By creating burrow systems, clipping vegetation, and improving the nutrient quality of their habitat, prairie dogs serve as ecosystem engineers that support numerous other native species of the prairie grasslands, including rattlesnakes. Unfortunately, prairie dogs are extremely susceptible to plague epizootics and declines in the species have devastating ramifications for grassland communities. Populations of endangered black‐footed ferrets, a predator of healthy prairie dog colonies, have suffered extirpation in the wild due to a lack of prairie dog prey. Since the arrival of plague in North America in the early 1900s, as well as systemic poisoning by farmers to enhance human agriculture, prairie dog numbers and range have been drastically reduced.