A 19-page petition by Wild Earth Guardians argues that common practices of killing prairie dogs does not meet the legal or moral definition of hunting. Sunset Elementary third-graders debate.

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A 19-page petition by Wild Earth Guardians argues that common practices of killing prairie dogs does not meet the legal or moral definition of hunting. Sunset Elementary third-graders debate.

The great debate

Sunset Elementary third-graders argue the ban on shooting prairie dogs

— Recent news about a petition to ban prairie dog hunting has created some debate in one Sunset Elementary third-grade class.

"We had a pretty heated class discussion as far as 9-year-olds go," Sunset third-grade teacher Bill Ronis stated in an e-mail.

The conversation started a couple of weeks ago when the first article about the petition was in the paper, Ronis said.

"I thought it was a good subject to teach the children how to be for or against a cause using both facts and values," he said. "We researched the subject, pro and con, on the Internet for the facts. For the values, I asked them to talk about it at the dinner table with their families. They then had to write a paragraph stating their position on the subject."

The debate continued after another article on the ban came out this week.

"This current event has been great for our class," Ronis said. "It gives me, as a teacher, a great opportunity to get the kids to do some higher level thinking and writing."

Below are five arguments by the students for the ban, three arguments against the ban and one down the middle.

Sabrina

I'm here to talk about the banning of prairie dog shooting. If you've heard of it, then you can read this. If you haven't, still read it, and you'll learn a lot from what I know. Anyways, to the point, I think we should save the prairie dogs! I'm for it! Ban the shooting of prairie dogs! I think it is immoral hunting, senseless killing and for amusement! How can you go out and just kill? They've got feelings, too. The prairie dogs are a major food source for coyotes, hawks, snakes, ferrets and others. If you kill those prairie dogs, you're killing other animals, too. The lead bullets are poisonous, and when those animals eat the dead prairie dogs, they eat the lead and die, too. Are you a murderer I ask you? If you are a murderer then go out and kill them. If you aren't, then why are you killing them? Now, I live out of town in the country, but I still can love. I'm not a murderer.

So I ask you, would you like to ban the shooting of prairie dogs? If you don't, that's your opinion.

Makayla

Do you think prairie dogs are cute? I do. I have to ask you a question. Do you want to stop prairie dog shooting? I do. Are you for the ban on prairie dog shooting or against the ban on prairie dog shooting? I am for the ban on prairie dog shooting. Before you make up your mind, I am going to tell you why I'm for the ban on prairie dog shooting. The prairie dogs are a major food source for coyotes, hawks, snakes and more. When you shoot a prairie dog and leave the bullet in the prairie dog, then an animal will come and eat it, and the animal will die because there is lead in there and it is poisonous. I think it is immoral hunting, target practice, amusement and senseless killing. If you are on the against side, here are some reasons why prairie dogs are pests. They destroy land, grass and crops. Their holes break legs and equipment. They carry sickness. Are you against the ban or for the ban?

Suede

Please do not shoot the prairie dogs because they are just going to die anyway. The snakes, coyotes, hawks and other animals will eat them. So do not shoot them. They are just so cute. They dig holes for you when you want to plant some flowers. They are pests I know, but they will die anyways, so don't shoot the prairie dogs because they will die from snakes and coyotes and other animals.

Darylyn

I think prairie dogs are like humans. Prairie dogs make holes and people make towns. Why kill one of God's creations? So I am for the ban on prairie dog shooting. They're trying to live, and we are trying to live. What if they got rifles and shot us? How would you like that? We're both kind of alike in a way.

Jennifier

Do you have prairie dogs on your farm or ranch? I am for the ban on prairie dog shooting. I think shooting prairie dogs is wrong. I think that it is wrong because once you shoot them, they poison the next animal that eats them. People use them for target practice and amusement. Prairie dog shooting should be against the law because it is senseless killing. Guess what? 150 different animals rely on the prairie dog. Rabbits live in abandoned prairie dog holes as well as owls. Snakes and coyotes eat prairie dogs. Hawks and eagles eat them, too. Prairie dog is the sole food for the black-footed ferret.

Riley

Are you for or against the ban on prairie dog shooting? I'm right down the middle. I'm against because they are pests and they destroy land, grass and crops. They also carry sickness. They can break legs and equipment.

I am for the ban because why shoot them on BLM land when they don't do anything to you? It is a major food source for other animals. That is why I am right down the middle.

Brooke

So you have prairie dogs on your ranch? Well I do! I am against the ban on prairie dog shooting! They are pests! I am going to tell you why I am against the ban on prairie dog shooting. The first thing I am going to tell you is prairie dogs destroy the land. The next thing I am going to tell you is they destroy grass and crops by eating all the grass and crops. The third thing I want to tell you is they make great big holes. The holes break lots of animals' legs and some people's legs, too! The holes also make equipment bad. The last thing I want to tell you is the worst thing. They carry sickness. It can make you really sick and maybe even dead! That is my opinion of the ban on prairie dog shooting.

John T

Do you like prairie dogs? I don't. Prairie dogs are pests. They are pests because they dig holes. When our lambs are just born, they get stuck in the holes and then our lambs die in the holes! Prairie dogs destroy our land. They destroy the land because the holes are all over the place! They eat all the grass and hay, too. They make holes in our hay fields. Then, when our tractors drive over the holes, there is an enormous, big, bad, bump. Prairie dogs' holes break our sheep's legs. They break our sheep's legs by stepping in the holes. Prairie dogs carry sickness that our sheep could get. If our sheep get sick long enough, our sheep could die! Now do you like prairie dogs?

Emma

So you like prairie dogs? Well, I do not at all. They are pests. They destroy things such as grass, land, and crops. The ranchers or farmers get mad. The prairie dogs carry sickness. Their sickness can kill you. The prairie dogs also can break your leg and animals' legs and equipment with their holes. They dig holes, and that is how they break legs. How they break equipment is when the farmer or rancher is on their tractor, they fall in the hole. The wheel will go in, and the wheel will get damaged. It ruins the tractor. So that is why I don't like prairie dogs.

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