To The Point

by Caren Cowan

Those Pesky Black Helicopters . . .


Some have thought that I might be overly suspicious and skeptical of nearly everything. Given the news out of Washington, D.C. the past few weeks, I feel completely vindicated . . . they really are after us.

Sadly, most Americans are completely unaware of the actions of the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice and the White House. They have been referred to as “low information” voters. It makes you wonder what it will take to wake them up.

Nothing but the truth?

Perhaps more frustrating is the total absence of truth in the media. The horse issue remains front and center both locally and nationally. When I went to journalism school you were supposed to at least try and report both sides of a story and/or be able to document what you report. As I have frequently pointed out, that apparently is not the case anymore.

The last few weeks there have been two stories of extreme cruelty — to the truth — on the horse subject. One aired on NBC nationally, the other on CBS locally. NBC’s TODAY Show did a “report” on wild horses. As much as it pains me, I will have to give them some credit. They apparently were talking about horses recognized and “wild” by the federal government.

The story was about rounding up these horses because of their over-population and harmful impacts on the environment. Viewers were warned that some of the footage was graphic and could be upsetting. What they should have warned anyone concerned with reality.

There were some unpleasant scenes of horse roundups. The reality is that Bambi doesn’t live in an old growth forest being cared for by rabbits. Mother Nature isn’t always sunlight and roses. There are harsh realities that at some point must be faced.

Much more upsetting to me was the woman in western wear not addressing the reality that wild, feral abandoned and unwanted horses are starving and dying of thirst all over the West.

Instead she professed the need for horses to remain with their “families” and being allowed to die of old age on the range. Hasn’t she bothered to learn that horses are not monogamous? That they run in herds, not families? That studs have bands of mares and they kill each other in fights over those bands? That young studs are kicked out the band?

Rather than focusing on reality of the state of the range due to the ongoing drought or the laws that say “excess animals” means wild free-roaming horses or burros (1) which have been removed from an area by the Secretary pursuant to application law or, (2) which must be removed from an area in order to preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship in that area” the “reporter” questioned on rancher. He noted that he didn’t want the horses on the land because it reduced his ability to run cattle. I am sure what he said is true, but he failed to mention the condition of many wild horses or the damage they are doing to the range.

So much for journalism.

Closer to home . . .

The local CBS news is no better. They ran a “report” that alleged that there had been a skyrocketing escalation of horse theft in the area any time that a horse slaughter plant opened, putting all horses at risk. Their “expert” was a woman who in the past has sworn on “her dog’s life” that she was telling the truth to the New Mexico Livestock Board.

It is worth noting that several years ago when the woman first got publicly involved with the horse issue, she came to the NMCGA office and told us that all she wanted was just a few populations of 200 horses each. When it was pointed out that ranchers had been told the same story when elk were reintroduced several decades ago, yet today elk populations are in the thousands, her solution was that ranchers could start shooting any over population of horses. That was more than 10 years ago.

She has since started a group call WHOA — the Wild Horse Observers Association. The group and her passion are based around the feral horses that have strayed in the Placitas area and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands from surrounding lands.

Several horses were gathered many years ago. Although she thinks those horses may have been shipped to Mexico for slaughter, she and her supporters think the animals should roam freely on private property and anywhere else they may want to be.

Trouble is that the horses in the area continue to stray and to reproduce to the point that many Placitas residents have had enough. There are car accidents involving these horses, thankfully, thus far, with only the cost of property damage. Sooner or later there will be a human cost if the horses are allowed to continue their presence in a human populated area even if it is suburban.

Our responsibility

With all that said, we are not good at telling our story. As you may have noticed, we have been encouraging our elected officials to let the Roswell slaughter plant open — with visible success.

I had an email from a lady who couldn’t understand why we want to eat horse meat and why we weren’t working on other solutions. In my abrupt fashion, I responded that we aren’t encouraging the eating of horse meat, but had no right to dictate what others choose to eat. I further noted that our concern was a humane end of life, not starvation or dying of thirst as is happening RIGHT NOW.

I probably could have left out the “who cares what happens to the meat after death.” But if Hillary Clinton can get away with it when talking about the loss of human life, why should I have to restrain myself? (you don’t have to answer that.)

The why is that I promptly got an email back calling me “almost rude” and really cold. I had asked the lady what solutions she had. She didn’t have any but was willing to work on them. It did not seem to her that anyone was doing anything other than proposing slaughter as the preferred option.

That night I took the time to send her a long email about everything we ARE doing to try and figure out a way out of this problem.

New Mexico Livestock Board Chairman Bill Sauble and New Mexico Department Director / Secretary Jeff Witte put together an unwanted horse working group at least a year ago that has met several time to wrestle with the issue. That group is extremely diverse ranging from NMCGA to Animal Protection of New Mexico and the New Mexico Horse Council and has met several times during the past year.

There hasn’t been a suggestion yet that wouldn’t erode private property rights and elevate horses to a status well above livestock. The solution of choice is to pass a law to require all horses in the state individually identified with a micro chip so that the person not caring for their horse can be identified and prosecuted.

That is followed closed by the suggestion that a tax be put on feed that RESPONSIBLE owners purchase to help pay for those who are irresponsible. Then we have the suggested mandated spaying and neutering to prevent anyone from breeding horses without paying a high cost of permits.

While I seriously object to each of these suggestions, even if we didn’t, how long would it take to put any of them into action? What good will they do to help the tens of thousands of starving horses in New Mexico TODAY?

The “swear on my dog’s life” expert challenges that number, but it has been confirmed and documented by many sources including the Navajo Nation and the BLM.

When I explained these facts to my email pal, I got a nice “thank you” back. Note to self . . . we need to take the time to explain everything to those who do not deal with this issues and crises on a daily basis. We are contributing to that “low information.”

On that note . . .

Our efforts to correct the course of the leadership at New Mexico State University (NMSU) paid off early in May when the Board of Regents selected former Governor Garrey Carruthers, Ph.D. as the president of the institution. We in agriculture have been liberal with advice to the Regents and we need to say thank you for hearing us and taking action.

President Carruthers fits to a tee the requirements NMCGA saw as necessary to put NMSU back on the right track. We look forward to working with him and the Regents as NMSU takes its’ rightful place on the land grant university map.

How can you worship Mother Earth . . .

and have no respect for Mother Nature?

We have seen another re-emergence of the term “Earth First.” Not from the openly radical environmental group that has undergone many reincarnations over the past two decades at least not openly,  but from a backed group vowing to stop the ravages of climate change on earth. The campaign entitled Re-Inventing People-Powered Politics has been fully embraced by several Albuquerque area legislators who are looking for support to take the agenda to the New Mexico Legislature in 2015.

They aim to bring back the coyote hunting ban as well as the trapping ban and probably a whole lot more. Everyone needs to keep an eye the “progressive” movement underway.

As a “denier,” I believe that it is fairly arrogant to think that man has the ability to affect the climate . . . but the term global warming wasn’t selling so the radicals had to come up something else.

Apparently because the climate does change several times a year, that it seemed to be something easy to sell to the people of the world. Proponents were right. The sell has been easy.

No one has taken into account that perhaps Mother Nature is the controller of Mother Earth But even consideration of that theory doesn’t support an ability to regulate dust or the regulation of the kind and size of car that we drive. Nor does it support the use of the cheapest energy supply available.

Mid Year Just A Few Days Away!

The 2013 Mid Year Convention is slated for June 16 through 18 at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque. The room block is open with the great rate of $99. Please call 505/245-7100 to reserve yours! The meeting gathering NMCGA, Wool Growers, Federal Lands Council, CowBelles and the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau has a tremendous line up of speakers and topics

Please reserve your room and register today!