There’s a lot that Ted Turner taught me during the decade we were married and during the more than a decade that we’ve been unmarried but close friends. But one of my most favorite things I learned from him was to love prairie dogs. Please don’t stop reading now that you know I’m writing about prairie dogs and not some tasty gossip about my favorite ex-husband. Please don’t. Please stay with me, even if you’re a cattle rancher or a rancher’s wife or someone who loves to find things for target practice.

While we were married, we spent much time in the Great Plains–in New Mexico, South Dakota and the Sand Hills of Nebraska. Especially in New Mexico, I would spend hours watching the way prairie dogs behave, how they pop up out of their underground dens and stand on the mounds in what looks like the start of a Sun Salutation. Sometimes, their little paws press together as if in prayer.

I loved watching the young ones play and how they flattened themselves out in the dust when they were hot. At least that’s how I interpreted it. Maybe they were just tired.

I discovered that prairie love to kiss. It starts when they’re very young and continues, maybe as a way of getting to know dogs from another den or maybe just a way of acknowledging love.

From Ted, I learned that these fascinating little creatures are what’s known as a ‘keystone species,’ a linchpin of prairie ecology. Eradicate them and you create a domino effect, imperiling a host of other species that depend on them. At the time Louis and Clark made their famous expedition through the West it is estimated that there were five billion prairie dogs living across one hundred million acres. Today there are fewer than 5% of their original number.

From Ted I learned that the black-footed ferret was extinct in the wild because their only food was the prairie dog and as the prairie dog numbers declined dramatically, these ferrets disappeared. A few were being kept in zoos and Ted wanted to restore them to their natural Great Plains habitat as he is doing this with many native species on his 2 million acres–from bison, wolves and Desert Big Horn Sheep to snakes, bees, woodpeckers and plants. To understand the scope of Ted’s conservation undertakings–what’s known as “re-wilding,” I urge you to read “Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Plane,” by Todd Wilkinson. It is powerful and, for me anyway, very moving to learn how this brilliant, maverick media mogul is creating a template for other landowners (and they don’t have to be of the super wealthy variety although when these latter follow Ted’s lead, it’s possible that a tipping point of conservation may be achieved. What Ted shows is that environmentalism and prosperity can coexist. )

Recently, a house guest at my New Mexico ranch gave me a book by Terry Tempest Williams called “Finding Beauty In A Broken World.” It is a beautiful, profound book and, wonder of wonders, she devotes many chapters to prairie dogs. Williams says “More than 200 species of wildlife have been associated with prairie dog towns, with over 140 species benefitting directly. . . .Nine vertebrate species may drop in population or disappear completely if prairie dogs are eliminated from the grassland ecosystem.”

Yet many people in the West consider prairie dogs heinous vermin, varmints that they are committed to eradicating by poisoning their dens with cyanide, strychnine, or fumigation. There are actual organizations devoted to this such as the Red Mist Society (when shot, the prairie dog’s bodies explode in a bloody, red mist), The Varmint Hunters Assoc., among many others. There are guys who think it’s fun to round up some buddies, a chest of cold beer, and spend a weekend afternoon competing for who can kill the most prairie dogs.

The reason behind this desire to exterminate these native ground squirrels is that for many generations, they’ve been considered competitors with grazing cattle. There is, I believe, some truth to this. If ranchers don’t rotate their cattle so they aren’t constantly eating the same pastures, they and the prairie dogs will eat the grasses down to nothing. If, however, cattle are managed the way Ted manages his herds of bison and other ranchers manage their cattle, then the co-existence of prairie dogs and livestock can be of mutual benefit. If this were not the case, the two species could never have evolved together for millions of years, working jointly to make the vast western plains as bountiful as they were.

Both bison, themselves a keystone species, and prairie dogs originated during the Pleistocene era and evolved together over 2 million years. Bison keep the grass cropped low, thereby allowing the prairie dogs to see predators approaching as they stand in prayer pose on their mounds. And the way prairie dogs prune the prairie grasslands creates very nutritious grass for bison or cattle. If one pays attention, you can see that, especially at spring green-up time, livestock even prefer these pruned grasses. Also, the prairie dog’s underground dens trap water, and help aerate the soil.

In the ’90s while I was with him, Ted created the Turner Endangered Species Fund and on several of his ranches he has allowed enormous prairie dog colonies to develop. On his Vermejo Park Ranch in northern New Mexico, in addition to a vast prairie dog colony, he has established a black-footed ferret captive breeding facility. As adults, some of the ferrets are moved to other locations where there are sufficient prairie dogs to sustain them and a carefully monitored number of them are allowed to run wild on the Vermejo. Very few people can claim to have been responsible for the restoration of a species and NEVER has it been someone whose life was spent, not as a biologist, but winning sailing championships and changing the landscape of the media.

When the sun is just right, it is an awesome experience known to all too few of us, to sit very quietly just at the edge of Vermejo Park’s prairie dog town where there are now 120,000 of the animals on 8,000 acres and see them standing on their mounds, saluting the sun, as far as the eye can see. I know. I’ve done it.

I want to quote from Terry Tempest William’s “Finding Beauty In A Broken World.” This is an excerpt from a letter the author received from biologist Constantine Slobodchikoff who spent 20 years researching communication patterns among prairie dogs and proved that they have the most sophisticated animal language decoded so far:

“One of my PhD students did a comparative study of the alarm calls of all five species of prairie dogs, calling for her when she was wearing either a yellow shirt or a green one. All five species had distinctly different calls for the two colors of shirts. Also, each species had different vocalizations for each color, suggesting that each species has its own language, but the languages differ from one another, much as German, French, and English differ.

“We just finished a study of black-tailed prairie dogs, showing that they had the same kind of descriptive elements in their alarm calls as the Gunnison’s, describing the color of the clothes and the size and shape of different humans. We also slowed that they could remember when someone shot a gun, and could incorporate this information into their alarm calls, calling in a way that was distinctly different from the alarm calls they gave to the same person prior to his shooting the gun. So my guess is that each species has a very sophisticated language, and has the cognitive capacity to detect subtle differences among predators and incorporate information about these differences into the alarm calls.

“I am hoping that this work will help show that prairie dogs, and all animals, are not just mindless robots that can be disposed of as vermin or property but as sentient beings that should be treated with empathy and respect.” I hope so too. That’s why I’ve quoted this here.

When I first started spending part of my life near Santa Fe, there was a nice size prairie dog colony along the railroad tracks parallel to Cerrillos Rd. near St. Francis. Now, development has eliminated the colony. The last time I was there, I noticed one lone prairie dog mound on the other side of the road sandwiched into a tiny triangle of dirt in between a some chain link fence. I cannot rid myself of sadness ever since. I can’t stop thinking about that little family. I pray that they survive.

I think all the time of how interdependent life is . . . all of life. We homo sapiens are no different, yet we are doing what even the sorriest of dogs don’t do unless they’re sick: we’re soiling and destroying our own kennel–Earth.

I want to close this blog with another quote dealing with interdependence. It’s from “The Faraway Nearby” by Rebecca Solnit:

“Some species of yucca plan and of moth depend upon each other. The white moths hatch out of their cocoons as the white flowers open. They mate and the female pollinates the flowers while laying her eggs in them, so that they will produce the fruit on which her offspring will feed. The yucca survives only by the pollination efforts of this moth, the larvae survive only by consuming this particular fruit. They would not exist without each other, and the yuccas of these species grown elsewhere have to be hand-pollinated.”

We cannot, as a species, risk losing more species. Let’s think about this ad do all we can, individually and collectively.

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  1. I love your blog posts. Keep them up. You’re so amazing.

  2. This is my favorite “blog” so far!!! I think you are amazing; and now, think Ted Turner is amazing, too. I don’t follow “celebrities” much, and so I have little knowledge of most of them. These days, I haven’t even heard of most of them. I love love love you, Jane Fonda. I think you are amazing! This made my whole self smile….

    • I dont know many of the “celebrities” today either. I watch Wheel of fortune when Entertainment Tonight is on. I dont recognize most. I am a PBS fanatic as well as History Channel fan.

      I just found these blogs Ms. Fonda has provided and am intrigued by them all.

      I am a wildlife artist and spend a lot of my time with my nose in my drafting table.

      My favorite movie is probably Grapes of Wrath with Henry Fonda and Save the Tiger with Jack Lemon. Sure miss all those great movies. But The Butler and Lincoln were terrific.


  3. I never knew how wonderful prairie dogs are or how essential they are to the ecosystem until I read this. One of the downsides to being a city slicker who never ventures into your neck of the woods. Thanks for the education and I very much hope you and Ted succeed in helping their populations recover. What an amazing and important animal.

  4. Jane, Thank you for posting this. Please keep speaking up about this! I did not know this much about prairie dogs, so it’s great to learn about them — your pictures are fabulous. My heart breaks when I think of how we treat animals — the coyote and bear hunts here in New Mexico disturb me so deeply in the same way you speak about the prairie dogs. I appreciate Ted’s efforts, thanks for telling us all he is doing. I have driven past his ranch and it is wonderful to see the buffalo here in New Mexico. Keep up the conservation work!

  5. Here’s a link that may interest you Jane: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1349372/Prairie-dogs-language-humans-look-like.html it about a modern day Dr. “Doolittle” who’s been studying Prairie Dog Languages… the possible uses gained from this research are immense. Potential Inter-Species language communication perhaps?

  6. (And this is for you) I’m sure you don’t get to Orlando Florida much, if ever. If you ever do, I would love to meet you. And, again, I’m sure you have a million want-to-meet-you(s). You just have always seemed like a big part of my life. <3

  7. Funny I’m reading the chapter about Ted in your book right now. One of my favorite chapters.

  8. Dear Ms. Fonda — Please help us stop wildlife killing contests. I live in Los Lunas, NM the same town getting all the publicity for killing contests. A local gun shop in my town has proudly sponsored two killing contests so far: one for prairie dogs and another for coyotes. They are planning another contest in December. We are doing all we can to stop these contests and to get our public lands to ban the contestants from using our public lands as a shooting range for this hideous bloodsport. In all of New Mexico, there have been at least 16 coyote killing contests and who knows how many other killing contests. Many animals are targeted for nothing more than bloodlust entertainment.

    We would love it if a rancher like Mr. Turner would publicly say he opposes these contests. The promoters of these contests say they hold these contests to help the ranchers. We believe most ranchers abhor these contests. Know too that we volunteer to rescue and relocate prairie dogs. Also we live in coyote habitat and have never had a problem with either prairie dogs or coyotes. To get in touch with us, please go to our FB page “Stop Coyote Killing Contests New Mexico”. Also, know that we have been to the Vermejo Park Ranch on a few occasions and marvel at its beauty. Thank you for all you are doing!

  9. Excellent entry, Ms Fonda.

    I live on an organic farm here in Saskatchewan, and when we had an “epidemic” of gophers (similar to prairie dogs if only related) a few years back, the natural cycle was left to do its own thing: the following year, there were more badgers than you could shake a stick at, and coyotes too, because they had a glut of gophers to eat.

    When a bounty on coyotes was put out in response (locally, but our farm didn’t hunt them in spite of their cruel takedowns of some small calves as well as our barn cat population) and the coyote numbers were thinned as a result, the next year there was such an exploded population of wild deer that they became a huge problem for drivers and then were starving the following winter because there wasn’t enough food for them all.

    Best not to tinker too much with Nature’s cycles, methinks.

    Thanks for the headsup on Mr Turner’s activities, and for the fabulous photos of prairie dogs doing what they do best.

  10. Ms. Fonda, after reading this, I have to share my experience.
    I saw a prairie dog for the first time in my life (in Houston, TX) a couple of months ago and I’ll NEVER forget it.
    In June, my dog experienced temporary insanity after seeing a prairie dog in the backyard. Winston (my dog) was jumping like a rabbit and hissing like a snake in between barks. I was thinking OH MY GOD, my dog’s about to die! I was sure he was having a horrible allergic reaction to something. Nope. It was just his prairie dog sighting reaction.
    I didn’t know about the prairie dog until my 6 year old daughter yelled “MOMMA! THERE’S A RABBIT WITH A SQUIRREL HEAD OUTSIDE!”
    I looked out the window and saw the prairie dog just standing there in the grass. I went outside to get a closer look. Guest Prairie Dog stood still, looking cute. I went back inside and closed the patio door. Right after I came in, Guest Prairie came right up to the patio door and looked in! Winston couldn’t take it. He starting barking and running in circles. Guest Prairie ignored Winston and stood there calmly looking in at us through the glass window of the patio door.
    My 8 year old daughter came downstairs to see what was going on. She saw the prairie dog and turned around and ran right back upstairs without saying a word! She scares easily so her flight reaction wasn’t surprising to me.
    After staring inside for about 10 minutes, Guest Prairie left. Went right under the gate and out of the yard.
    Winston still isn’t the same. 😉
    Thank you, Ms. Fonda for blogging about these fascinating creatures.

  11. It’s all very well and good to have such humane feelings about these creatures. However, should they decide to invade your own yard, I think you would eventually see it much differently. And if they set up a village on your empty lot that you’d like to sell? Again, you’d see it differently. If they didn’t have the word ‘dog’ in their name, you’d perhaps not feel so warm and fuzzy about them. They are adorable. And they used to live on the open ranges — as did the buffalo. I get that. Times have changed…they have not. So good luck if they invade your property!! I have a feeling you will be singing a completely different tune.

    • Lynn, I understand where you’re coming from, believe me. But we, as another species of animals on this planet, have to learn to share and make room. Otherwise we’ll all go down. I am actually considering finding out if I can move the one lone prairie dog mound i mention towards the end of the blog, to my ranch. Look, I’ve killed my own share of gophers in my time when they were running amok in my flower garden. But I’ve learned better. Not that I’d allow them to eat my flowers, but I would move them elsewhere or go to the Humane Society for help…or something. And my feelings about prairie dogs isn’t a all because “dog” is part of their name. It’s because they are a Keystone species and we cannot, we must not, allow such things to be wiped out. I like to think of life as a sweater…you start to pull one hanging bit of yarn and before you know it, you’re unraveling the entire sweater. We humans are in the process of unraveling the very ecosystem on which our lives depend. Ted has a bumper sticker on all his cards that reads: SAVE THE HUMANS. That’s, essentially, what I’m talking about.

  12. Great article. I hope a lot of people read it because we can be a very short-sighted culture. I also have admired the prairie dogs when I somewhere their colonies exist. I wish more people thought about the small things. I think that every time I get to my Tucson house, see more of the desert disappearing into housing and wonder where the little creatures go. We try with our Oregon farm to be aware of the need for balance in nature.

  13. Really enjoyed this entry in your blog. How absolutely adorable these creatures are. It is laudable when people who have earned and accumulated tremendous wealth do meaningful, lasting globally beneficial things with it, such as conservation. All while reading, I couldn’t help but think of the final lyric to Jonathan Larson’s song “Santa Fe” from the brilliant musical “Rent”.

    “Do you know the way to Santa Fe?
    You know, Tumbleweeds, prairie dogs, yeah”

  14. Dear Jane

    Iam new to your webpage, I just loved the wonderful pictures of the cute prairie dogs oh my golly how adorable they are. well I
    am a hugh lover of wild life and cute animals. if I could afford to I would open up my own wild life animal place for people to come and enjoy the beauty that god placed here for us to enjoy. Thank you for the wonderful pictures for sharing them. love and peace. Regina

  15. Well, Jane, Ted may have not showed up for you…but good he showed up for the prairie dogs! I loved this post. Thanks for putting it on your blog.

    • In his way Ted did show up for me. In many ways. He changed my life and helped me heal from old wounds and taught me to laugh. Glad you liked the blog, though

  16. Fascinating creatures! Thank you for sharing this information. What a great animal for my students to do a research paper on! They would love it!

  17. Have you been to Karelia before, Jane? I grew up there in a village by Lake Onega, I see your love of nature, you might like it 🙂

  18. Of course, and after I hit send…I realized that I must have sounded harsh. It’s sometimes hard to be succinct and convey a thought. Relationships are complicated.
    On a different note, I have been doing your meditation DVD and for the first few months, when you asked, ” how do feel, how do you feel inside?” I’d think…I feel disciplined! Ha… I didn’t know the difference between feelings and thinking. Now, I look out the window and see the trees and sky, and feel connected to nature…part of something bigger. Thanks for that-:)


    • Whoa, Bonnie, does this make me happy—for you!!

      • where can I get your meditation dvd?, I want to learn to meditate and you will be my best teacher.

        • Help me remember to answer your question, Candita. xx

  19. Jane that was fascinating. I have no experience of them as I live in northern Europe.
    And your analogy of life as a sweater is brilliant. It will stay with me forever.

  20. YOU are amazing. I started out my professional life admiring your work, yet not agreeing with your philosophy. Well, what can I say…I grew, I experienced life, I believed the dogma at first, I conformed. I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. I served my country proudly until I realized my awareness and core values no longer coincided with my profession. I chose to teach as a second career. I chose to help make young adults aware of their individuality and reasons for doing (and believing) why they do what they do…I FULLY support most ANY belief, but ONLY if the individual has questioned ‘why’ they believe it, and consequently accepted it. Dogma has no place in my life. I teach here in Santa Fe, NM, and just want to say “THANK YOU” for being such an inspirational person in my life. I have had the honor of former students coming back to me to tell me that “I” made a difference (a humbling experience). I would like to take the opportunity to say that I wish I had ‘formerly’ thanked YOU sooner. Thank you for being you.

  21. Hello Jane. This is kinda of the topic but this is the only place where I can contact you, so here it goes.
    I’ve read your memoir and I know that you’ve had eating disorders and low self esteem. Well, I have that now. I’m about the same age you were when you became bulimic.
    This is such a hard time in my life and I feel like I’m slowly dying inside. I can’t eat anything, as much as I want to. It’s not that I’ve been bulimic for a long time- actually, I’ve only thrown up a couple of times, but now I’m so depressed, everything in my life is changing, so the eating disorders are kicking in.
    This might seem silly to you but I just want your advice. How can I make myself happier at this hard time? How do I start loving who I am? I just feel so worthless.


      • Oh wow, did Jane Fonda just ask me that? Well, I hope it really is you. I forgot to add that you are my hero, you’re the only person I look up to in so many ways. I really truly love you.
        Well, everything is changing around me and it’s happening too fast. I moved to a new place because I need to study in this town and I am now living in a place that I don’t really like. I have always been a depressed person more or less but now it feels like it’s worse than ever. I can’t eat, I can’t really sleep, I’m overworking myself and I get sick. I haven’t had lunch for 4 days now, just breakfast and some snacks.
        I know you probably don’t care and you have bigger problems… But I would just like your advice, because I value your opinion and I really want to be happy and less depressed. I want to be a normal person, I want to love myself and have a nice life but it seems like that’s just impossible.

        P.S. I’m thinking about writing you a handwritten letter, maybe I’ll do that.

        • If you write, send it to me c/o Fonda Inc, 1718 Peachtree St. NW, #465, Atlanta, GA 30309

          I would recommend getting a prescription for Prozac. I’m not, by nature, in favor of resorting to pharmaceuticals, but, having been bulimic and coming from depressed parents (and having that tendency earlier in life), I found that during times of change and difficulty such as you describe, A serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SRI) like Prosac can really help get you through the rough patches. Very often, but not always, eating disorders can come with anxiety.

          • I will write to you!
            Thank you, you’re such a wonderful human being. I wish you the best.

        • Marlene:

          Perhaps better late than never.

          Having walked in your shoes during my long healing journey I haven’t been able to quite let go of the ‘soul-twin’ connection experienced when I read your posting.

          If you are not studying at a college where you have access to medical or mental health facilities, no other medical insurance and little or no money, here is a link re the effectiveness of an OTC (SAM-e) which worked for me until I could get myself better ’emotionally-balanced.’

          Mid-way through my recuperative process, a respected therapist’s response to my own lament of how I wanted to be/feel: ‘NORMAL’ is a setting on a clothes dryer!’

          Lastly…and most importantly….stand up straighter, girl….just by ‘giving in’ and reaching out, you are WAY-Y-Y-Y-Y more worthy than you give yourself credit for being.

          ‘May the best sunrise of your life be the one you wake up to every morning,’


  22. Marlene, you are doing the most important thing – reaching out for help. Talk, talk, talk and talk some more to a trusted friend, family member, or mentor. Ask them for help. Those who care about you won’t mind and will find the time to listen.
    If you don’t have any friends or family in the new town you’re now living in, pick up your phone. Call someone who will listen. Also, as you see, the Internet connects you with others.
    Continue reaching out for help from others while you’re depressed.
    As Ms. Fonda stated, seek professional help as you may need an antidepressant. There are many different antidepressants. SSRI’s are most commonly prescribed and often work well, however, it may take a while to find the one that works best for you.
    Good for you for reaching out!

  23. I thought of your blog today when I was in a pet store that was selling prairie dogs. I didn’t know pet stores could sell prairie dogs! Seems like there would be a federal ban or law against it.
    It was such a sad sight. There were ten prairie dogs all crowded together in a plastic container about 3 feet long. They had no room to move around! The store is selling them for $120 each! I took a picture of them all on top of each other. It was heartbreaking. (I’ve never seen a prairie dog in my life until one briefly visited my backyard a couple of months ago.) If I had the means, I would’ve bought all ten of them to get them out of there!
    Anyway, I’m not buying anything from that pet store ever again! They won’t get my business ever again. The owner ought to be ashamed of himself!
    Oh well, I’m finished ranting.
    Hope you’re healing well from your surgery.
    PS- My husband (who doesn’t like you) actually admitted that he got chills from your performance at the end of The Newsroom. HA!

    • Thanks for telling me about the pet store. Awful. I am healing. I have to laugh cause I feel like a kid but my joints are really old. Maybe, in time, I can have everything replaced, like a jalopy. Then I’ll really be bionic. so far I’ve done my hips, knee, lower back and thumb. What’s next?

  24. Hi Jane. I once thought you were the greatest way back in the early 60s and believed in a lot of what you stood for but gee you’ve been one that attracts controversy by doing some stupid things!
    In your youth I guess one could assume you were naïve but to be still making those silly moves indicates to me you are a pretty average person.
    You might already identify what I’m on about but if you are in any doubt let me explain.
    I served in Vietnam in 1968 with the Australian Army, proud to have been assistance [if we were] to the South Vietnamese people in there quest to remain non communists.
    For you to be pro Nth Vietnam through that period leaves me quite flabbergasted, totally disgusted in fact. I understand the war became unpopular as time went by but for you to elect to visit Hanoi, slander your own soldiers and country, wear that tee shirt with uncle Ho on the front and befriend the North…………. I can’t imagine what you were thinking?!
    NOW YOU’RE WEARING THE BLOODY THING AGAIN! What is the matter with you Jane, please explain. I’m 65, been around a bit but I’m buggered if I can understand what you’re about. I hope like hell the movie you’re promoting now fails miserably, it’s certainly not one I will be advising friends to see in fact just the opposite, I will be letting them know how I still think you have and still are, betraying your country and people.
    A response would be great but I doubt you personally would reply.

    • Peter. Thanks for writing. #1, I never slandered our soldiers. Why would I have produced (even conceived of) the film “Coming Home” which was based on things I learned from soldiers and vets myself, visiting VA hospitals, interviewing vets, if I felt slandering soldiers was ok or justified? #2 I’ve never worn a shirt with “Uncle Ho” on it. NEVER. I have worn my mug shot t-shirt from when I was falsely arrested for drugs which proved to be vitamins…this arrest was during the Nixon administration

  25. Thank you, I’ve learned something new today. If we only open our eyes, there is so much beauty around us, even the prairie dogs displays it – Wow!

  26. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and informative post. I’ve never looked at prairie dogs that way 🙂 We call them gophers here in Alberta. I laughed at the picture of the one flattened out on the sand. We have rabbits everywhere in our city and I’ve seen them do the same. I thought the poor bunny was suffering heat stroke and I put a bowl of water out by the perennials they like to nibble on and prayed the bunny would be alright…and now I know they are not suffering when I see them do that! Ha ha ha!

    I enjoy your blog. Love and light.

  27. Jane, I’ve been following your blog since Day One (and your film career since Tall Story!) and I honestly think that this is one of your best postings. However, I also noticed you answered a question about eating disorders and it occurred to me that you could offer some guidance on yet another problem. I was never easy with flying but after two back-to-back flights with turbulence in the 1990s I’ve been too terrified to get on a plane again. This has put a big crimp in my traveling, which I love to do, now necessitating I drive or take trains. You seemingly do scores, if not hundreds of flights each year, tens of thousands over your lifetime, in all conditions imaginable. Other than the fatigue and hassle of flying do you have any fear of it? Have you ever had bad flights that scared you or ones that you thought you might not make it off of? I don’t mean to expose your fears it’s just that people treat you like a child when you admit to being afraid to fly. Yes, I know it’s statistically safe–but it is a phobia, one that a lot of people have to some degree and won’t confess to, and phobias are by nature irrational. Any advice you’d might have would help. I have to overcome this!

    • Brian, I have no fear of flying but know plenty of people who do. There are doctors/therpists who help people overcome phobias. Also, calming medications such as valium and Xanax can help.

      • Hi Jane,
        to meet Brian behavioral therapy (Jane, it’s correct ? in french Thérapie comportementale) is also an excellent remedy. It’s very effective.
        I love these little prairie dogs, this is adorable !
        the one in position sun salutation, it’s funny !!
        Thank you for the post informative and pictures.
        you inspired me to illustrate a book of baby.
        Take care of you xxx

      • Jane, thank you for the reply. Knowing that you fly frequently and do so with no fear has fortified me. I think I’ll book a flight very soon and think to myself “If she can do it, why the hell can’t I?” After reading your book I realized that you worked hard to overcome many challenges, so I will too. Many thanks.

  28. Beautiful!

  29. Hi Jane! It is the very first time I ever registered for somebody’s blog. I still remember the time I was watching On Golden Pond so many years ago in China when I was still a young young girl. Time flies! The little girl has grown older, but you still look so good. You are a very special person in so many ways.

  30. I enjoyed reading this blog, and the pics are absolutely delightful, but I was saddened to hear that the US doesn’t protect its native wildlife. In Australia all native birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and some fish are protected and it’s illegal to kill them. (Although, of course, Australia is far from perfect). Hopefully people like Ted Turner will be able to not only improve the environment, but also improve attitudes and awareness as well. I hope the kind of thinking that creates things like the Red Mist Society, Varmint Hunters Assoc, and killing contests is not common or in the majority? I personally find it disturbing that there are people being so open about gaining pleasure from killing, and, judging by your opening paragraph, it seems to be an acceptable attitude in areas where Prairie Dogs live. I applaud Ted Turner’s conservation efforts, and hope he never stops.

  31. Will you be attending the Primetime Emmy Awards? I am lucky enough to be sitting in the bleachers of the Red Carpet with the rest of the screaming fans this year! I know the red carpet must be crazy, but if you remember, try to look over at the bleachers so I can get a picture of you! If you are attending, I know you are going to look fabulous! And good luck! You definitely deserve that Emmy! Fabulous performance!

    • My catagory will be voted on a week before the televised Emmys. If I win I will present at those Emmys. If not I’ll just go to the afterparty.

  32. Hi, Jane.

    I recently had one of my friends accuse of me of not wanting friends, but fans. As much as I tried to let this roll of my back, it did get me to thinking. Just out of curiosity, how do you define friendship? I am fascinated by your blog on many levels. First of all, I am a fan. I find you to be an inspirational, talented, engaged & engaging, strong, searching and beautiful human being. I think that it is a wonderful thing how you reach out and touch people, as it demonstrates a genuine (if necessarily buffered) concern and connection.

    As such, I sit here thinking you won’t be annoyed with me telling you that I am tired — but, carrying on. 354 days sober. Working my spiritual program — and accepting that there is very little that I do know. But, the important stuff, that of which I am certain is as follows: God loves us all, equally. I am Blessed and lucky to have a husband to care for (and to receive love back from). My family is important to me.

    I am important to me. (I am just now beginning to say those words, and mean them.)

    I am in the middle of a very exhausting 19 day stretch at work. I love my guests, quite genuinely. But, every two seconds the bell rings & I smilingly meet their requests, thinking to myself, “They shoot horses, don’t they?” LOL.

    Take good care. I really hope you are well & always look forward o your updates.

  33. What the heck happened!?! I thought for sure you would win! I am probably more disappointed than you are! I am happy you were recognized for your outstanding performance with the nomination, though. It must have been very close with the votes. Boy oh boy are you one talented lady! Enjoy your party. Sure wish I could have seen you on that red carpet. Sigh.

  34. Hello ! I am a French artist specialized in animals (my work on http://www.sylvie-Manso.com English version available from the front page) and I will come to NM to settle, very likely in Madrid near Santa Fe, next year. I am planning to buy a house there with some land and work there as an artist and an animal behaviorist. I love prairies dogs and would welcome them in my land . Is there a place where we can get a few of them to start a reintroduction process ? I would not like to buy them from a pet store , not knowing if they are able to survive in the wild… And I don t encourage pet trade. Please let me know if you have any cue. I intend to keep bees, garden organic (as I already do in France in the suburbs of Paris) and will help as much as I can to preserve the American wildlife beauty. Thanks by the way for your positive and radiant energy, you are an inspiration to many of us, women, also in France !

    • sylvie, what a wonderful and interesting idea! I suggest you Goggle to find the several Prairie Dog organizations and get in touch to see what they have to say. It depends, in part, on the size of the area and quality/type of grasses. Thank you for caring. You might mention there is a little mound on the corner of Cerrillos and St Francis with a family of the dogs sandwiched in between a chain link fence. I have nightmares abut that little family. Maybe they’ll let you relocate those. x

  35. I have always felt the same way about prairie dogs. I dearly love and appreciate them and am heartbroken by mass development and the decimation of their species.

  36. I’m glad you wrote about this.That was enlightening.

    I think we have to look at it from the little prairie dog’s perspective.

    They live under the ground. That’s their home.That’s where they were placed.

    That’s all they know. They are entitled to have a prairie dog neighborhood/area of their own.

    They don’t intentionally come and mess up someone’s yard, garden or property.

    They are just doing prairie dog things. Seeing your photos of them, they seem like delightful little animals.

    We can co-exist with them and like you said, just try and relocate them (if they are messing up your yard or something) rather than intentionally destroy them.

    What would the world be without these special creatures? You’re right. We can’t risk losing them!

    I live in the woods in the mountains, and have no problem letting nature do it’s thing.Personally, I have no use for a manicured lawn. I like the wild. I live with wildlife- I don’t bother the forest animals/nature by cutting down trees or poluting their habitat and they don’t bother me.

    It’s a mutually respectful arraignment.

    There ARE ways to peacefully exist with these creatures that share our planet with us, if we just take the time to learn how.

    Kudos to Ted for doing what he’s doing.Thanks for sharing about this!

  37. Howdy Jane,
    I own a 651 acres in southern N.M.
    I am trying to sale the place before I kick the bucket and the market is not helping matters. I’d be more than happy to send all the information about the place that I would sale for less that $1500.00 and acre. Your assistance in getting this place sold would sincerely be appreciated. We have prairie dogs there too!


  38. Congrats Jane on your recent award, well deserved! I appreciate your philanthropic heart and love of all animals. I know, like you, too well the pain of holding a beloved pet while it’s being put to sleep. I am new to the realm of activism but have started a petition against the cruel treatment of farm animals – horses, pigs, sheep, cows and chickens – in long distance transport where they go without food and water and rest for literally days. It’s heartbreaking and millions die each year on the road. If you have a moment to sign my petition at change.org via chn.ge/U8flPU, the animals and I would so appreciate it! All the best to you! Rachel

  39. I’m a bit late to the rodeo on this post, my apologies. This morning on Facebook I read an account of over 100 prairie dogs in CO being relocated after their home territory was destroyed due to construction of a shopping center. I was appalled at the responses from so many people saying these animals should have been destroyed or used for target practice and how if they have Prairie Dogs on their land they kill them. I was disappointed and greatly saddened. Below that post was a link to this story and it renewed my faith in humanity. 🙂 Thank you for sharing…

  40. I just found this post, but I have to comment…. OOO. EEMMM GEEE!! The little hands!! Like raccoons! AND the KISSES. PRECIOUS! I have no idea how people could want to hurt them; I nearly had a breakdown when I thought I ran over a squirrel last week. (He was fine!)

  41. Ms Fonda,

    Great article and don’t you just love the prairie dogs?

    I need your help to save about 100 prairie dogs in Boulder, Colorado.

    Naropa, a Buddhist inspired university is contemplating kill these amazing critters. I started a petition and when we got over 130,000 signatures from world over, the petition was delivered.

    Naropa claimed that they want to use the permit to spur community to help them and they wanted to use it to get attention. They got the attention and also offer to help from WildLands Defense provided they withdraw the kill application which I do not think is unreasonable. Still they refused to withdraw their kill permit application whilst saying they do not want to kill these prairie dogs. Many of us posted on Naropa’s facebook urging them not to kill these prairie dogs but anyone who dares to speak up for these innocent critters have had our comments deleted and many of us have been banned. They left one prairie dog post as it did not gather the many comments compared to the one they deleted. They put out false information and we have no way of correct their misinformation and play the victim when the real victims are these innocent prairie dogs.

    I and a few emailed His Holiness but have yet to receive a response. Will you be willing to lend your voice for these sentient critters? Many have been so persecuted in Colorado. Only today I heard that a colony in Aurora will be poisoned. Will you help us save the Naropa prairie dogs? Your celebrity status will certain bring a lot media attention to this petition. here is my petition http://www.thepetitionsite.com/758/476/351/mommy-i-heard-that-naparo-university-is-going-to-have-all-of-us-killed/ thanks so much for your kind attention.

  42. Hi, well this seems a little late, by 2 years perhaps, but, it’s because I just read an article of your recent home/acreage sale of Forked Lightning Ranch. Congrats!-always a great feeling. Anyway, I love this article, grew up in a desert with lots of prairie dogs-before expansion-out in no man’s land. And, they were always amazing to watch. Very nice to help them. I was dismayed though when the first interior photo of your ranch showed a 6-point elk head mounted above your fireplace in the living room and stated that you had killed it at Ted Turner’s ranch in Montana, while hunting. Doesn’t that seem a little hypocritical of both you and Ted Turner; to urge compassion and empathy toward one species of animal in one breath, but then pridefully display a hunted elk’s head that you shot and killed in your gorgeous living room? How do the two acts reconcile-I don’t get it.

    • Mary, I understand where you’re coming from. Let me give you my point of view: I learned from living with Ted Turner and spending much time with him in wilderness surrounded by wildlife, that because humans have eradicated so many natural preditors, there are species whose numbers are out of control and others who may not be over populated, but the old and infertile are living longer than they would under natural circumstances. Hunters who follow the rules are those that cull the over-populated herds and older animals. This is particularly true with deer, elk, bison, etc. I’ll give you an example: One year on Ted’s (Turner) very large plantation in Florida, the state issued licenses to kill 300 deer. If the folks on the plantation didn’t do it, the state would come on and do it. Why? Because the deer that year were way too plentiful and there would be starvation amongst them if the herd wasn’t thinned. In other words, humans have to undo the harm we have done by killing off the natural predators. Biologists who work for the state do careful studies to assess animal numbers and determine how to keep them healthy. Ted has been doing his best to restore the predators–wolves in Montana, for examples. He has, perhaps more than any other individual, worked to restore almost-extinct species. There are biologist, paid by him, on all his properties, protecting the reintroduced endangered species. Yes, he has hunted in his life and so did I when we were together because I understood the reasons it was done and knew we were following the rules.I learned a great deal through the process. Do I still hunt? no. I hope you understand. x

  43. Just a note for those who may be curious about prairie dog language – for a functional language it seems to be:
    Explore the work of Con Slobodchikoff at AZ State on his and others’ work on this. Dr. Slobodchikoff has been involved in critique and proposal of just what we mean when using the term, language. His Discourse System seems a better description tan do any of those of contenders seeking to artificially and inaccurately limit verbal language to a single primate.
    From cetaceans to bats, there are contingent complexities showing that very specific meaningful communications occur, evolved and meant to transfer important information.

    As a student of wolves, wildlife, genetics, conservation science and neurology, I’ve found though, that consciousness, awareness, intentionality, and purposeful communication and sociality do not depend upon symbolic verbal language.

    Some of our own difficulties have arisen due to the capacity for deception and imagined gauging of reciprocity imposed by our particular kind and use of language. But that, while exceedingly important to our sociality, is a subject requiring more of your exploration outside Ms. Fonda’s blog.

    To Ms. Fonda on the interactions of state wildlife agencies and Mr. Turner’s efforts:
    It seems that the US Constitution, formed before the valuation of wild, self-willed animal species as essential to the integrity and persistence of vital resources such as water, soil, and even air (but that issue would need a deep grasp of palaeontology to cover), overgeneralized, now interpreted as states having all rights not specifically given to the federal government.

    This even though commerce in the usage of the late 1700s, meant practically any interaction,from speech, affinity, or even sex. Wildlife, animals, are highly mobile, not limiting themselves to artificial boundary lines drawn on human maps. This alone should infer that they participate in interstate and international commerce, if commerce were not later limited to mean “trash for cash.”
    So the allocation of other animals than ourselves as property, and in the case of wild, self-willed animals, as state property rests upon some facile and erroneous judicial precedent.
    That’swhy the destructive intrusion of state into privately-held conservation intent. Florida has an effective apex predator, the Florida Panther a subspecies of Puma concolor; it’s a critically-endangered animal.
    Predator populations, as some know, rise and fall following herbivore numbers. Those interested should explore the iterations of the “Green World Hypothesis”; if not for ecologically effective predator populations, in short, the world would not be so green as you see.
    I believe that Mr. Turner understands these issues, as does Ms. Fonda (I had wondered what she was doing these days; her lifetime concerns have had a good influence on many, many people, and hopefully will help to change some drawbacks of the present culture).

    We too often find that those with good intent dissipate their social effectiveness through needlessly attacking others whose goals and values are conducive to bettering the plight of the real world around us. Sometimes we even align with ideations inimical to conservation and health. Ms. Fonda and Mr. Turner both in their individual way, live on the message of life.

    All human groups seem to have had cultural practices in which some trophies are retained, in order to self-identify and remind of relationships. While trophy hunting since Victorian Europe has gone beyond all reasonable bounds (famed Teddy Roosevelt , for instance, while acting to effect much conservation, misperceived the gray wolf , fatuously in his mind separating the species from its indispensable participation in preserving all he loved), the present excesses of for instance, Trump’s children, shoot prairie dogs and elephants, run counter to any understandable recognition of the value of life. I’ve been right up close to numerous wild animals experiencing death, and can tell you that denying a meaning beyond that granted to any outside our personal or imagined loved ones, is a cultural mistake so grave that it has one accurate word – aberrance.

    I admit that I do write from outside the Eurasian and any culture that fails to grant equivalent status to lives other than ours or our domestics. Against gratuitous murder, I once found that my opinion was of no consequence to that of the elected and self-aggrandizing social “leaders.”
    Strangely, Ms Fonda’s work with antiwar former social domestics, taught us children that society only responds to those associated with perceived social status. A lesson indeed; only those you include in your perceived community, gain pity; and pity is one of the meanings of the Polynesian word aloha – its full meanings include friendship, passion, love, unconditional regard. It should carry us to realization that we should not slice concepts so thin as to make each absent meaning.

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