Politics

Donald Trump Jr. Sparks Backlash With Prairie Dog Hunt

| by David Bonner

Donald Trump Jr. continues to draw the ire of animal rights activists.

Animal lovers condemned photos that he posted to Instagram in March, posing with a blacktip shark that was dragged onto the beach, as reported by International Business Times.

Also causing outrage were photos of him and his brother, Eric Trump, posing with animals they had shot in 2012 while on a big-game hunt in Africa, which the Daily Mail reported at the time. One of the photos showed Donald Jr. holding the sawed-off tail of an elephant.

The latest controversy involves a prairie dog hunt, an activity which Donald Jr. has planned for when he is campaigning in Montana for Greg Gianforte, who hopes to win that state's open U.S. House seat, reports The Associated Press. "What can be more fun than to spend an afternoon shooting the little rodents?" said Gianforte.

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He is up against Democrat Rob Quist in the May 25 election for the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Advocates of prairie dog hunting say that it helps landowners to control the population of the rodents, who are classified as "agricultural pests" because of the damage they can do to crops.

As a non-game species, there are no hunting limits on prairie dogs, and killing them is reportedly a popular pastime for many Montana residents.

As a result of hunting and disease, their numbers have been declining. "They are a species of concern but also a species not in need of management," said Greg Lemon, spokesman for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

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However, the Humane Society of the United States says prairie dogs are an important species for the Great Plains, noting that more than 100 other animals depend on them for food, and also for the burrows they dig, said Lindsey Sterling Krank, the organization's director for its Prairie Dog Coalition.

"I would love to take Donald Trump Jr. out with a spotting scope and shoot the prairie dog with our cameras," Sterling Krank said. "Shooting a prairie dog colony is not a good conservation message."

In response, Gianforte said the organization's concerns are without merit. "Clearly they've never shot a prairie dog," he said. "They don't know how much fun it is."

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has pledged to go to Montana next month to campaign for Quist, who is also a member of the Mission Mountain Wood Band. The Montana-based group is legendary, as the website explains:

Mission Mountain Wood Band first came to national prominence in the 70's, when they toured non-stop, putting over 3 million miles on their greyhound scenic cruiser playing over 250 dates a year at such places as Mr. Kelly's in Chicago, CBGB's in New York City, the Palomino in LA, and the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, as well as most of the colleges and universities throughout the U.S. They were featured on several national TV appearances such as Country Comes to New York on CBS, The ABC Cheryl Ladd Special (rated the #1 special of the year) and Hee Haw. The major acts that have opened for the Wood Band reads like a Who's Who in American music - Heart, Jimmy Buffet, Bonnie Raitt and Jay Leno to name a few.

Sources: AP via Chicago Tribune, Daily Mail, International Business Times, Mission Mountain Wood Band / Photo credit: Linda Tanner/Wikimedia Commons

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