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Busy Town

Willow Sedam

Busy Town seeks to highlight the role prairie dogs play in the circle of prairie life. Bison and pronghorn, two iconic species of the American west who were nearly wiped out by human incursion, are attracted to the landscapes that prairie dogs create. Coyotes and badgers both rely on prairie dogs as a food source, and have been seen to cooperatively hunt these burrowing rodents. Eagles and other birds of prey also predate upon prairie dogs, while a myriad of insect and arachnid species, as well as snakes, burrowing owls, and other ground squirrel species make homes out of abandoned prairie dog tunnels. Black-footed ferrets, the rarest mammal in North America, rely entirely on prairie dogs for both food and housing, 95% of these ferret’s diets in the wild consist of prairie dogs, and they utilize empty prairie dog burrows as dens in which to raise their young and hide from predators.

While prairie dogs are an extremely important part of prairie ecosystems, their populations are declining and they inhabit a small portion of their historic range. As these animals are poisoned, shot, and moved out of the way for housing developments and agricultural expansion, it is easy to forget that these often overlooked rodents create space for some of the most beautiful and iconic species in the front range and the American west as a whole.

Willow Sedam is a multimedia artist with a love for nature and a background in environmental education. She is inspired by the natural world, and seeks to illuminate it with her work, exploring the complex interconnectivities of ecosystems and natural history through art.