Species (Canis latrans) of canine found in North and Central America. Its range extends from Alaska and Canada south through the continental U.S. and Mexico to Central America. It weighs about 20–50 lbs (9–23 kg) and is about 3–4 ft (1–1.3 m) long, including its 12–16-in. (30–40-cm) tail. Its coarse fur is generally buff above and whitish below; its legs are reddish, and its tail is bushy and black-tipped. The coyote feeds mainly on small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and hares but can also take down deer, sometimes doing so in packs. Vegetation and carrion are commonly eaten as well. Though persecuted by humans because of its potential (generally overstated) to prey on domestic or game animals, it has adapted well to human-dominated environments, including urban areas. A coyote-dog cross is called a coydog.
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Any of five species (genus Cynomys) of short-legged, terrestrial squirrels, named for their barklike call. Once abundant throughout the plains of the western U.S., part of southern Canada, and northern Mexico, they are now found mostly in isolated or protected areas. They are 12–17 in. (30–43 cm) long, including a 1–5-in. (3–12-cm) tail. Their main diet is grass. Colonies consist of well-defined territories defended by a male, several females, and young. The burrows of the black-tailed prairie dog have carefully tended funnel-shaped entry mounds that prevent flooding and serve as lookout posts. The white-tailed prairie dog inhabits higher altitudes, hibernates, and is less colonial.
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Level or rolling grassland, especially that found in central North America. Decreasing amounts of rainfall, from 40 in. (100 cm) at the forested eastern edge to less than 12 in. (30 cm) at the desertlike western edge, affect the species composition of the prairie grassland. The vegetation is composed primarily of perennial grasses, with many species of flowering plants of the pea and composite families. The three main types of prairie are the tallgrass prairie; midgrass, or mixed-grass, prairie; and shortgrass prairie, or shortgrass plains. Coastal prairie, Pacific or California prairie, Palouse prairie, and desert plains grassland are covered primarily with combinations of mixed-grass and shortgrass species.
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Prairie, from the French prairie ("meadow", "grassland", "pasture"), refers to an area of land of low topographic relief that historically supported grasses and herbs, with few or no trees, and having generally a mesic climate.
Lands typically referred to as "prairie" tend to be in North America. The term encompasses much of the area referred to as the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. In the U.S., the area is constituted by most or all of the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, and sizable parts of the states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Minnesota. The Central Valley of California is also prairie. The Canadian Prairies occupy vast areas of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. There is only 2% of prairie land left in the U.S.