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March 11, 2008

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Discussion Topic: Is Prairie Dog Hunting “Hunting”?

A group called Forest Guardians doesn’t think so. Their petition to the Colorado Division of Wildlife begins as follows, as seen on the CDW website:


Pursuant to COLO. REV. STAT. § 24-4-103 Forest Guardians hereby petitions the Colorado Wildlife Commission (the “Commission”) to ban the shooting of live animals as targets. Forest Guardians further requests that the Commission declare and explicitly rule that the shooting of living animals for target practice and amusement is not “hunting,” and is therefore not protected by the hunting exception to Colorado’s laws prohibiting animal cruelty.

Check out the full petition (keeping in mind that some pages are graphic), and tell us your reaction.


Blue Ox

Forest Guardians? Is that what the PETA-files are calling themselves now?


Boy, talk about a slippery slope. If that passes, they'll probably try to outlaw predator hunts. Next thing you know, we won't be allowed to shoot deer unless we promise to also eat the gutpile.

Bruce Henry

First of all, I beleive that praire dog hunting does fit the definition of "hunting" in the article. You have to look hard to find places to hunt any species of varmint's.
My dad and my in-laws have a annual varmint hunt for "sage rat's" every year here in oregon, and this is the only time they can hunt because of their medical condition's. My younger cousin's go with them and learn many things about "ethical" hunting on these trips. They only hunt on private farms where the farmers are dissapointed every year that they don't actually kill more animals, because the varmints destroy so many crops every year. Just because they don't eat the critters doesn't mean that hunting them is wrong. This article also dosen't explain that the reason the pictures look so gruesome is because the hunters take great care in making precise hits with specialized ammunition that will make sure the animals are killed instantly, which minimizes the pain for the game animal. This is what ethical hunting is all about. Please don't take away the only hunting opprotunity for many of our elderly, and disabled citizens.

I'm in school right now

If it's target practice, it should be outlawed. But if people are honestly hunting, they should be allowed.



I hear prairie dog tastes like chicken!



I've just read the entire petition and have to say that the arguments made by the submitters are very sound. It is true that Prarie Dogs aren't killed for their pelts or meat. It is also true that sometimes Prarie Dogs are killed in Red Misting style, where maximum blood and carnage is the aim of the hunt. That is wrong, and should be outlawed. It really is target practice. I don't consider it much of hunting, and I actually think that it shouldn't be included in Colorado's hunting exception to the laws (in the full petition).

However, I think it is more of a population management activity. I fully understand why many people hunt the dogs. I have a few good friends with family that ranches in OK and Montana, and these families hunt prarie dogs. It is necessary cuz the dogs dig their holes, and then the rancher's cattle get their legs stuck in the holes and then break their ankles. This can seriously affect the value of the rancher's livestock, and it can make the rancher pay a lot of money in medical care for the large number of steer that break their ankles in prarie dog holes.

So, I think some compromise needs to be made. Lower daily bag limits on the dogs need to be put in place, that way people can't go shoot a couple hundred Prarie dogs in one day. This will at least take away the possibility for people to go on shooting sprees on the dogs, and killing them for high volume target shooting. However, it still makes it possible for people to use hunting to manage their population.

Chris H.

Look out fellas, they are trying to get in the back door! Give an inch and they walk all over us for miles. This is just another attempt to play on public sympathy that will roll over into other hunting issues if they succeed.


Maybe it shouldn't be hunting, but it should certainly fall under the heading of pest management. Most states have provisions for killing wildlife that is considered a "pest".

And pests should be exterminated.



I don't like the idea of shooting the animal for target practice at all. But if you use the animal for pelts or something else that's fine. The problem seems to be all though shooting them for target practice in my eyes isn't the greatest thing, if they do ban it that is one more step at getting rid of hunt'n all together.


I'm in school right now

They'll never get that far. There are to many hunters to petition. You are right though. Target practice should be outlawed, but there are people who hunt prarie dogs because they want to. Kudos to them.



I'm in school Right now,
The more they limit the hunt'n the closer they get to abolishing it all together. Although that doesn't seem likely you never know in this world.


White Pine

Note that you see more limits being put on hunting then taking limits away or adding more time to a season or even adding a season.

Sexy Man

Talk about Loosing there Habitat If the Hunters don't do it the Builders Will... I visisted CO about 4 years ago and i don't know how it is now but i was driving around where there was A LOT of new developments and new roads and i will tell you that i first hand saw more dead prairie dogs on the side of the road then 20 hunters could kill... these builders are scaring them out of there habitat and onto the roads where they become Road Kill and the sit and waste on the side of the road so whats the difference somone can eat them then...But i guess they will argue that the scavengers can eat them and then get hit by a car and become waste themselves... I'm sorry but i dont see the concept in this it is just in my eyes another way for them to crack down on hunting.. all you need to do is drive through a New development or a new road in CO and see all the Rotting carcases This is a Bunch of [email protected]&*....

The Sexiest man Alive


Another blatant effort by the anti hunters to leverage a divide between hunters. A lot of hunters never have and never will participate in varmint hunting. Those folks are highly unlikely to come out on the side of the prairie dog hunters in any kind of petition drive.

It's like banning hunting over bait... they'll find the support of a lot of hunters who don't do it, and thus, don't like it.

I can guarantee that it won't stop with prairie dogs.


Well, I must admit I shoot a few prairie dogs every year, but where I hunt we have a sub-species that doesn't have large colonies so it's almost impossible to shoot large numbers during a day. Still, it's a little bit of a stretch to call it "hunting".

It's actually a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" thing. Prairie dogs fill a certain nitch in the prairie ecosystem and shouldn't be exterminated, however they can be a nusance in certain areas and their numbers need to be reduced. In such cases, shooting is far better than the alternate method-poisoning.


they are just furry lil rats. shoot em up!!


Read the comment above you by Harold. He is right they do have an important role on prairies and fields. Thas's not to say we shouldn't hunt them at all. It's just the method we do it that is controversal.



sorry, thas's (that's)

Mc. Squizzy


Trae B.

Ok.I confess me and my buddies go down to the dump at night with pellet guns and flashlights and shoot rats because the dude who works at the dump asks us to.What would that be these days?Second degree murder?


Trae B,
No it's not second degree murder. And some of us just don't like the idea of hunting for no reason, if you can even call it hunting.

They seem OK with hunting as long as meat or fur are takem. It's when lead-tainted carcasses are left for scavengers that they get mad. So, instead of outlawing the p-dog hunt, why not just outlaw rimfire on the dogs? Or mandate non-expanding rounds? No lead in the carcass and the "poor starving coyotes" get a free meal and farmers rid themselves of a nuisance..

They seem OK with hunting as long as meat or fur are takem. It's when lead-tainted carcasses are left for scavengers that they get mad. So, instead of outlawing the p-dog hunt, why not just outlaw rimfire on the dogs? Or mandate non-expanding rounds? No lead in the carcass and the "poor starving coyotes" get a free meal and farmers rid themselves of a nuisance..

Matt Mallery

I'm going to go ahead and open myself up to fire the way I always do. About ten years ago National Geographic ran an article about prairie dogs. They have been drastically reduced from their former numbers. This has had devestating consequences for the black footed ferret and other plains species. The reason it'open season on these animals has nothing to do with science, it has to do with keeping ranchers happy (like most public land policy). I'm tired of ecosystems being destroyed to prop up the ranching industry. Most people hunting the dogs are not eating them, have no limits, and consider them pests. No native species is a pest. If anything, cattle are a pest.

I'm in school right now

I agree. We are the pests to them if they are the native species. And the you are right about the black footed ferret. They eat prarie dogs too.


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