Want to Help the Environment? Go Hunting!

Tom Danehy points out the environmental impacts of the factory farming of animals (March 6).

There are also environmental problems with a vegetarian diet. Rice fields are major sources of methane releases to the atmosphere. Methane is 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The paddy rice grown in California is flood-irrigated--so much for water conservation.

Hunting animals for food is a way to reduce meat-eaters' dependence on factory-farmed animals. One mule deer should provide much of the protein requirements for one person for a year. The venison from deer is low-fat and organic. Hunting for food has less of an impact on the ecosystem than organic farming.

Unfortunately, as the U.S. population has become more urbanized, hunting has declined. In California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, environmentalists have supported programs to have professional hunters cull deer populations which have destroyed wildlife habitat due to overgrazing. If more urban dwellers would take up hunting for food, professional hunters wouldn't be needed, and our dependence on factory-farmed animals would be reduced.

In Australia, environmentalists are trying to persuade people to eat more kangaroos to reduce dependence on cattle and mitigate the environmental impact cattle-raising has had on the fragile Australian ecosystem.

Al Levinson

Don't Assume All Off-Roaders Are Bad Apples

How can someone make an objective opinion about a recreational activity they have never participated in? Connie Tuttle's recent article on off-road-vehicle recreation upset me, in that she deliberately painted the off-road community with an overly broad brush (Feb. 28).

She uses stereotypes and blanket statements, something I believe a writer of Connie's stature should be above. She apparently thinks that all off-road enthusiasts use off-roading to get in contact with our inner Neanderthal, and that we all promote drunken, Mad Max-type violence at family outings. She also implies that all of us run amok throughout the desert, destroying everything in our path. Most of us do not fit those statements or stereotypes.

I belong to a local dirt-bike club, and we promote safe and respectful off-pavement travel. This means we stay on the trail, encourage trail etiquette and respect the environment. We have organized trail-maintenance days and organized cleanups. It really shouldn't even be called "off-roading," because we stay on established trail systems.

Her complaint was about the abuse going on in the Ironwood Forest, and I agree that there are bad apples out there ruining it for the rest of us. What Connie doesn't know (perhaps for lack of proper inquiry) is that I, along with many members of my club, worked alongside the Bureau of Land Management in an organized cleanup of Ironwood just last summer. It should also be mentioned that four-wheel-drive clubs, gun clubs, etc., were there as well. We, too, care a great deal about the environment. Many other organizations, including the same groups who would restrict off-roading, had the same opportunity to participate in the cleanup. To my knowledge, few (none?) representatives from the environmental community participated.

I personally e-mailed Connie. She was quite nice to me in her responses, even though we don't see eye to eye. She quipped that I (and others like myself) am selfish for participating in recreation that relies on fossil fuels. I pose the question: What form of recreation doesn't? How many hikers walk from, let's say, downtown Tucson to hike Finger Rock? I'll bet they drive their car to the trailhead. What about golfers? What fuels the machines that care for the greens?

I'm sure that in Connie's "ideal" world, there would be no fossil-fuel use allowed for recreational purposes--but who decided that the Connies of the world should be the ones who decide what "ideal" is, anyway?

Kermit Menear

Feral Cats Need to Be Returned, Not Just Released, After Neutering

Thank you for your article about feral cats ("Easy Prey," Currents, Feb. 28). One important point that must be made regarding the trapping and spaying of these cats is that the "R" in TNR (trap-neuter-return) should stand for return and not release.

This is a very important distinction. As noted in the article, feral cats live in colonies and are very territorial. They should always be returned to the colony from which they were trapped once they are spayed/neutered. This creates a stable colony that can be managed by a caretaker. If the cats are just put out anywhere (released), then the colony from which they were taken will grow to fill their space, since nature abhors a vacuum.

Through spay/neuter programs such as SNIP (Spay Neuter Intervention Project), many feral cats go through the TNR process, and in time, the numbers of ferals will dwindle. Of course, the answer to the problem is to address the core issues: people not spaying/neutering their pets, and people abandoning their cats when they move.

Dot Jones

More Health Insurance Means a Healthier Society

In contrast to Tom Danehy's recent condemnation of the Tucson City Council (Feb. 28), I applaud council members for their decision to provide health insurance for unmarried heterosexual domestic partners, putting them on par with gay domestic partners who already have coverage.

As a matter of policy, we should be finding ways to include families of all types in the health-insurance net. The allocation of health insurance should reflect the diversity of our society; we should not reject those who do not fit a 19th-century norm.

Adults who live together as a family unit are not "too lazy, too cool or too uncommitted," but rather people who have made a lifestyle choice that they feel works for them. As a result of the city's enlightened decision, more families will have health insurance. What's wrong with that? It might even result in healthier children and parents, and a more productive workforce. I can't think of a better use for my tax dollars.

Mary Romaniello

Wobblies Tend to Be Industrial Rather Than International

The Wobblies are the Industrial Workers of the World, not the International Workers of the World, and are still in existence, presently working with Starbucks workers, for example ("Rise of the Radicals," Books, March 6). They have an excellent Web site.

Michael Ames

We apologize for the error.

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