To The Point

by Caren Cowan

A Horse is a Horse of Course . . . 

Of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is a companion animal. I am probably dating myself with this partial tune, but I guess I will have to own up to my age at some point.

The first mistake was probably ever letting dogs and cats be labeled as “companion” animals. However given my relationship with my dog(s) and even a few cats over time, it has always seemed a perfectly reasonable term. The advent of “pocket” or “purse” dogs gave a whole new meaning to the term. We have first-hand experience with that seven-pound Marlin and three-pound Dash, the buddies my sister Connie rolls with.

The issue comes down to responsible private property ownerships whether that is animate or inanimate. Because of those who are irresponsible everyone is penalized. In Albuquerque and other urban areas it is illegal to have an intact dog unless you have a permit. It is illegal to breed that permitted animal unless you get a puppy permit. Why?

The theory is that:

  • Intact dogs are responsible for more bite incidents
  • Animal control expends more resources on intact dogs and cats because they roam more
  • Animal shelters spend more on intact dogs and cats because they are homeless and because they are relinquished for behavioral problems

And what are we spending on animal shelters? According to a feasibility study entitled Creating a fund to Aid Low-Income Households in Sterilizing, Vaccinating and Spaying or Neutering Companion Animals, “New Mexico’s Euthanasia Agencies (most animal shelters) have a total budget of about $27 million per year.” This study was prepared in response to a memorial out of the 2011 Legislature.

In a state where some 25 percent of children go to bed hungry, that number is staggering. But it gets better. Albuquerque animal shelters have such an over population of dogs this month that they are waiving the usual $50 fee when you “adopt” a dog. However, you must undergo a background check and participate in counseling courses before you can take your dog home.

Imagine if that were required before people have babies.

So what is it going to take to fix this problem? At least another $2 to 2.5 million per year for at least five years, according to this report.

And how are we going to raise that additional money? By adding a spay/neuter fee added onto the current inspection fees on pet foods under the commercial feed registration and inspection program run by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. The report finds that this is equitable because pet owners (not just the irresponsible ones), not the general public, pays the tax and because the report finds that this tax would be affordable — at least in the author’s budget.

But why all this talk about dogs and cats, wasn’t the topic horses? If you think that these ideas will apply only to dogs and cats, think again. As solutions are being sought for the unwanted horse population in New Mexico, terms like population control, mandatory neutering and feed tax are already out there.

Animal rights groups have already determined that horses are their purview. A new horse lobbying/political action fund group was recently registered in New Mexico as well as a few other states. Word is that the dreaded Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has hired a new high profile point person to address just the dog and horse issues in New Mexico.

These people think New Mexico is ripe for the pickin’.

Where the deer and antelope roam

The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF) has a new proposal for the management of pronghorn antelope in the southeastern part of the state. Patterned after the deer program, this new proposal would provide for all private land owner tags to be sold over the counter. Those tags could only be used with written permission of the landowner being hunted on.

Draw tags would allow hunting on any legally accessible state or federal land. This provision is similar to the current rule, unless a landowner is signed up with the Department’s A-Plus Program.

Details on the proposal are not complete and comments are being sought by the NMDGF. To get a copy of the proposal visit and find the antelope line.

It is our understanding that by October 1, 2012 there will be a final draft of the new regulations on the website. That proposal may be acted upon at the November 1, 2012 Game Commission meeting in Raton.

If you do comment, please share those comments with the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) via email at nmcga@nmagriculture.org or fax to 505/842-1766.

The Department is also considering unitization plans to block up lands for hunting. That proposal can be found at the same link, and again NMCGA is interested in your input.

The Association will be holding the Fall Board meeting on September 26, 2012 at the Marriott Pyramid North in the morning where changes in policy could be made if necessary.

The NMDA will be hosting a National Environmental Policy Act/Cooperative Agency training aimed at governmental entities including county commissioners, sheriffs and attorneys as well as soil conservation districts and others that afternoon. The day will wrap up with a Candidates’ Roundup Reception. There are already almost 20 candidates confirmed to attend.

Remember that all NMCGA Board meetings are open to the general membership. If you would like to attend any or all of these events, please RSVP to the office at 505/247-0584 or via the email above.

But regulations may not matter . . .

If some groups get their way, according to the The Telegraph in the United Kingdom (UK) (www.telegraph.co.uk ) “‘Shooting porn’ should be on the top shelf say animal rights groups.

Popular magazines about country sports such as Shooting Times and The Field should be on the top shelf alongside pornography, according to the country’s largest animal rights organization.”

A bit of an explanation if you, like me, are not accustomed to searching for pornographic magazines — at least in England they are on the top shelf of magazine displays where children (and short people) cannot see them. My knowledge on the subject was getting those brown paper-wrapped Playboys addressed to my father at the post office. It didn’t take long to learn how to slip the wrappers off, read the jokes and put it back in the wrapper with the mail before Daddy got home.

He then promptly hid them in the bottom of his underwear drawer. I guess he never thought much about who put the clean underwear in that drawer.

At any rate, back to the UK. In a story by environmental correspondent Louise Gray she writes, “In a new report Animal Aid claims that the “lurid, pro-violence content” of country sports magazines could have a “corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds”.

The report, “Gunning For Children: How the gun lobby recruits young blood”, argues that magazines promoting guns should be put on the top shelf alongside pornography and tobacco and banned for sale to under-18s. It claims the magazines sold in . . . supermarkets show pictures of young children holding up or standing over shot pheasants, rabbits, foxes and pigeons and “glorifies” cruelty.

Andrew Tyler, the Director of Animal Aid, said that if people do not learn to shoot by the age of 14 the chances of them subsequently getting involved rapidly diminish.

“Children who kill animals for sport in urban areas are considered dysfunctional and a social menace. Yet Britain has a gun lobby, composed of well-connected groups, that devotes considerable resources towards encouraging children to take up guns at a young age.

“Their actions are damaging not just to wildlife but also to the emotional development of young people.” Professor Peter Squires of the University of Brighton Children said “Shooting magazines celebrating the casual cruelty” of shooting wild animals – a kind of “shooting porn” – should not be on sale to children and young people (under 18),” he said.

“Shops and retail outlets selling such magazines should position them both out of reach and sight of children and young people.”

He also said shooting organizations should not be allowed to educate children in schools about country sports.

“Fostering healthy and environmentally-conscious attitudes to nature and wildlife conservation is fundamentally inconsistent with deriving pleasure and enjoyment from shooting animals for fun,” he added.

If you don’t believe that this could happen here in the not too distant future, please start reading from the top again.

Meanwhile back in USA

The WildEarth Guardians (WEG) continue to wage war on life in the woods with their suit in Federal District Court against the NMDGF regarding trapping rules in the Mexican wolf recovery area. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the issue is wolf recovery or even wolves being trapped. This is about circumventing the intent of Congress via the courts and controlling land and the people who live on it and from it — which includes every man, woman and child of us.

The WEG’s latest media blitz attacks the Department for spending money defending itself in the suit. The NMDGF is not just defending itself in this suit, they are protecting the integrity of the Endangered Species Act and its’ 10J provision that allows for the management of “experimental, non-essential” populations.

When a species is viable, the 10J rule has provided for the restoration of the species without harming families and economies. A perfect example is the Aplomado Falcon that is being managed under 10J and is recovering at a rate of about 100 times faster than if critical habitat had been designated and we waited for birds to migrate up from Mexico and beyond.

The Department is also protecting every state’s right to manage wildlife within its borders.

If you happened to see the story on the issue in the Las Cruces Sun-Times, the reporter’s interpretation of my comments wasn’t exactly correct. I don’t consider that any lawsuit “amounts to little.” And he left out the part about trapping being the least of the wolves’ problems when you consider that there have been 50 or 60 of them out there for nearly 15 years and they have reproduced enough to create a population.

However, given that the writer was unaware that coyotes were a predator to livestock, the story could have been much worse. He thought coyotes lived on skunks and squirrels. If you ask Scott Bidegain, he might add porcupines to the list.

In closing . . .

Remember to vote early and make sure that EVERYONE you know does the same. Let’s not let the polls dictate our future. Rural New Mexicans have the power to rule the day if they exercise their right to vote. n