NO HOME ON THE RANGE
Thank you for Jack Olsen's superb article The Poisoning of the West (March 8 et seq.). It is nearly beyond belief that today, after years of painful lessons supposedly learned from past slaughters under the label of predator control, we still have men who advocate and practice the destruction of wildlife for immediate economic gain, with no thought given to long-term ecological effects or to the immediate good bestowed upon man by living wildlife or to the morality of such actions.
If Edwin Marsh's thinking is representative of the membership of the National Wool Growers Association and of the powerful sheepmen's lobby in Washington, perhaps we should be boycotting products made of American-raised wool. Each year more land is turned to dust by overgrazing in areas where sheep do not belong. If we allow foolish men to destroy innocent wildlife, we shall gain nothing. And when the plant life has been destroyed by the sheep, the range sheep industry will die, too.
Your fine article points out once again the difficulty in reaching firm conclusions about ecological issues. Jack Olsen paints a vivid picture of poisoning villains, yet the rebuttals say it just ain't so. In my opinion, you have presented one more example of our ability to trade off natural resources in the name of economic advancement. When do we reach the point of diminishing returns where a gain in the standard of living becomes a loss in the standard of life? It is sad that we do not feel more of a sense of revulsion and rage at what is happening in our land for the sake of progress. America the beautiful? Hmmm.
TIMOTHY R. WRIGHT
The very fact that the stockmen can afford to pay high prices for pilots to spread their lands with poison illustrates that the loss of a few animals to predators would not hurt them financially. More important than the stockmen's financial profit or loss situation is the fact that they are literally stealing from the American public (with the ever-faithful help of Congress, of course).
State College, Pa.
Until I read Jack Olsen's article I held the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in very high esteem. I understand the problems in this situation brought forth by Jack Berryman, chief of Wildlife Services, but it still seems incredible to me that the Government can go on using poisons for predator control in light of the increasing volume of literature showing the dangers of the supposedly safe poisons not only to wildlife but to man.
As for the practices of some of the sheepmen, I have nothing but contempt. I could not fail to note the enlightened attitude of many members of this industry, but I am becoming increasingly angry and filled with dismay at the ignorant savagery of some. Won't we ever learn?
JON A. HAWKINSON
The article made my stomach turn and it made me cry. But most of all, it made me want to do something about the situation. I wrote to my Congressmen.
One hope for the survival (or should it be revival?) of our ecological balance lies in the passage of appropriate legislation dealing not only with poison control but with all facets of man's chemical assault on nature; and the legislation must be followed by proper enforcement. This step can be encouraged if all concerned persons make their feelings known as loudly and as vehemently as do the sheepmen through their lobby. I hope all who read the article and felt outraged will write to their state and national officials.
Thank you for an informative and much needed article. Many people out here don't realize what is happening because too often the only information available is an advertisement for bounties on coyotes.
Because of this lack of information and also because of the relatively clear skies, clean water and general lack of "city problems," too many Westerners are typical of your sheepmen. "Why should we worry about pollution?" they ask. "We don't have any." We're working on it, though.