STATUS PLUS QUO
Having just completed your article The Negro Athlete Is Invited Home (June 14), I congratulate Frank Deford on his well-written and informative coverage concerning the lifting of the recruiting "ban" involving the Negro athletes and the southern colleges and universities. Ron (Fritz) Williams of West Virginia University is indeed an outstanding basketball player and is certainly a potential All-America. However, I question Mr. Deford's statement that Ron can help bring back to WVU something they already possess. I refer to WVU's tremendous semifinal win over the highly ranked Davidson Wildcats and their final win over William & Mary in this past Southern Conference basketball tournament. Regardless of the criticism involving tournament procedure, this does give the Mountaineers the right to wear the crown in Southern Conference basketball. True, our four Negro basketball players will help to retain the title, but let us not forget where it rests now. Davidson won't!
LARRY E. CASEBEER
After the vituperation heaped on you from letter writers (19TH HOLE, June 14) because of Virginia Kraft's May 31 article, Goodby Kangaroos, let me say that the article was not "inflammatory" enough. It is shocking to me that the rape of wildlife that has been going on in Australia for decades can continue unchecked in this day and age. That men in this country, where the seed of unspoiled wilderness bore its greatest fruit, condone it or close their minds to it is unthinkable. What people with shortsighted vision can't seem to understand is that nature, like man, has rights, whether the law recognizes them or not. In Australia it seems a kangaroo court is in session.
Your article failed to consider both sides of a difficult problem. Above all it was an unfair indictment of Australia's attitude toward its wildlife. I have recently returned from a survey of the possibilities of doing a film involving the wildlife of that country, during which I conversed at length with key representatives in the wildlife fields at state and federal levels, and with the managers of the main zoos. On that trip, I discovered certain facts that should be made clear:
1) There is no natural prey of the kangaroo that effectively limits its population. Settlement of the outback brings with it artificial water supplies and crop planting, which tend to increase an annual population normally held in check by periodic droughts—such as the one during the past year.
2) Today, Australians in general are very conscious and considerate of their unusual wildlife, particularly of such forms as the platypus and koala bear, in which they take a national pride. Injured or stray members found at random are often taken substantial distances to the nearest sanctuary. These are very popular and allow many animal types to roam at will in free contact with the public.
3) Australian teams of scientists are engaged in ecological and biological studies of the kangaroo and other marsupials. It is a pity that your writer did not get acquainted with some of the facts concerning the population counts of today relative to earlier years that these teams have brought out, rather than getting emotionally involved from observation at several water holes. It is my understanding that, with all the killing, the red kangaroo (the main victim) is holding his own. If he becomes scarce in some areas, the shooting will stop because it becomes unprofitable.
4) With few exceptions, the marsupial fauna of Australia is protected stringently by state wildlife agencies. It is unlawful to hold in captivity or barter in those animals without permission. But because of the quantity of kangaroos competing for scarce feed needed by sheep and cattle in certain areas, these authorities must provide permits for shooting them. In the back country, where water is very scarce, a great deal of land is needed to support one sheep, not to mention sheep and kangaroos. This is a controversial situation, not fully understood even by Australian urbanites who vehemently voice their displeasure when the subject arises in newspapers and television documentary films. At first acquaintance the slaughtering is frightening and repugnant. That there are two sides to the problem is evident upon further examination—and recognized by Australia's wildlife administrators who, sadly, are in the middle. They must consider the problems of the grazier yet bear the brunt of the townspeople's wrath.
I agree that Australia should, wherever possible, set aside more areas as primitive tracts for protection of wildlife and human recreation. This will doubtless come. Furthermore, slaughter of kangaroos is an unfortunate and unhappy method for limiting their numbers. They are attractive animals, whose natural curiosity makes them easy targets. However, the species that is being reduced is far from being threatened with extinction. Let us hope for alternative methods of control.
N. PAUL KENWORTHY, JR.
New York City
One of my most vivid memories of several expeditions in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is a sign posted on each trail that reads: "STOP—The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure even in the summer. Turn back NOW if the weather is bad. White Mountain National Forest."
Unfortunately, too many climbers have ignored such signs. Your recent article, 72 Hours of Terror (June 14 and 21), should serve as a warning to those who have yet to make the mistake.