Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This Pronghorn Antelope was photographed a few years ago in the area of Northeastern New Mexico where rancher Neal Trujillo shot 39 of its species, recently near Cimarron.

It is legal in New Mexico to shoot wildlife that destroys crops, livestock or other property.

Senate Pro Tem Tim Jennings, left, a rancher himself, shepherded legislation through a few years back setting up the program.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Trujillo made a mess of it by using a shotgun and riding an all terrain vehicle to shoot the fastest land mammals in North America. He tended to maim them and leave them to agonizingly die.

State Game and Fish Department officers found some of the injured animals later and had to put them out of their misery.

No doubt animals compete with the rancher over his crop of winter wheat and he is authorized to protect his investment by killing the animals as a last resort. However, Trujillo seems to consider himself immune from the obligation to do anything else before arriving at the last resort and then he literally adds insult to the injury by not being humane in his efforts.

Though it is lawful to kill predators, a quick read of the state statute on cruelty to animals shows there are requirements in the authorization such destruction. The important language in the "lawful justification" section is “humanely destroying a sick or injured animal.”

I’m not widely regarded as a “jump up and down while foaming at the mouth,” kind of animal protection guy. I appreciate wildlife and like to observe it; I’m not a hunter, but I won’t turn down a piece of venison either.

I understand the need to knock down wild animals that get too close to humans.

I watched with interest this week as Chicago Police tracked down a fairly large cougar and quickly shot it.

There are those who have called for the use of a tranquilizer, but such folks have no idea how quick and dangerous such an animal is and how slowly a tranquilizer takes affect.

What I find reprehensible here is the lack of engaging in a humane effort. I would have no problem if the state were to charge Trujillo with cruelty or even extreme cruelty to animals; which is defined as, intentionally or maliciously torturing, mutilating, injuring or poisoning an animal.

Not because he killed them, but specifically because, when Trujillo shot the antelopes, he didn't kill them.

If you’re going to put them down, then do a full job of it.

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