Okay, I know this is an obsession of mine and I go way overboard with it, but here goes. I am here in South Dakota, and I see this front page article in the Argus Leader: Wis. Town Mourns Loss: Victims Were Headed to S. D. to Hunt Prairie Dogs." I was startled -- not so much by the crash itself, as that is a more or less regular tragedy nowadays. It was to realize that three guys would go all the way from Wisconsin to South Dakota to "hunt" prairie dogs. That's taking into consideration what hunting prairie dogs means: 1) Sitting in front of a prairie dog town in which the prairie dogs (Cynomis ludovicianus) must leave their burrows or starve, 2) blowing their little heads off with a high-powered rifle and scope when they do, and 3) leaving their bodies to rot uselessly in the prairie sun.* They were doing this at the same time that I was coming here to watch prairie dogs through binoculars and telescope whilst sipping iced drinks and catching up on my reading. I just hope they weren't planning on killing the same animals that I was watching.
May these poor lost souls rest in peace.
* As near as I can tell, humans do not eat Cynomis species. A search for "prairie dog recipies" turned up only foods to feed to your pet prairie dogs. Yes, people do keep them as pets. One owner has emailed me to say that they are intelligent and affectionate.
In the picture above (click to enlarge), the white mounds in the grass are prairie dog burrows.