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Neither bison nor mustangs are truly free

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I was heartened to read that even though Hal Herring called it "hunting" throughout his story of the Yellowstone buffalo, he finally called it what it truly was, an ugly slaughter (HCN, 2/6/06: The Killing Fields). Killing those placid buffalo was no more hunting than going out to the back pasture and plugging your Hereford bull.

It’s not just the buffalo of Yellowstone that are treated with contempt and cruelty. There has been about as much mismanagement of the West’s wild horses. Some say mustangs don’t deserve protection, because they are not wild, but domesticated animals gone feral. But couldn’t the same be said of the American buffalo? The Buffalo Field Campaign says that the herd now roaming free in Yellowstone is from a small, protected band of a meager 23 (left over from an incomprehensible 50 million) saved from the slaughter of the 1800s.

Both buffalo and wild horses endure under the will and generosity (or lack) of the federal government, and the advocacy groups that campaign for their safety and survival. Both of these creatures, indigenous or not, are living in sanctuaries, just as clearly as are the elephants of Hohenwald, Tenn. Our mustangs and buffalo just have a larger territory to roam "free."

Maura T. Callahan
Snoqualmie, Washington

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