WE'VE BEEN BUSY as bees trapping and marking all the new offspring of the year. We continue to take behavioral data, but our days are consumed with trying to catch every single juvenile. Depending on her level of protectiveness, we will usually try to catch the mother in the early morning and put her away in the shade before we set surroundings for her babies. Some mothers will become agitated when they see a surrounding around their nursery burrow, and to avoid causing her to transfer her babies to another burrow, we keep her out of sight to minimize her stress.
Sometimes we wish we could only just talk to these prairie dogs. "Go on in the trap now, the sooner you get caught the sooner we can pull these traps entirely!" But alas, they are wild animals and do not always cooperate with research. Nonetheless, the squad is having the time of their lives watching the little juveniles popping in and out of their burrows, rolling around in play, and standing tall to look around. The long hours in our observation towers are less arduous when our study subjects are so adorable. Whether it's your first season in the field or your 44th, the novelty never wears off.