In my frequent travels to Billings, sometimes referred to as the Magic City, I like to stop at the metropolis of Greycliff, which is about halfway between Big Timber and Reedpoint. It’s a good place to stretch one’s legs and check out Prairie Dog Town State Park.
There are usually dozens of coteries — that’s what the family units are called — with males, females and pups popping in and out of their holes, and making a funny sort of barking sound as a warning to others.
I realize I’m about to piss off a bunch of people by questioning why anyone would want to shoot these little critters. Hunting of just about anything is sacrosanct in Montana, and I suppose ranchers and farmers are justified in protecting their crops and livestock from the perils of prairie dog colonies.
But getting an erection buying the pre-hunt ammo, and then blasting the shit out of prairie dogs just for fun says it all about Greg Gianforte and his hunting buddy, Donald Trump Jr.
Then there’s this, from The Humane Society (hat tip to Matthew Koehler):
For prairie dogs, March through June is peak breeding season, which means pregnant, adult females will also be at risk. This is especially disconcerting because Black-tailed prairie dogs have an average of fewer than three pups per year.
By the grin on Gianforte’s face, you can tell he’s well-pleased sticking it to those who might think shooting these highly social critters lacks a certain degree of sportsmanship.
As I’ve mentioned, I understand fair chase and stocking the freezer with wild game, and I figure a landowner has the right to maintain his or her property as it relates to agricultural production.
And Black-tailed prairie dogs aren’t an endangered species, although their numbers have decreased by 90 percent over the last 100 years. Their ecosystem is critical, however, to many other species, like the endangered Black-footed ferret and other, larger predators.
It’s the mindset of those who kill just for sport that is the true insight into Gianforte, Trump Jr. and their supporters.
First, here’s a short video of what hunting prairie dogs looks like.
Second, here are some of the comments that appeared at Gianforte’s Facebook page after the photo, above, was posted:
“Shoot all gophers and or prairie dogs.”
“Sorry you have to settle for Meadow Maggots Greg, liberals arn’t out of their holes yet.”
“Well what is a guy supposed to do when there arn’t any Libtard Snowflakes around? Oh and go tie up your Man Bun and dance “free form” to some Grateful Dead music.”
“They ARE NOT a “protected” species. You have them confused with Blacks, Homosexuals, Females, Liberals and other entitled groups.”
I must be out-of-touch with hunting ethics if this is what mainstream Montanans are thinking, and I hate to resort to bumper sticker aphorisms but one I saw quite a while ago: “Human beings aren’t the only species on Earth, they just think they are.”
A progressive woman I was talking to the other day said that shooting prairie dogs is small potatoes when it comes to holding Gianforte accountable to his policies and values.
“There are bigger fish to fry,” she said.
I suppose that’s true. Still, shooting pregnant prairie dogs for sport speaks volumes to me.