|National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
|Bryce Canyon National Park
Use the complete site name here (e.g. Palo Alto Battlefield Historic Site).
|P.O. Box 640201
Bryce Canyon, Utah 84764
Bryce Canyon National ParkNews Release
|Use a “short-hand” version of the site name here (e.g. Palo Alto Battlefield not Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Site).|
For Immediate Release
Sarah Haas 435-834-4753
Bryce Canyon National Park invites participants to help celebrate the
4th annual Utah Prairie Dog Day
June 21, 2013
Bryce Canyon National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh invites you to join the park in our fourth annual celebration of the Utah prairie dog, a native species to Utah and the Bryce Canyon area. Utah Prairie Dog Day is sponsored by the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association and will occur on Friday, June 21, 2013 from 9 a.m. through the evening with planned activities that include watching Utah prairie dogs in their natural habitat with a Park Ranger, special presentations on Utah prairie dogs and educational tables with fun activities for kids and adults alike! The Natural History Association has available Utah Prairie Dog Day t-shirts for $5 that can be hand-colored at the festival. Don’t miss our special guest, “Petey the Prairie Dog” who will be popping up from his burrow throughout the day! All daytime activities will take place at the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center.
The theme of this year’s Utah Prairie Dog Day celebration is “Understanding the Complex World of the Utah Prairie Dog” – Bryce Canyon National Park is highlighting the incredibly fascinating world of a Utah prairie dog colony, from their social system to complex language. Utah prairie dogs are considered “keystone species” that perform a variety of important ecological functions including soil aeration which helps plants grow, providing prey and places to live for other animals, and maintaining meadow ecosystems. This year’s guest speaker, Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, is a specialist in prairie dog communication. Dr. Slobodchikoff, Professor Emeritus from the Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University will be presenting a talk on his exploration into the world of prairie dog communication. Join us for this free presentation at the Bryce Canyon Lodge auditorium at 8:00 p.m.
Park Biologist Sarah Haas states, “This year’s celebration of the Utah prairie dog is aimed at increasing awareness of the complexity of this species. Their ability to communicate specific information to their colony-mates through different sounds and vocalizations demonstrates an intelligence not seen in many rodents.” In addition to their amazing social and language skills, over 200 other species have been associated with prairie dog colonies, including wildlife that either depend upon or directly benefit by prairie dog activity for survival. “Although it can be difficult to appreciate a species that can interfere with human activities and livelihoods, the Utah prairie dog has an important role to play in the environment.”
The park has invited Utah students and adults to participate in a poster contest this year. Artwork depicting Utah prairie dogs was submitted and judged by Bryce Canyon National Park and Natural History Association staff. First place winners from each age group were selected with the grand prize winner’s artwork placed on this year’s Utah Prairie Dog Day official poster – come see it revealed on the day of the festival!
All students (K-12th) and their families can enter the park free on Utah Prairie Dog Day. Just tell the Park Ranger at the entrance gate: “I’m here to see the Utah prairie dogs!” and you’ll be admitted for free!