As part of his efforts to support Republican Greg Gianforte, Donald Trump Jr. will be going to Montana to shoot prairie dogs, angering local residents.
In late May, Gianforte — a millionaire from New Jersey — is in a high-profile race against populist folk singer Rob Quist to fill Montana’s lone at-large Congressional seat that was vacated after former U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke became Secretary of the Interior in the Trump administration. In his last run for office, Gianforte lost a gubernatorial election to Democrat Steve Bullock despite spending $5.5 million of his own money, and is likely to face a tough challenge in going against Quist, who has been recently endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), the most popular active politician in the country.
To help boost Gianforte’s notoriety in a state that voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by 20 points in November, President Trump’s son will be tagging along with Gianforte as the two shoot prairie dogs, which are a type of rodent typically known to cause damage to crops. There is currently no hunting limit on prairie dogs, and hunters typically shoot them during times of the year when other game isn’t in season.
“What can be more fun than to spend an afternoon shooting the little rodents?” Gianforte said of the planned outing with Trump Jr, who has been the target of controversy in the past for going on big-game trophy hunting excursions with his brother, Eric.
However, during this time of year, prairie dogs are nursing their young, and shooting lactating females could mean their pups starve to death. Lindsey Sterling Krank — a University of Montana graduate who currently heads the Humane Society’s Prairie Dog Coalition — told the Associated Press that hunting prairie dogs at this time of year could harm more than 100 other species, who either depend on the prairie dog as a primary source of food or live in the burrows that prairie dogs dig.
“Shooting a prairie dog colony is not a good conservation message,” Sterling Krank said.
However, Gianforte dismissed those concerns outright, saying that it would be “fun” to kill rodents nursing their young with the son of the President of the United States.
“Clearly they’ve never shot a prairie dog,” he said. “They don’t know how much fun it is.”