PRAIRIE DOGS ARE a kind of ground squirrel with such complex social interactions that researchers have determined their vocalizations constitute a language. Their burrows form “towns,” and their community supports an entire cohort of other species of birds, mammals and reptiles. This is forgotten when shooters use them for live target practice, which has been done to such an extent that prairie dog ecosystems have been eliminated from over 90 percent of their former range.
Now there has been an announcement of another contest to see who can bravely shoot the most prairie dogs while sitting comfortably in cushioned chairs at shooting tables set up nearby.
Please remember that hunters are supposed to be sportsmen concerned with ethics and conservation. Shooting the most prairie dogs to win a prize is neither of those things and anyone who calls himself a hunter who does this or supports it has betrayed wildlife and should abandon any claim to stewardship, because it rings as hollow as the bullets.
MARY KATHERINE RAY
Wildlife Chair, Rio Grande Chapter Sierra Club
Horses, cows not hurt by holes
HERE WE GO again! Now we are going to kill prairie dogs sponsored by a gun shop in Los Lunas, under the theory that prairie dogs damage rangelands and harm animals that step into their holes. Prairie dogs are the symptom, not the cause, of rangeland misuse such as overgrazing. There has never been a documented case of a horse or cow harming itself by stepping into a prairie dog hole. The misinformation put out by the gun shop owner needs to be challenged.
The more a range is overgrazed the more likely habitat will be created for prairie dogs. For the science behind this one should contact the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station in Rapid City, S.D., (which has) years of research on the effects of overgrazing and prairie dogs, and quit believing the nonsense that prairie dogs cause damage to rangelands.
Macho men, find something else
REALLY? IS picking off prairie dogs the only thing you macho types have to do?
If you’re really that bored, I have a whole lot of yard work I’d like done. At least that would release some of the apparently pent-up steam you’ve built up. It’s just so “sporting” to plug away at helpless creatures. And don’t even think about trying to justify this as a public service. At least when I take my guns out, I try and do something constructive. This “contest” is simply shooting furry fish in a barrel and elevates New Mexico to a level of absurdity that only this state could fathom.
Media take the chump bait easily
DON’T TAKE the chump bait.
In the fictional series “Boss,” a reporter receives a copy of a letter which implicates the mayor of Chicago in the dumping of toxic waste that has, over time, led to cancers and deaths among the children of an adjoining municipality. The reporter, unsure whether he is being used, creates a blog called “Chump Bait” to publish the letter.
Recently, the owner of a gun shop in Los Lunas contacted local media outlets to get some free publicity for his business by announcing yet another of his wildlife killing contests. The local television media dutifully journeyed to the gun shop and then broadcast the same, discredited rationale for yet another animal killing contest put forward by the gun shop owner and his preacher-manager.
The announcement of another wildlife killing contest thus becomes “news.” The gun shop owner has learned that he doesn’t need to buy advertising, he just needs to announce another statewide wildlife killing contest and he can publicize his business on the air, free of charge.
The fact that statewide wildlife killing contests are tolerated and encouraged in New Mexico is the real news. Providing free air time for a business promotion disguised as news means somebody took the chump bait – hook, line, and sinker.
Why not just pick off horses?
IN (THE LAND of) Oz, it’s lions and tigers and bears; in New Mexico it’s bears and horses and prairie dogs – oh my!
Looking at the concerns, suggestions, and comments, there are several ideas worth considering further – depending on the pet or pest, all in one’s viewpoint, involved.
Several recent letters and articles suggested setting up feeding stations for bears and possibly horses to keep them “corralled,” so to speak, with a comparison made to the elk feeding program in Utah. A worthwhile idea to discuss but with one big difference. For bears or elk, there are sanctioned hunting seasons and limits, with the objective of keeping their numbers within what their ranges will support naturally. There used to be and still are “mustang” roundups on public and private lands to keep the numbers under control, but there really isn’t a horse hunting program. A big difference.
Most cities and towns have animal control ordinances, pets or pests, and have active animal control personnel who capture loose/wild pets or pests and those programs do their best to humanely take care of all animals they catch. So, what prevents towns such as Placitas or that county from conducting a roundup of the wild horses and arranging for their disposition – first through offer for adoption and then for humane killing? Isn’t that what people expect their elected governments to do?
As for prairie dogs and sponsored hunts – why does that sporting goods store not just help solve the other issues and sponsor a horse shooting contest? Bigger targets and more of a “rush” for those hunters who just love to kill living targets? That’s sarcasm by the way; not serious!
CHRISTOPHER M. TIMM