[RE: Chewing the Fat, “Meet Joe Sausage,” Oct. 5-11, 2006, and Chowtown, “The Best New Food Finds of 2006,” Jan. 4-10, 2007] My years of sausage-eating experience had left me feeling like I don't need much more sausage. Sausage is usually made of low-quality meat without much taste, so it receives an overabundance of similarly low-quality spices, and it began to seem pointless to eat more.
I wanted to thank Laura Marrich for her inspired words about the North Valley's sausage and ravioli artist, Joe S. Sausage. I would not have been motivated to seek out his small specialty shop without her esteemed recommendation. Kudos to the Alibi for keeping us informed about locally-produced food options, and kudos to Joe for creating sausages with such full, multi-layered flavor.
Ranchers on the Line
Kate Trainor should be applauded for her comprehensive article “Return of the Big, Bad Wolf” [Feature, Jan. 11-17]. Trainor succinctly reports the failure of the Mexican wolf reintroduction program in the Southwest and accurately describes the major issues facing this decade-long debate—a program which fails and is blighted in our state. Perhaps the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) should hire Ms. Trainor to successfully implement a reintroduction program that has succeeded magnificently with other states and organizations.
National Geographic and the Discovery Channel have broadcast superb programs on the noble nature of the wolf and their enormous contribution to the larger health and well-being of the wildlife population. The Italian government has understood clearly for decades the benefit of training special breeds of herding dogs to protect their livestock. The Defenders of Wildlife have worked successfully and comprehensively with ranchers in the American West as they've reintroduced the wolf population. So why is it that the Rabenaus are having such a difficult time managing and protecting their livestock? Are they living off the compensation and subsidies provided by their reported cattle loss due to wolves they haven't even seen? And the U.S. government? Given the nature of wolves—the Rabenaus' story doesn't add up. Or perhaps they are doing something terribly misguided in understanding the nature of both species, cattle and wolves?
The big, bad wolf is not the problem. It is the lack of understanding, knowledge and organization that fails all parties involved in the Southwest reintroduction program. In a cry to please ranchers, what are we doing? Most ranchers are subsidized in an industry that largely fails on paper as a business, if it weren't for subsidies. The health of cattle, our food chain and the natural order of the food chain is not in balance. There is a solid and proven record of resolution for all parties involved when it comes to reintroduction. It's been done before. So why not in New Mexico?
It's time that ranchers in the Southwest stop being defensive, live appropriately as ranchers are doing near Yosemite with wolves and the FWS starts to do the job we pay them to do as protectors of the natural order of wildlife.
Wolves aren't bad. We're just ignorant, uninformed and lazy.
Big, Bad Ideas
[RE: Feature, “Return of the Big Bad Wolf,” Jan. 11-17] Who's afraid of a big, bad wolf? While I do have sympathy for the Rabenaus who lost 20 head of cattle, I am far more concerned about the big picture, as we are undeniably in the midst of the largest mass extinction of species since the Ice Age, caused by ideas. That's right. Ideas. Ideas like manifest destiny, human supremacy and that the natural world was a masterpiece created by God for his likenesses to use up like a box of Kleenex. These are ideas which will eventually bury us all and belong in the rubbish heap of history. People need to start coming up with some different ideas, but fast, because at this point in history, we need biodiversity more than we need cheap burgers.
I don't blame the ranchers, can't fault anyone for making an honest living. I don't blame the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) either for trying to make the best of a bad situation. I blame the ideas. As long as we continue to desanctify nature and attempt to exert control, we will continue along the road to self-destruction. Nature didn't put cattle in the Southwest—people did. Nature put cattle in the Midwestern plains, they were called buffalo, but we the people decided to exterminate them, raise a domestic species in the Southwest and then kill all of the wolves in that area that might pose a threat to them. It is boneheaded to think we can control and regulate nature. We may be smart, but we will never be that smart.
I can think of nothing more boneheaded than the idea that a species that sent a man to the Moon can't get it together to preserve its own food supply! So who's got the new ideas we need? Clearly, the days of the pioneers are over. Might I suggest the Bioneers?
[RE: News Feature, “Intolerable,” Dec. 28, 2006-Jan. 3, 2007] Your article on the Albuquerque animal shelter was a jolting explanation as to why I received no help finding the owners of a purebred dog—stolen from its owners' yard and dumped in Old Town—and a friend, who is disabled, was told it was up to her to catch and transport a stray cat to the shelter.
I have worked on animal issues in New Mexico for more than 15 years and around the region for 30 years, but had not fully understood the gravity of the shelter situation until this article. That a major Southwestern city's shelter is an "animal Auschwitz" speaks appallingly of the lack of accountability and progressiveness of elected officials. This contrasts sharply with Santa Fe's state-of-the-art shelter run by professionals fully trained in the complicated science of running a shelter and constructively approaching animal issues, including education and the imperative of screening those who wish to adopt pets.
With the possibility of state funding, sought by Gov. Bill Richardson, for animal shelters, our goal should be to bring all metro area shelters into an era where they are part of the solution to animal problems, not themselves part of the problem in a state with too-often Third World conditions for animals.
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