Environment Greg Gianforte Montana Politics

This sums up Gianforte to a T

Written by Pete Talbot
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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.

“Stocking up on ammo for our prairie dog hunt this weekend with Donald Trump Jr.”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

16 Comments

    • Ask Rob Quist if he shoots over populated pocket gophers damaging pasture land.
      (In my experience that’ s like shooting over populated Starlings damaging nests of other birds.Shooting such of pocket gophers is more humane than poisioning them!)

      Ask Rob how many Prairie Dogs he has shot at.

      Here’s his words on his schedule:

      “From Hamilton to Billings, we’ve been crisscrossing the state talking to voters about what’s at stake this election. I’m looking forward to a few opportunities next week to show voters how I will be a voice for Montanans, while my opponent only stands up for millionaires like himself. Next week I will be facing my opponent in dual editorial board meetings with the Billings Gazette on April 25th, the Independent Record in Helena on April 28th and having our first debate in Great Falls hosted by MTN News that will be broadcast statewide on April 29th. I also accepted the debate proposal from MSU students in Bozeman on April 26th, but my opponent declined to attend so I will be doing a rally . . . “

      • bob, they are not pocket gophers that are out in the pastures and alfalfa fields, they are Colombian ground squirrels, I think they are Richardson ground squirrels on the east side. Pocket gophers are a lot smaller and pretty much are nocturnal, they also do not hibernate as they dig roots all winter long, and leave behind the dirt tubes you find in the spring. I agree that shooting them is much better than poison, although the lead bullets when consumed by a raptor or owl is pretty much a death sentence. As a lifelong hunter who only shoots what I will then eat, I agree with Pete on this, killing something for the pure enjoyment of doing so has always made me a little concerned about the person who does this. If you have a pasture that has gophers, you are protecting your livestock and finances, that is different than killing for fun. This type of behavior is what I have come to expect out of the trumps and Gianforte.

  • Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – it’s not easy to rid fields of those rodents, and after they’ve been shot at some of them get pretty wary, and you might have to be 150 yards away before they’ll offer you a shot. I’ve used up lots of .223 cartridges, and missed a lot more than I ever hit.

    • I’ve given my post further thought, Eric. Prairie dogs are certainly a nuisance in some parts of Montana, and compete with the interests of farmers and ranchers. I’m an urban dweller but have experience with pernicious critters. In my case, it’s White-tailed deer. They’ve overrun my Missoula neighborhood: I damn near trip over them in the morning when I go out to get my newspaper, and if whatever I plant isn’t fenced, it’s eaten down to the nub.

      Why is this? Because our species, Homo Sapiens, has so changed the Earth’s ecosystem that other species are either flourishing or diminishing, some to the point of extinction. I’m sure if we let the deer’s natural predators roam our streets, like wolves and mountain lions, they wouldn’t be as much of a problem. Same is true with prairie dogs’ natural predators, which we’ve decimated over the years. That, and the fact that some of the best ranching and farming land is also prime prairie dog habitat.

      I think my real distaste for the prairie dog hunt is that GG and Trump Jr. are using it strictly for PR purposes — that they’re gun-loving macho guys who just like to kill things with no concern for fair chase, putting meat on the table or the ecosystems they’re affecting. It’s not like these guys are trying to protect their crops or livestock.

      So it’s the bloodlust that bothers me the most about these Facebook posts; something you also seem to be afflicted with.

      • I thought all they have been shooting was TV’s – Ha Ha

        As far as the Deer go, you should drive up by Castle Rock Jr. High in Billings heights – it’s overran with Antelope. I get a kick out of it – those Antelope have lived there for a millennium, and dammit – they are not leaving !

  • Those prairie dogs have been there at least since the 70’s, and having some spoiled rich little shit take over their turf just might make some Montana shooters realize that our way of life has been bought out from under us. Believe it or not, I used to work at the Greycliff Bar, and I worked at the Four Winds Truck-stop too before I-90 killed it.

  • On to the obvious. Rob handed his rifle like he was used to it. Notice the iron sights. No short or full scope. Notice calibre of bullet. Probably around .30 calibre. Notice bullet hit center target.
    Rob did not shoot right or left. Did not pull right or left. Rob knows his sights are right.

    Yes bullet hit above dead center.
    That tells me he’s more used to shooting at a distance.

    Obviously a staged shot. I’m curious to know what happened pre-shoot.
    How many TV sets were on site.
    Did Rob say such as: “Only need one!”

  • We often hear various “Sportsmen’s” groups express their deep love of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

    Does blasting away at pregnant, native wildlife like Black-tailed prairie dogs for ‘fun’ (and public relations) follow the much-espoused North American Wildlife Conservation Model?

    I’ve read in numerous places that Donald Trump Jr is a member of various “Sportsmen’s” groups in Montana, including Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Boone and Crocket Club, Trout Unlimited. I’m not sure if Trump Jr is a member of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership but that groups, and their director, have sure heaped nothing by praise on Donald Trump Jr over the past year, both during the election and in the weeks immediately following.

    So, will any of these “Sportsmen’s” groups – who claim to support the North American Wildlife Conservation Model and ethical hunting practices – publicly express any concern about Trump Jr. pregnant prairie dog PR hunt? If the answer is no, could it be because Donald Trump Jr is a member of their “Sportsmen’s” groups and they fear upsetting him, or losing his membership? If these groups wouldn’t speak out against something so basic as a pregnant prairie dog hunt for strictly PR purposes, what other more substantial and consequential issues are they also willing to sit out and remain silent over?

    Finally, does anything know if this pregnant prairie dog hunt is taking place on our public land, or on private land? Obviously if the shooting of pregnant black-tailed prairie dogs is taking place on public lands, it would allow Gianforte and Trump Jr to deliver their version of a pro-public lands and wildlife message, not matter how disturbing and grotesque that might be to some people. Then again, two guys who certainly qualify as the 1% of the 1% blasting away at pregnant prairie dogs on private land is equally as disturbing and grotesque.

    As a hunter myself Greg Gianforte and Donald Trump Jr are sure giving a lot of great PR fodder to those who already may consider themselves “anti-hunting.”

    • Matthew, Please do not lump Trout Unlimited in with the other groups you mentioned. TU employs biologists that understand that trout need an environment that is fairly pristine to thrive. Trout will only flourish when the entire environment around them is healthy. Unlike other conservation models that have one or two sport species in mind, the model used for native trout takes all species within an ecosystem into account. If there is something present that is harming the local environment the trout population will be one of the first species to show significant decline. It is interesting to note that global climate change is currently the biggest threat that our native cutthroat population faces, much worse than mining, logging, energy extraction or population encroachment. And I do fully agree with your take on the TRCP, that is why I no longer consider them to be a conservation group, to bad, at one time they did some pretty good work.

    • Matthew, I don’t know if it is public or private land. I do know that it is not in productive farmland (as Gianforte implied), and that a majority of the human males who grew up in the neighborhood have not lived to see their mid 50’s.

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