Once hunted to extinction, black-tailed prairie dogs were reintroduced into Caprock Canyons State Park in 2012. They now occupy three towns in the park, the largest being adjacent to the campground we used during our visit last November. The park road along the campground actually runs right through the middle of that town
Just like many birds I’ve encountered in the wilderness, these little animals seem much more tolerant of photographers who stay inside their vehicles. To photograph each subject, I drove slowly along the road and stopped near its mound. Subsequently, some would disappear into the tunnels beneath their mounds, but others would stay outside so I could attempt to photograph them.
On the other hand, the prairie dog below thought it better to lie prone inside the mound.
Canon EOS 7D (600mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO500)
Some of them, of course, fled the area when I arrived. Like so many other mammals, they lift their tail high when in flight.
Canon EOS 7D (200mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO500)
If I was far enough from their mounds, some of the little rodents felt they could continue with what they were doing. Most seemed to be having a late breakfast.
Canon EOS 7D (600mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO640)
I was never able to get close enough to obtain a true head shot of any of the prairie dogs. However, some of my closer shots were at least sharp enough to crop into a simulated head shot like the one below. This individual certainly was keeping its eye on me.
Canon EOS 7D (309mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO500)
More information about the reintroduction of black-tailed prairie dogs into Caprock Canyons State Park can be found in the article “New Residents Arrive at Caprock Canyons State Park.”
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