Keystone Prairie Dogs (KPD) is a fledgling conservation project started in February 2012, which aims to broaden the conversation about prairie dogs and help change their negative image created during a century of maligning by the USDA, ranchers and special interest groups.
KPD utilizes creative marketing strategies to highlight how important prairie dogs are to the ecosystems of short grass habitats and the Great Plains. They use a humorous video of two young prairie dogs rescued from a development site as they tussle with each other over a garment bag chew-toy. It is entitled, “Keystone prairie dogs duke it out to Chopin”. The idea is to show how personable, playful and entertaining prairie dogs can be, with the hope of encouraging more wildlife tourism opportunities and fewer shooting contests.
Prairie dogs are not only playful, but they also use a highly specialized language and communication system that experts have compared to dolphins.
KPD has a selection of eBooks filled with satirical depictions that make fun of politics and uses campy memes on societal situations. They also include scientific information and resource guides on where prairie dogs can be seen in the wild. Customized gifts and cards with fun prairie dog pictures can be found at the KPD gift store.
Furthermore, KPD and other prairie dog conservationists have been successful in getting National Wildlife Federation to reinstate prairie dogs in their “adopt” an animal series. When a person makes a nominal donation to help prairie dogs under the NWF project, they receive a cute stuffed prairie dog toy.
The KPD project also seeks to highlight the difficult work environmental groups do to protect prairie dogs across their fragmented range, including Prairie Dog Coalition, WildEarth Guardians, Prairie Dog Pals and many more. They negotiate with ranchers, municipalities and private landowners to provide non-lethal methods like relocation options for unwanted prairie dogs.