Those of us who regularly pack with llamas were dismayed by the condescending nature of Hal Walter's essay (HCN, 8/19/96). This burro packer's diatribe against llamas is fraught with misinformation. For example, Walter states that he has never seen a llama perform well when carrying over 40 pounds. I regularly put 80 pounds on my llamas and have packed with 100 pounds over 11 miles with no difficulties.
Walter says that when two llamas entered the burro race from Fairplay to Leadville, one dropped out and the other "was still on the course long after most burro racers had showered." In fact, the finishing llama came in fifth out of approximately 30 entrants, thus beating over 80 percent of the top burro racers in their own race.
Walter asserts that llamas eat as much as equines of similar size. I have both llamas and horses on my property. In my experience, although llamas weigh about one-third that of a horse, and four llamas need less pasture than a single horse.
Next time you publish an article on pack animals, please make sure the author knows what he or she is talking about. Then, hopefully, we wouldn't see another of Walter's driveling essays grace the pages of an otherwise fine publication.