that one more population of pests has been eliminated from the prairie. Some of my friends participated in the demonstrations. Others planned future shopping excursions.

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Ewww, What’s That?

slime-mold_manitouexperimentalforest-co_lah_1830They’re not exactly beautiful. At first glance, you might guess that your neighbor’s dog has vomited on your lawn, but don’t go knocking on their door quite yet. These flattened slimy or spongy masses are actually living organisms known as slime molds.

Growing up to two feet in diameter, slime molds may be white to yellow, pink or tan. Although they look slimy, they are actually fairly resilient when prodded. Unlike plants, slime molds can travel several feet a day. And despite their name, they are not at all related to molds or other fungi. Rather, they’re considered members of the Protista. If you want more detail than that, let’s just say it’s complicated.

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