underdog, a prairie story

This is the story of the reclaimation of the Great American Prairie, explaining how browsing bison and burrowing prairie dogs can help old farmland to revert to prairie allowing native plants, wolves, antelope and eagles to flourish once more.

programme information


1 x 60'

Production Company

Produced by NHK & Off the Fence for ORR, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Discovery HD theater & Animal Planet

Executive Producer

Ellen Windemuth



Episode Information

This evocative film goes right to America’s heart – to the great rolling prairie that once stretched like a green ocean through the Midwest to the eastern Rocky Mountains. It is a story of redemption, told through the mighty bison and the pint-sized prairie dog. They shape this unique landscape and would be lost without it. As bison roam, they create conditions for their settler brothers to set up their underground towns. The energetic burrowing of prairie dogs enriches the grasslands and allows many other animals and plants to follow. Most native grassland has gone, destroyed under the ploughs of settlers. But in some places, farming the prairie is unsustainable. It is too dry for grains to grow, so, farms are closing and towns are abandoned. However, it is now thought that up to 20m acres of farmland could be transformed into a wildlife paradise. Some dare to dream of returning the prairie to its former glory. But is it too little, too late?

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