Black Tailed Prairie Dogs

The explorers saw their first prairie dogs in South Dakota in September, 1804. The called them"barking squirrels" and determined to capture one and send it back to President Jefferson, an endeavor that employed all the men for a whole day to carry enough barrels of water from the river to finally flush one from its home. The prairie dogs were a new species they were eager to show the president. To the delight of President Jefferson the little animal arrived healthy after a 4 1/2 month journey to reach Monticello.

Clark wrote about how large the colonies (later called towns) were and how deeply they burrowed intricate networks of tunnels under the prairie. These towns covered areas of a 100 miles populated by millions of prairie dogs. Shot and poisoned to this day few remain and the vast towns of Lewis and Clark's day occupy only one percent of their former sites.