Monday, March 25, 2013

Texans Are Even Better At Conservation

Have I almost lived in Texas a year? How did that happen? I'll tell you, kids, it happened because I lack the long term planning gene. I don't have DNA. I have DN. As in I "Don't 'No" what I'm doing...and end up living in the desert in Texas for a year by accident. I remember trying to drive to Guatemala some time in 2012. Running out of money...having the police badger me like a junkie hiding body parts in my van...then I remember almost dying on the beach...there was something about working as a wreck recovery tow truck operator and rebuilding a Firebird engine...after that it's a blur. If I didn't have this blog I would have no way of knowing what I did last year. Like I sometimes can't remember when I lived in Santa Cruz. Was it 1994 or 1996? OR both? No idea because the internet didn't exist for me.

Today's conversation on the way back from the ranch where I was throwing paint on the wall reminded me that the Texan determination actually bleeds over to their conservation efforts. I chuckle to think of the Santa Cruz set sitting on the sidewalk to block bulldozers from plowing our community garden under to make way for a Sam's Club. It's a joke. But listening to a Ranch owner talk about almost killing a man because he shot a roadrunner made me see the contradictions you will never appreciate if you only see the King of The Hill side of Texas.

Basically, there is no public land in Texas except parks in cities where the homeless hide from the police. All the desert and scrub brush are ranches seized during the land grab of 1845. And since the deer and wildlife have nowhere to live the ranchers actually feed the whitetail deer like pets. This was hard to grasp for me. There are elk and zebra and deer and hogs and they would all die except for the food and water that ranchers spend thousands of dollars to truck into the brush, bulldozing roads and burning scrub to give the hogs a comfortable place to eat. It's like having an SPCA the size of Vermont. So, the image of a gun slinging Texan shooting everything in his path like on The Simpsons is totally out of touch with reality. Lisa Simpson would be more at home in Texas as a bird conservationist.They love birds here.

So, all these deer and elk and zebra are fed and given water all years since the drought would kill all of them. And then the rancher hires a helicopter and does a census on the animals and decides how many can be culled. No different than cows or chickens. And he sells hunting permits for a few hundred for a deer to a few thousand for an elk or zebra. Or doves. The dove menace must be stopped.

So, one hunter buys a permit to shoot doves and somehow the rancher watches him shoot a roadrunner. While that might make Wily E Coyote happy (ranchers do slaughter coyotes with abandon), the rancher was near homicidal rage that a hunter would shoot a roadrunner. It was almost a killing offense.
never harmed no coyote
"Why did you shoot that roadrunner?"
"It's a bird, isn't it?"
"You see it fly? It runs. That's no bird. And it sure as hell ain't no dove."
"Well, I..."
"You'll pack your shit up and get off."

The rancher was still steaming when he told the story. Then he said someone shot a jackrabbit...and was met with the same eviction.

Believe me, Oggy was doing some soul searching in the backseat as the rancher drank a beer while driving and slowed down to nearly creeping because a family of quail were running in front of the truck. Hydrofracturing...Keystone XL pipeline...BP oil spills...80 hour work weeks...Galveston pollution....and quail conservation?

Lyle Lovett wrote a song called "That's right, you're not from Texas." and that might be my excuse for ignorance. But my lesson is that if you're going to fight for something, do it like a Texan, which starts with owning all the land as far as you can see.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.