NYT on NM Cockfighting

I am sorry, but I think this article on NM’s anti- cockfight crusade can be quoted to make its own argument against the ban.

“After two weeks of preparation, 150 officers, backed up by a helicopter, slipped into this sleepy desert town. Their focus was not illegal immigration or drug smuggling, but a less pressing crime: cockfighting.”


“Some police officers in this state say the pressure for stepped-up enforcement from the animal rights lobby has become so intense that resources are being diverted from more serious crimes, like drunken driving and amphetamine abuse.

“For years the state’s governor, Bill Richardson, a Democrat, avoided the issue. In 2006, Jay Leno ridiculed him on the “Tonight Show,” for saying there were strong arguments on both sides of the issue…. But in March 2007, Mr. Richardson signed the measure outlawing the sport. He was widely criticized as only getting behind the legislation because he was then running for president.

“You can’t go on the national stage and have people find out you have no problem with a bloody sport,” said Sheriff Darren White of Bernalillo County, where officers issued citations for two cockfighting misdemeanors in a raid on June 21.”

[Ed. note: White is a known AR advocate who is against hunting and for mandatory spay neuter among other things.]

““New Mexico is on the verge of having a modern culture,” said Heather Ferguson, the legislative director for Animal Protection of New Mexico, an animal-rights lobbying group. Ms. Ferguson said a newly established animal cruelty hot line was receiving about 90 calls every two weeks.”

“As public support rises, so do costs. The Chaparral raid cost the four counties involved more than $25,000, officials said. And several high-ranking police officers, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to talk to reporters, said that while they oppose cockfighting they are frustrated at how politicians are disproportionately emphasizing the crime.”

“We don’t even investigate misdemeanors on other crimes,” one officer said. “We laugh at these investigations.” Of one cockfighting raid he said: “We wasted $10,000 on a recent misdemeanor. I’d rather use that for a D.U.I. checkpoint and take 20 people off the road in the three hours and save lives over chickens. I feel good when we save chickens, but whoop-de-do, a misdemeanor?”


“For 16 years, Richard and Louisa Lopez operated a 310-seat cockfighting arena at their farm in Luis Lopez, N.M. The $30,000 they earned annually from the operation helped subsidize their farm expenses, and send their children to college. Last month, they used the arena for their family reunion and a baby shower.

” “We don’t have money to buy diesel sometimes,” Mr. Lopez said. “And this is the place that kept my farm going.”

“In January, the courts dismissed a suit by the New Mexico Gamefowl Association claiming economic devastation. Ms. Gojkovich, the animal control investigator, was hardly sympathetic.

“You need to go find a job at Wal-Mart,” she said.”

Or maybe sell out to developers? THAT’d be Green…

I believe Ms. Gojkovitch is a recent immigrant BTW.

Also BTW: all “seized” roosters are immediately killed. And not eaten. I’m sure they enjoy that more than fighting.

For the record, I do not keep chickens, nor do I support dogfighting. HT Annie H.

In related developments, Peculiar links to an article with an interesting quote:

“”Now that Plum Creek is getting out of the timber business, we’re kind of missing the loggers,” said Ray Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit that studies land management in the West. “A clear-cut will grow back, but a subdivision of trophy homes, that’s going to be that way forever.””

Oh well- as Moro says in a comment, “Trophy homes don’t last forever either, heh heh heh.” Nature bats last.

Kent Christopher RIP plus Sage Synchronicity

My old friend Kent Christopher died in a skiing accident at Targhee a couple of weeks ago. He was only 54, a great falconer and a vitally important voice for the sage grouse and the sage ecosystem. I had known him since he was a college kid in Maine.

I last saw him when frequent commentor Matt Miller of the Nature Conservancy brought him, Tom Cade of the Peregrine Fund, Ted Kerasote, Libby and me to see the sage grouse dance on their leks in Idaho.

THe same day that he died, frequent guest- blogger Cat Urbigkit sent me a wonderful bunch of Sage grouse courting pics– I may post some later. Turns out she was at Targhee when Kent made his last flight.

In the local paper, his obit said that ” Christopher was one of the organizers of Dubois Grouse Days, an annual celebration of sage grouse in eastern Idaho. He also helped establish the North American Grouse Partnership, a group that lobbied for the conservation of grouse. He was also a nationally known falconer. “He was one of those champions for wildlife who never tired,” said Terry Thomas, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist who worked with Christopher for more than a decade. “He did whatever he could to help. Always. Every time I met up with him, I was more impressed.” “

Matt added, in a note to me:

“A very sad loss for us in Idaho. Kent was a great man and so passionate about falconry, sagebrush country and sage grouse. He put conservation on the ground–some of the most successful grouse conservation projects in the West happened on his watch.”

For more on one of Kent’s two favorite birds (can you guess the other? go to this post at John Carlson’s Prairie Ice.


Last week’s walk photos, as promised.

Libby on the “Rio” Salado. It can be frightening in summer floods, believe it or not, but right now we can walk in it.

Desert Bighorn tracks in the bottom of the box– rounder in front than mule deers’.

The proprietors of Casa Q with desert tools– pack, Swaro binocs, Kimber .45.

Photos by Daniela Imre.

The Box

Spring weather led us out in search of a legendary canyon this weekend. It is only twelve or so miles away, but all of this is off- pavement and a lot is through a river bed. Finally , you have to cross two ranches and I wasn’t sure what “jurisdiction” the box itself was in. Turns out that you have to go through the ranch house yard of friends to enter the arroyo, so we asked and now know it is theirs, and have premission to go any time. The road is beyond bad even when it isn’t soft sand, but the old truck is up to it. The Box is worth the visit and we’ll be back for birds and bugs and herps when it is warmer, probably without dogs– looks very snaky, and there was a coyote tail hung from a tree as a bobcat trap lure as well.

Legendary? The ill- fated Confederate band that invaded New Mexico during the Civil War lost a CANNON there when climbing out! As there is no pavement for twelve miles even today and there were probably dirt roads no closer than 40 miles then, and the box is 300 feet deep in its deepest part, that took some doing! (It was found by a ranch hand in the fifties.)

We saw redtails, Cooper’s hawks, a roughleg doubtless on its way north, and a harrier. We also saw a desert bighorn on the rim, which had the bad manners to vanish before Libby could take its photo. I have known there is a little band in the badlands to the north, around Ladron peak, but this is the first time I have ever seen one. Some country around here, between permission and geology, is just damned hard to get into. But we’ll be back!


Entering from upstream.

The sheep was on the highest point here for what seemed like a long time. Libby: “I wanted to look at it more than take its picture!”

Slanting beds of rock on the floor.

The Almaty Kids and me in the deepest part. There is a whole other vertical wall above this”top”.

Coming to the bottom.

Expect more posts from this area!

Joe Brown

Chas has a link to an excellent piece on the fine and neglected western writer JPS (Joseph Paul Summers) Brown.

I met Joe Brown when we were both signing books at a sadly defunct bookstore in Tucson. I had brought a copy of his Forests of the Night, which could give Cormac McCarthy a run for his money, for him to sign.

Here is what he wrote:

And what he looked like when he wrote the book:

He regaled us with tales that could have come out of the old west but for the fact that they took place in the Sixties, of border cattle smuggling and Mexican bordellos (including one about a prominent local rancher we knew).

I am delighted that UNM Press has published an autobiography of his childhood, and will soon be releasing a new novel. Among other things, he just plain deserves it. And it gives me hope.

The Ranch

We often speak of “The Ranch”– Lee Henderson’s acreage of miles of high desert grassland, canyon, and foothill, located on La Jencia Plain under the Magdalenas and not touching pavement on any side. It is an idael place to run dogs and fly falcons. I thought you might like to see a few pix.

Here is his house.

Me, walking with the pack.

Larissa, the brat:

And Lee himself, showing a print Vadim Gorbatov signed to him, of quail through the windshield of our car, on the ranch.

Little Red Riding Hood Was Right

It seems an article of faith in American environmental circles that wolves are harmless. While (until recently) there was no record of modern North American wolves harming anyone, a bit of research shows this to be an anomalous situation. Wolves of the exact same species preyed on humans in Europe and Russia; wolves even smaller than ours eat humans in India to this day.

The recent death of a young man in Canada raised the possibility of wolf- human predation. Eminent mammalogist Dr. Valerius Geist was charged with investigating the incident. His conclusions, soon to be released, are not comforting.

Do not misunderstand me here, or Val. I believe that wolves are wonderful top- of- the- food chain predators, and ecosystems are healthier for their presence. I can thrill to a howl in the night. But attitudes must be realistic, and wolves should be hunted to keep them wary of humans. Wolves that become habituated, that hang around humans and their livestock in broad daylight, are a disaster waiting to happen.

Dr. Geist has written a long document analysing both the particular incident and pointing out signs of imminent danger. Let me quote a bit from both. First, from the abstract:

“The politically correct view about wolves, currently vehemently and dogmatically defended, is that wolves are “harmless” and of no danger to humans. This view arose from the early research of eminent North American biologists who, confronted by historical material contradictory to their experiences, greatly mistrusted such. Due to language, political and cultural barriers they could access such at best in part, but they were nevertheless convinced that the old view of wolves, as enshrined in Grimm’s fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood was incorrect and based on ill founded myths, fears and superstitions. They were greatly aided in this by premature conclusions about free-living and captive wolves, as well as by a brilliant literary prank by a renowned Canadian author and humorist, which illustrated wolves as harmless mouse eaters. While scientists quickly caught on, they nevertheless welcomed the opposition to the Little Red Riding Hood myth. They pointed to the undeniable fact that wolves killed no human in North America in the 20th Century. This did not, however, reflect on the nature of wolves, but rather on circumstances: wolves were eradicated or severely prosecuted over much of the continent, North Americans were well armed and quickly removed misbehaving wolves where such were still present, while hunted wolves are exceedingly shy and avoid humans. The view of the “harmless” wolf was greatly welcomed by the communist party of Russia, which ever since coming to power suppressed accounts of man-killing wolves. During and after the Second World War such censorship intensified, as was only disclosed after the fall of the communist rule in Russia. The reason for such suppression was to obscure the link between lethal wolf attacks and the disarming of the civilian population during the war. Wolves quickly exploited the defenselessness of villagers, leading to many fatal attacks on humans. When Russian scientists disclosed this, their translations in the west were suppressed and their authority and motives questioned by environmental organizations and some scientists.”


“It is even more ironic that, while wolf biologists stoutly denied dangers from wolves and failed to develop any understanding of the conditions under which wolves were harmless or dangerous, their counterparts studying urban coyotes did just that. They described a progression of behaviors, which predicts when coyotes would attack children. Wolves follow much the same progression. It can be divided into seven steps with increasing risk to humans, culminating with attacks on humans. Such a progression can be developed from historical material as well as from current attacks by wolves on humans in North America. The fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood is thus based in very real historical experiences in central Europe. In addition to targeted attacks, wolves can mistakenly charge humans. The politically correct myth of the harmless wolf is being defended with a number of lethal fallacies as well as by wrongly invoking the prestige of science. In practice it is a lethal myth and the tragic death of 22-year-old Kenton Carnegie on November the 8th 2005 in northern Saskatchewan, is a case in point. He had no authoritative warning. He was killed by wolves, which, protected from hunting, were not merely habituated to people through the use of a garbage dump, but had already mounted a first exploratory attack on humans, which was narrowly defeated. Against a pack of wolves, a lone man has no chance.”

From the conclusions:

“As I have shown, wolves signal impending attacks on people a long time before it happens. They act very much like their smaller cousin, the coyote. Yet the vehemence with which the myth of the “benign wolf” is defended by environmental groups, but also individuals claiming to be scientists studying wolves, transcends reason. Already a renowned biologist studying wolves laments that extremists have highjacked the wolf agenda. As scholars we must live by Oliver Cromwell’s admonition:” I beseech thee in the bowls of Christ, consider that thee may be mistaken!”. Especially, when political correctness has raised its ugly head!

“As to Kenton Joel Carnegie’s tragic death I harbor no doubts. He was killed and consumed by wolves.”

I welcome the return of the wolf to New Mexico, but I deplore its current means. Wolves that stalk humans in broad daylight– as is admitted– should be removed immediately. The impending disaster will not only hurt its victims– it may well put an end to our having any wolves here at all.

For some fascinating wolf material see this PDF of the wolves of the British Columbia rain forest. (HT Walter Hingley). It really shows what a high- end, opportunistic predator they can be.”Coastal wolves are proving themselves unique among wolves in the world by eating a high proportion of carnivores. Researchers are consistently finding the remains of black bears and river otters in wolf dietary samples- more than anywhere else where wolves have been studied. Notably, by consuming these two animals (which depend on food from the sea) wolves are indirectly feeding on marine resources. Interestingly, wolves also feed on other items from the sea such as washed-up marine mammal carcasses, crabs, mussels, and even barnacles.”

Adds Val: “Also, wolves released on islands in coastal Alaska completely cleaned up on deer, then turned to catching seals that had hauled out – and then starved to death! Every one. As opportunists they will in coastal areas search beaches for edibles. No wonder they are circumpolar and highly resilient to prosecution!”

Excuses & Around the Web

Bear with me a bit, dear readers! I have just begun my eagle book, mentioned below, and am stll shaking down a schedule. Also doing last reread of my collaboration- in translation of Cherkassov’s 1865 Notes of an East Siberian Hunter with Vladimir — a labor of love that will not be an easy sell! A check came in in pounds sterling that will likely take 5 weeks to cash, and we need it now. Libby is on 50 hours a week at the PO, neccesitating a lot of hours for me with animals (mating up all the pigeons) and garden. So I am not blogging or even surfing as much as usual..

Still, a lot of good stuff out there– well, good and awful, but Attention Must Be Paid.

Awful: smoking will get you an R rating. See also here. Casablanca unsuitable for the young??

Awful 2: almost anything to do with the California mandatory spay- neuter – at – 16 weeks bill. Eric at Classical Values has posts here and here, among others.

“Considering that this is my ninth post on the subject, it may seem that I have become single-mindedly obsessed with AB 1634, but the fact is, that bill is only one tentacle of a growing, seemingly unstoppable juggernaut. To me, government-mandated pet surgery is both a symbol and a clear line that is being drawn. It’s an early warning sign of something far worse — the growing public acceptance of the idea that government can and should invade the most utterly personal areas of our lives.

“Few things are more personal to me than my relationship with my dog, Coco. The idea that the government can make me a criminal for not cutting out her ovaries (something which is entirely my business and no one else’s) fills me with horror.

“What happened to all the people who used to scream “KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR BEDROOMS?”

“What about the idea that a man’s home is his castle?”

He is starting to sound like me– or at least that is what people say I am sounding like these days.

Sad news: Tasmanian devils are succumbing to a grotesque and incurable facial cancer. One of the strangest threats to a species seen yet…

Patrick has been on a roll lately. Read The Whole Blog! He has posts on animal experimentation and breast cancer, and on the pathetic “wolf man” from the National Geographic show (who, though he hasn’t yet been eaten, is beginning to approach Timothy Treadwell levels– according to his new girlfriend, he has dropped from Alpha to Omega pack member and “… is in charge of diffusing tensions between the wolves so he spends a lot of time lying on his back, showing his underside and whimpering..”). Patrick also posts on the terminology of scat, deconstructs the “heroic rescue by Jack Russell” story, and (rightfully) disses Tony Blair. What more could you ask for?

More good stuff: a wonderful essay by Odious on food and the pleasures of the table: “When things are bad, I want to eat, and when other people are having trouble, I want to feed them. I told this to a psychology major who responded that I had confused food and love. This is utter nonsense (I am in no danger of eating my wife or son). Food makes things better. Things are always worse on an empty stomach; only after a seriously good meal, and some good drink, and good company, is life manageable.”

More delight: Pluvialis is back at the top of her form, writing one of her trademark perfect essays, this one relating pigeons kept in her youth to an air disater she witnessed, and Icarus (also including one of my favorite poems):

“I’ve always found the sight of a rolling pigeon strangely disturbing: it looks too much, to me, as if they’ve been shot. But perhaps that’s why they are here. As if the whole point of this artificial selection was to show pigeons cheating death, day after day after day. Pigeon-breeders reinscribing a defeat over mortality: little feathered souls falling, righting, and winning. One in the eye for god.”

Finally. Chas reports on a new “Code of the West”. Something like it should be required reading for Nuevo westerners. An example:

“Agriculture is an important business in Larimer County. If you choose to live among the farms and ranches of our rural countryside, do not expect county government to intervene in the normal day-to-day operations of your agri-business neighbors. In fact, Colorado has “Right to Farm” legislation that protects farmers and ranchers from nuisance and liability lawsuits. It enables them to continue producing food and fiber.”


“The topography of the land can tell you where the water will go in the case of heavy precipitation. When property owners fill in ravines, they have found that the water that drained through that ravine now drains through their house.”

That is all for now. Soon, I hope. picture posts and a long one on how you shouldn’t bet on North American wolves staying “benign”.