Montana media outlets have reported that Greg Gianforte announced he would take Donald Trump Jr. on a hunting excursion 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 especially disconcerting because Black-tailed prairie dogs have an average of fewer than three pups per year.
“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.”
The Prairie Dog Coalition of the HSUS has long opposed contest shoots and other shooting killing escapades where these 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 prairie dog populations expand and contract naturally, overall the species has declined by more 95 percent across their range.
- According to the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Multi-State Objective Plan, Montana's most recent survey in 2008 shows the state below their minimum objective levels to conserve the prairie dog.
- One of the biggest factors contributing to the decline of prairie dogs is the poisoning and shooting of prairie dogs, loss of habitat to development and agriculture, introduction of exotic diseases and climate change which all make it hard for prairie dogs and their associates to survive.
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