Posts Tagged ‘BLM’
The Daily Pitchfork, which I hope you will consider subscribing to, is off to a fantastic start. Our most recent piece is an excellent article by Vickery Eckhoff on the sloppy reporting on wild horses in the American west. It is a careful and somewhat jaw dropping revelation of how extensively journalists twist messages to avoid upsetting the status quo. Enjoy. Subscribe!
Michael Moss’ powerful New York Times’ investigation into the United States Department of Agriculture’s Meat Animal Research Center (“U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer In Quest For Profit”) predictably outraged readers. The collective angst came not just because of the center’s ghoulish and inept experimentation; not just because the research animals suffered to boost profits in the livestock industry; but because the public learned that taxpayers had footed the bill — and had been doing so — for fifty years.
Compare that discovery to the recent media attention given to a very similar program, one involving even more animals, conducted to boost livestock industry profits, costing even more taxpayer dollars, and degrading millions of acres of public rangelands in the American West: The Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burros Program (WHB).
Read more here.
Cliven Bundy is either the smartest or dumbest gaucho on the range. Here’s his claim to fame: he mooched 20 years’ worth of grazing fees from the Bureau of Land Management and, when the BLM moved in to settle up, he tapped a populist-prone and hardware-wielding posse to protect his clean $1 million in unpaid dues.
The smart Bundy was brilliantly manipulating a uniquely American script dating back to the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion: refuse to pay up, wait for the feds to pounce, muster a bunch of Big Guvmint rhetoric to whip the “don’t-tread-on-me” crowd into an anarchy-tinged froth. The dumb Bundy, by contrast, is just some Nevada nutbag who doesn’t know the difference between public and private property, insouciantly allowing taxpayers to subsidize his little cowboy fantasy.
As FOX News transforms Bundy into a latter-day Thomas Jefferson, a few points should be reiterated. First, the cattle that graze the 18,00o BLM leases destroy western ecosystems already made fragile by drought (Jefferson the farmer would have objected). Second, the animals most capable of restoring those grasslands to health—species arranged in a complex web of predator/prey relationships—have been wiped clean from the western slate so cattle can treat the West as a literal stomping ground. Third, the most threatening invasive species in this drama are two-legged Bundy-types who think their personal rights include treating the American West as their birthright.
But even more than the landscape, the species, and the cowboys, there are the millions upon millions of individual animals who suffer as Bundy, the BLM, and meat-loving Americans indulge in this tired protest. Don’t expect the news outlets to treat animals as interested parties. But they have the most to lose.
This is no American Revolution. There are no more Sons of Liberty. It’s an unchecked power grab that the BLM, should it concede, would place every American critter—no how many legged—on the wrong side of some lunatic’s ego, not to mention his firearm.
As I’ve reported here before, there are a lot of interest groups wanting us to start eating horses. Slaughterhouses are cool with it. The Navajo, who are actively rounding up wild horses to sell to slaughterhouses, are cool with it. And now Tobin Harshaw, of Bloomberg News, is cool with it. The headline to his recent piece reads, “Wild Horses: We’ll Eat them Someday.” Warning: you might think it’s from the Onion. But it’s not. It’s “real news.”
All this recent salivation over the prospect of domestic horse meat is being fueled by the claim that western lands are experiencing a “horse crisis.” That assertion recently gained traction when the University of Montana’s Robert A. Garrott published a paper suggesting that “We’ll end up like Australia,” overrun with wild horses. Garrott, whose numbers are being scrutinized, recommends contraceptive programs. But Harshaw has a different idea: “What we really need is to call in the foodies.”
Sure! Let’s eat our way to the other end of the “horse crisis”! After all, he explains, “When traces of horse meat were found in supermarket products in the U.K. in January, many consumers were appalled, but nobody got sick.” Ah, well that whet’s the appetite. His bizarre justification continues: “Opponents say that butchering horses is worse for the environment than killing cows, with more offal and blood runoff. That may be true, but it seems manageable through engineering.” Yes! Engineering! We can engineer a bloodless slaughterhouse!
Oh and this: ”Lifting the bans on slaughtering wild mustangs and introducing them into a well-supervised and humane slaughter program seems the logical way to stop the population explosion and ease the BLM’s cash crunch.” Hmm. So, let’s get everything straight: we’ll promote slaughter so the BLM can get back on it’s feet and continue to promote . . . slaughter.
I wish I could say I was shocked by the stupidity of this piece, and I’m almost reluctant to bring it up and lend it more eyes on the page. But–and I know we know this–it’s important to appreciate how low the bar has been set when it comes to writing about animals in the popular media. This is Bloomberg News, after all, an otherwise reputable source of news that somehow let Harshaw end his piece with this question: “Would you rather have these creatures overwhelming their ecosystem and dying of starvation, or served as tartare with a quail egg at your corner brasserie?”
Is this guy serious?