Rugged mountains at sunrise.
Text: The editorial voice of the Mountain Lion Foundation.


A plague on both their houses!

The latest controversy about Texans and wildlife, centers on the American buffalo, and the carnage a man with a gun can make when his societal values and attitudes towards animals are out of sync with modern America. In this instance, a ranch foreman in West Texas got irritated over the neighbor's buffalo herd wandering onto the wrong property, and over the course of a few days shot 51 of the animals and left their carcasses to rot under the hot Texas sun.

If this had occurred almost anywhere else, the man might now be facing charges of animal cruelty. But in Texas, buffaloes are classified as indigenous animals so they enjoy none of the protections of pets or livestock, and it may prove to be legal to shoot them once they are off their owner's property.

What the ranch foreman did is reprehensible. Killing 51 defenseless animals just because he was angry shouldn't be condoned anywhere in this world--much less America. But as commentator Paul Harvey would say, "Now for the rest of the story."

The buffalos that were slaughtered were not part of a noble experiment to reestablish a native species which once covered the western plains. They were part of a herd of 200 placid herbivores kept penned up on 13,000 acres of rolling plains for the pleasure of trophy hunters. The QB Ranch, the buffalos' owner, is a big, fenced in hunting facility that makes anywhere from $2,000 to $3,500 for every buffalo their clients kill. That top figure, for a "Trophy Bull," is the same amount they charge so-called trophy hunters for killing a mountain lion on the ranch.

Unfortunately, both species are fairly easy to kill. The buffalo will just stand there not understanding that its life is threatened. And once the specially trained, pack of hunting hounds runs the cougar up a tree, it has no more chance of surviving than that poor dumb buffalo.

Sometimes it's hard to see the difference between the man who will slaughter 51 animals just for spite, and the man who makes his money by letting others pretend they have accomplished something noble and dangerous.



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