On Earth Day, when millions around the world were celebrating ways to give back to nature and protect our planet, Donald Trump, Jr. was in Montana shooting prairie dogs with Greg Gianforte.
It’s not illegal to kill prairie dogs in Montana, even if they’re pregnant or nursing prairie dogs. But what does it do to a fragile ecosystem where myriad other animals such as burrowing owls, black-footed ferrets, and nesting birds depend on prairie dogs for their survival? It may not be illegal to interfere with the delicate balance of nature – but is it ethical, especially when it’s being done for no other reason than “fun?”
What Donald Trump, Jr. has done very successfully is shine a light on the shameful activities of trophy hunters. He and his brother relish shooting wild game in Africa and have posted images of themselves with their trophies – including a leopard, bull, waterbuck and an elephant.
Trophy hunters maintain that these killings are necessary for conservation and attract needed revenues to African nations. The reality is that African countries now realize that these animals bring in more money in tourism if they are alive, and many of these nations no longer support trophy hunters.
Are little prairie dogs a trophy that Donald Jr. can bring home to Manhattan? That won’t be easy, because a high-powered rifle essentially blows the prairie dog into smithereens so nothing remains
In addition, the prairie dogs are usually shot with lead ammunition. The lead-filled carcasses then become food for eagles, badgers, and other creatures that ingest the lead shot, further compounding the problem.
David Pauli, Senior Advisor Wildlife Response & Policy for the Humane Society of the United States, noted:
“Prairie dogs are a species of special concern and need to be protected. It is disheartening and disappointing that anyone would chose killing prairie dogs to promote what the state has to offer. To have this hunt on Earth Day makes it particularly troubling.”
Shooting prairie dogs isn’t about politics or Second Amendment rights. It is about respect for wildlife and protecting them from harm. The great state of Montana and its people are better than this.