D  e  s  e  r  t     E  x  p  o  s  u  r  e  April 2005

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Feathers Fly

It seems like the anti-cockfighting crowd ("Crying Fowl," March) have more sympathy for chickens than they do for people. With child and spousal abuse rampant in lower-income areas, the cost of living going up and no decent jobs to be had, should we be worried about chickens or human beings?

Think about how much time, money and effort are being wasted on telling the people of New Mexico what they can or can't do with their birds. Our fellow Americans are sacrificing their lives in Iraq. And cockfights are the issue of the day. Get a grip, people!

If you want to make a difference, help out a kid who's in trouble, put some time and money into the community. Don't worry yourself over what people are doing with their chickens. It's really none of your business.

And as far as celebrity animal-rights people like Pamela Anderson or Rue McLanahan go, when was the last time they lived in a place like Chaparral? If they did, you'd probably see them blowing off steam at a cockfight, too. It's too easy for the rich and famous to take up some high-falutin' cause, because they don't have any other problems to deal with.

On your way to liberate a chicken, you're liable to pass by more than a few houses where women and children are being abused. Animal-rights people want us to ban cockfights. I say, get our priorities straight and mind our own business.

David Pedigo
Silver City


Trap Line

I read with interest the letter in March's Desert Exposure from Phil Ratzlaff about his friend's unfortunate encounter with an out-of-stater's trap line ("Trapping Encounter"), as I too have run into set traps while hiking with my dogs. Fortunately, I have yet to find a live animal caught in one, although my dog accidentally tripped one the other day. How he did this without getting caught, I'll never know. I tried to open the jaws without success, and found too that the trap was attached deep into the ground by a heavy chain. If my pet had gotten his leg or paw into the trap, how would I ever have gotten him out and to a vet? And would I have been subject to prosecution and abuse for tampering with the trap? These traps were all—in separate areas—within a 10-minute drive from downtown Silver City. Some were only paces away from the wildlife refuge near Fort Bayard—although still on National Forest land—where dozens of people walk with their dogs every day.

Isn't it time for the thinking people of New Mexico to do something to halt this barbaric practice? It's obviously a non-discriminatory way of capturing animals, when coatimundi and squirrels and pets are as apt to be attracted to and snared by them, as the targeted quarry. It's also horrifyingly cruel to those trapped. Trappers are required to check their trap lines once a day. Where are the resources to assure compliance? And can you imagine lying even 24 hours with a crushed leg before someone puts you out of your misery?

A few years ago in Arizona a proposition eliminating trapping on public lands passed easily. While gathering ballot signatures, the most common remark I heard was surprise that this cruel and brutal practice was actually still legal. Mr. Ratzlaff had the courage to bring the subject to the people's attention; now is the time to pursue this and bring this bloody practice to an end.

These are PUBLIC lands: our lands. Yet a handful of people (how many trapping licenses are out there?) for small gain are rendering our land dangerous—for us, for our pets, and for the wildlife that most of us value more as living creatures than as pelts, and whose home it truly is. Trapping for dollars is an antiquated relic of the past. It's time to remove these laws from our books and so comply with the sensitivities of the 21st century.

Sandra Gardner
Silver City

Editor's note: Desert Exposure's in-depth look at trapping, pro and con, appeared in the September 2004 issue.


Small World

I have been meaning to write for quite some time to let you know how much I enjoy Desert Exposure. Here in southern New Mexico, our selection of local newspapers is quite limited and pathetic. We have become accustomed to (but do not like) poorly written and confusing articles, lousy grammar and syntax, and a complete lack of in-depth research.

I was heartily impressed with your special section on drunk driving ("Taking the Fourth," February). This is a fantastic piece of work. It should be required reading for all of our state legislators and residents.

As I said, I have long been a Desert Exposure admirer, but something in the March edition really startled me. Imagine my surprise when I turned to page 12 ("Wine Country Safari") to see the picture of a house that is about a mile as the crow flies from the house I grew up in!

I was born and raised in Healdsburg, Calif., but have not lived there for over 20 years. I knew that it was going to you-know-where in a handbasket when one of the gas stations labeled its pumps as "Rosé Regular" and "Chablis Unleaded." As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up. From there it devolved quickly into something I found extremely unattractive—a haven for affluent yuppies; I fled.

When I was a kid, the plaza square was surrounded by an old-time hardware store, a redneck bar, and a Mexican bar. There was also a shoe store run by two elderly, bachelor brothers who had to climb a ladder (which was suspended on a rail that ran the length of the store) to get the shoes you wanted.

You certainly couldn't tell by looking at it now, but a mere 40 years ago Healdsburg was the prune capital of the world. Before my time, the official town logo included the slogan "Healdsburg, the Buckle of the Prune Belt." My maternal grandfather (rest his soul) was an Italian immigrant. He spent his life growing prunes and grapes, and making the very best zinfandel wine in the whole world. His son, my uncle, has been wine master of Beringer for about 25 years.

So thanks for the trip down memory lane. I do miss the place occasionally and still have much of my family there. But I wouldn't move back, even if I could afford to (which I can't). It is way too upscale and it depresses me each time I return. Who was it who said that you can't go back? I do have many fond memories of the area: soaking in the beautiful hot springs that now bubble away beneath Lake Sonoma, the beautiful countryside covered now by mega-housing developments and starter castles, and so the list goes on.

Thanks so much for providing us here in the boonies with some imaginative, intelligent, and well-written reading material!

Kara Naber

Let us hear from you! Write Desert Exposure Letters, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134 or email letters@desertexposure.com. Letters are subject to editing for style and length.

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