I am totally thrilled with the new technology that’s out there. Recently, “BB” has also moved up the technological list. For our past few meetings, he had been using his Hoofberry to contact me. Well, he finally upgraded and is now using a tInephone . The tInephone has a fairly elaborate set of applications that “BB” has become enamored with. I was somewhat surprised to get a text message from him requesting our quarterly meeting. He had an attachment that utilized the GPS coordinates and all I had to do was follow the pin that kept getting closer and closer as I drove out to meet him. I have to admit, I was fascinated by how well “BB” was adjusting to our new world. As I got closer however, I was treated to something that I never thought I would see in a million years. The whole hillside was covered with flickering candles. Mind you, I was miles from anything, and seeing a shimmering hillside really blew me away. I pulled off the road and parked under a stand of Ponderosa trees.
As soon as I got out of the truck, I could hear “BB” calling my name. “Get up here boy” he said, “I want you to take a video of this.” I walked up to “BB” and calmly asked “Okay “BB”, just what the heck is going on here? “ I could plainly see that there were hundreds of elk and all had candles that were lit and mounted in small rock piles all across the hill. The elk were swaying to some kind of rhythmic beat and I could tell they were pretty emotional about what was going on. “BB” just gave me that loopy grin of his and started with the explanation. “I saw a video clip on my tInephone about a recent meeting that was held at the Sheraton downtown. There were a bunch of people that were holding this candle light vigil for those damn horses. Seems that they don’t want a single horse to be injured or removed from the landscape of the west along with their runty half brothers that are called burros. I decided that if humans could do something that dumb, then maybe we could get a clip sent down to the Valley to show how mean and cruel it is to us elk that you very effectively remove us each year but are showing all this preferential treatment for an animal that was never on this continent until 500 years ago. We deserve the same treatment that those other animals get. We have our rights too!”
I have to admit, I was stumped. I remember getting a phone call from Ron Eichelberger asking me if I was planning on attending the candlelight vigil that was being held by the wild horse groups. We both knew that there was no way in hell I would go to the vigil. Science and logic have all pointed to the fact that sooner or later some wild horses and burros had to be culled off the land. You simply cannot keep a herd growing and growing year after year without bad results. The results have been landscapes that can no longer sustain massive amounts of animals. The BLM has done all that they could and have held round ups to remove some of the excessive amounts of animals. Arizona Game & Fish Director Larry Voyles testified in Washington D.C. that wild horses and burros have a tremendous impact on habitat and that they have to be removed from the areas that will not sustain any herd growth. BUT!!! The horse advocates don’t see it that way and they want more room and more animals on the ranges across the southwest. I was proud of “BB” for standing up for all the other animals that use the habitat. How could I explain to “BB” that elk can be hunted and horses cannot?
“Well “BB”, we live in the United States. This country does not serve horse meat in any restaurants. Wild horses are viewed as a symbol of the old west and people attach a tremendous amount of emotion to wild horses. Logic and science do not have any meaning to those folks. Anyone who really lives out here knows that we have to have a balance and that balance gets harder to maintain every year.” “BB” shook his huge head (he had a nice new growth of antlers starting by the way) and said, “Humans manage to screws things up all the time. If you served up a well done horse steak and a well done elk steak, I don’t think you could tell the difference. I want there to be horse hunts each fall. Why not get a trophy stallion hunt?” I knew that his simple logic was right on the mark. Again, I had no answers. He pulled out his tInephone and showed me where he had Googled up the new pledge of allegiance to horses. The writer is an individual named R.T. Fitch and it goes like this:
I pledge allegiance to the wild equines of the United States of America and to the icon for which they stand, one symbol, understood undeniable with liberty and freedom for all.
“I want you to take this pledge and make everyone put the word “Elk” in place of “Equines”. Then I want you to have everyone in the AES take this pledge.” “BB” was on a roll and I felt more than a little uncomfortable. I looked over the pledge and said,” “BB”, this stuff is a little too over the top for us to take to the public. We would be seen as just as loony as the horse folks are. I think a better way is to let folks know how wrong it is to love something to death like they are doing now. We know what they are trying to do and I don’t think it will ever get to the point where horses overrun an elk herd.” “BB” gave me a deep growl and said “Have you seen all the feral horses that now live all across the Rim? Don’t give me any feel-good stories right now. This could be big trouble.” I had to agree, horses are now totally unafraid of humans all across the units that “BB” and I travel. Given a 20 year period, I could see where the habitat could be so damaged that a great elk habitat will be degraded much like unit 4B is after the sheep drives. Finally, “BB” showed me some numbers that really hit home. “Here are some statistics that I also Googled up. China goes through over 400,000 tons of horse meat each year. Japan loves to eat them, Frenchmen swear by them and even Canadians like to eat them. Hello! Why not send them over to those countries. We don’t have to eat them, but if we can feed that many across other nations why not do it?” I stared at “BB” and could not defeat his logic. I know that his theory is right on. I also know that litigation would prevent any of his ideas from being fulfilled.
I knew I had to get back to the Valley and I walked with “BB” over to the truck. The impact of all the elk holding a vigil was profound and I felt more than a little sad. I turned to “BB” and said, “I know that sooner or later we will have to remove horses. Maybe we will have to file lawsuits, maybe we will have to try and battle with your emotions. But you have to know that we care deeply about all the wildlife and you in particular. We won’t let you down “BB”.”
The ride home let me have time to think more clearly. I often wonder what the future holds when I read something like the Equine Pledge of Allegiance. I wonder how all the wildlife professionals can have no impact on emotion. Then I truly get scared.