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North Dakota Senator Unhealthily Obsessed With Prairie Dogs

'In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, gopher'.' - WonketteSenator Byron Dorgan (D-Caddyshack) wants you to know that he hates prairie dogs. Hates, hates, hates 'em. Did you know there are more prairie dogs than people in his county?


And did you know the federal government wants more prairie dogs in North Dakota? Or that prairie dogs, while they "essentially look like a rat," respond to verbal commands by 16-year-old kids?

Learn about Dorgan's frightening obsession, after the jump.

From the actual Congressional Record, here are two recent examples of Dorgan's War On Terror Prairie Dogs:

SEN. DORGAN (D-ND): The Prairie Dogs Are Taking Over. "In recent months, we had a little prairie dog fight. I will not go into all of the details. But prairie dogs took over a picnic grounds in the Badlands in North Dakota." (Sen. Dorgan, Congressional Record, S.795, 02/14/02)

SEN. DORGAN (D-ND): Prairie Dogs Replacing People In North Dakota. "Look we are not short of prairie dogs in western North Dakota; we are short of people. My home county went from 5,000 people to 3,000 people in 25 years. The county next to mine is bigger than the State of Rhode Island, and it has 900 people and only had seven babies, in a recent year, born in the entire year. These are counties that are dramatically shrinking, and losing their economic vitality." (Sen. Dorgan, Congressional Record, S.795-796, 02/14/07)
Okay, so other than the ominous "I will not go into all of the details," you could argue that Dorgan hasn't completely gone off the deep end with his hatred of cute lil' prairie dogs, but then there's this incredible rant delivered from the Senate floor just two weeks after his February 14 anti-Valentine's Day blasts at the critters:
We have a national park in the Badlands called the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I picked up a newspaper to read that there are too many elk in the park, an overpopulation of elk, which is going to be a serious problem for the national park. The Park Service has had some discussion about what they might want to do to thin out or cull the elk herd in the national park. It has grown dramatically. They were talking in the newspaper article I read about considering hiring Federal sharpshooters to kill some elk and then use helicopters to remove their carcasses from the national park, for meat, I guess.

It occurred to me there are times when the Government is completely devoid of common sense. I understand the Park Service says there is a prohibition on hunting in the national parks. On the other hand, it seems to me if you are hiring Federal sharpshooters to kill elk, they are going to be hunting those elk. It would make a lot more sense, to me, for a limited opportunity for qualified hunters to be able to hunt the elk in cooperation with Federal and State authorities. You do not need Federal sharpshooters to be paid. You do not need helicopters to haul the carcasses out of the park. All you need are hunters with a pickup truck or two, and you will be fine.

Today I am introducing a piece of legislation that would allow the Park Service to allow local hunters in my State to work on a cooperative basis with the Federal and State authorities to thin that elk herd. Culling or thinning the elk herd, apparently, is a necessity. It is going to happen. The question is how. Do we spend a lot of money hiring sharpshooters and helicopters or do we do this in a commonsense way and allow hunters to go in, in a coordinated way and a careful way, to thin and cull that elk herd? It seems to me the latter is the better approach.

The Park Service, by the way, at the moment also says my State is short of prairie dogs. Of course, that is not the case. We have far more prairie dogs than we know what to do with. The prairie dogs were born -- I should say luckily for them -- with a button nose and fur on their tail. Otherwise, they would essentially look like a rat. But we have a lot of prairie dogs.

We are told by Federal authorities we need more prairie dogs, not because they think prairie dogs are cute, but apparently because they want to reintroduce something called the black-footed ferret in my State. The last person to spot a black-footed ferret in my State allegedly spotted a black-footed ferret some 20 years ago and was widely thought, according to local folklore, to have been drinking at the time.

So there apparently are no black-footed ferrets that live in my State. They apparently went to warmer climates in the South some long time ago. Now we are told by Federal authorities we need more prairie dogs as food for black-footed ferrets who are going to be reintroduced to North Dakota.

It is no small wonder, then, I look at some of these Federal agencies and wonder if there is any reservoir of common sense left.

STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS [Congressional Record]
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