PITTSBURG — Prairie dogs have impact on various animals when their numbers go down.

About 90 percent of the Black-footed Ferret — which is on the Kansas and Federal endangered species list — diet consists of prairie dogs.

When the number of prairie dogs go down, Audubon of Kansas Executive Director Ron Klataske said, it makes it difficult to reintroduce the Black-footed Ferrets back into the prairies.

“Black-footed ferrets are dependant on prairie dogs,” he said. “There are a few places they can exist.”

Their main habitat is in western Kansas.

There is currently a state statute which “allows county officials to force landowners to poison all the prairie dogs,” Klataske said.

This statute was enacted over a century ago when the numbers of the species, among others, were increasing. Now with many species becoming endangered, Klataske said the Audubon Society of Kansas is working with western ranch owners to maintain prairie dog colonies.

He said the prairie dogs are predators’ food, their holes they colonize in become homes for other animals and are used for natural irrigation in the prairie lands.

To learn more about prairie dogs, ferrets and other species Klataske and the Audubon group encourage the community to come to their meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday at room 102 in Pittsburg State University’s Yates Hall. It is free and open to the public.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.