Donald Trump Jr. Is Going to Montana to Kill Pregnant Prairie Dogs

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric are known for their passion for gunning down large African animals. In 2011, their tour company, Hunting Legends, posted images of the pair smiling with their trophies: a leopard, bull, waterbuck, crocodile, and even one holding an amputated elephant's tail next to the animal's body.


Now, several Montana media outlets have reported that businessman Greg Gianforte, Republican nominee for Montana's House seat in the 2017 special election, announced he would take Donald Trump Jr. on a hunting excursion this weekend to shoot Black-tailed prairie dogs in Montana. 

For prairie dogs, March through June is peak breeding season, which means pregnant adult females will also be at risk. This is particularly troubling because Black-tailed prairie dogs have an average of fewer than three pups per year.

These innocent creatures are shot for nothing more than target practice. In using high-powered weapons to kill prairie dogs, the animals can seem to explode or have body parts severed and sent flying. 

While shooting prairie dogs in Montana is completely legal, it is not at all ethical.

“I was disappointed I guess that any national or international politician or celebrity would have the opportunity to come to Montana in the spring and their first choice of things they want to do is shoot prairie dogs," said Dave Pauli, senior advisor for wildlife policy at The Humane Society of the United States.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are known for having advanced social behaviors, including protecting each other by standing watch for other members of their social group and communicating with what Scientific American called "the most sophisticated vocal language ever decoded...Even better than chimps, dolphins and orcas."

While populations of prairie dogs naturally expand and contract, the species has experienced an overall decline of more 95 percent across their natural range. According to the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Multi-State Objective Plan, Montana's most recent survey, taken in 2008, revealed the state is below its minimum objective levels for prairie dog conservation.

There are numerous factors contributing to the decline of prairie dogs, including poisoning and hunting, loss of habitat to human development and agriculture, the introduction of exotic diseases and climate change. All of these factors make it extremely difficult for prairie dogs to survive. 

“Prairie dogs are an important keystone species with myriad other species dependent on their survival, including the burrowing owl, black-footed ferret and nesting birds. People do not hunt these animals for food or any legitimate wildlife management purposes,” said Lindsey Sterling Krank, director for the Prairie Dog Coalition of The Humane Society of the United States. “We have a duty to protect them to ensure that every species within the ecosystem continues to thrive.”

There is no legitimate wildlife management purpose to kill prairie dogs and people do not typically hunt prairie dogs for food. Prairie dogs—especially pregnant ones—deserve to be protected, not shot.

Watch this video of ABC Fox Montana's news report on Trump, Jr.'s trip to hunt Montana's prairie dogs.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.