THE END OF THE SEASON is always bittersweet for John and the crew. Nearly five months of hard work and few days off are finally coming to an end, but it means we must bid fond farewells to our prairie dog subjects. Every year without fail, the members of the Prairie Dog Squad fall in love with the prairie dogs, and they come out of their field experience with a greater appreciation not only for their study subjects but also for the research John has been doing for over four decades.
This year is just a little different, though. This year, John is packing up all of his equipment for good, and after 45 years he's retiring from the field. For myself, Mariana, writing this post now, I can only be grateful that I met John on his third to last season, and that I had the opportunity to learn what I could from him while I could. His wealth of knowledge has produced answers to questions on prairie dog behavior no other researcher could have answered, and the wildlife community is the better for having had John Hoogland sitting in his observation blind nearly half of every single year since 1974.
John is retiring from the field, but a wildlife researcher never truly retires. Data must still be analyzed, findings published, and outreach done. In the coming months, John will begin work on a book encompassing his work on prairie dogs, so stay tuned!