“Another Idiot With a Gun!”

"San Simeon Killer Zebras"

Well it’s happened again. Another idiot with a gun has caused quite a stir up in San Luis Obispo County.  Actually, this time it was two idiot ranchers with guns who did the shooting. And what exactly where they shooting at? Bob cats? Mountain lions,? Bear? All carnivorous predators native to the area? No, these big game hunters decided to kill 3 extremely dangerous, herbivores; killer zebras that had strayed onto their property from neighboring Hearst Castle. The zebras, part of a herd of eighty or so that wander the Hearst property, are all that remains of what was once one of the largest  private zoos assembled by William Hearst back in the 1920’s.   According to the local news paper the zebras had escaped from the Hearst property and were on the ranchers property, when shot.

Okay, I get it, zebras are from Africa and are considered to be wild animals who when provoked can be extremely dangerous, but then a provoked horse can be equally as dangerous. When startled or threatened horses will kick or attempt to knock people over and will jump or swing their bodies about. A horse may also become frightened and rear back throwing their rider, resulting in injuries that can sometimes be fatal. Horses will also bite and sometimes use their bulk to press people against the wall of their stalls. Many horse trainers believe that there are some horses who have a natural ‘mean streak,’ these horses attempt to charge, bite, kick or crush anyone who gets too close to them.  So much for the domesticated horse.

And cows. Ever seen an agitated cow? Did you know that there are about twenty cow related deaths reported each year! Oh yeah! Killer cows!  Just imagine death by cow!  How can such a docile creature be deadly? Well, cow related deaths have been attributed to ramming, trampling, kicking or crushing and I’m talking about one cow doing the damage, not an entire herd! Most of the victims died from head or chest injuries and in one case the victim was attacked from behind when he wasn’t looking!

So then, if a cow or horse owned by these two trigger happy idiots managed to wander off onto a neighbor’s property and that neighbor sees it behaving strangely or aggressively towards one of his livestock, deems it a threat and shoots it, he would be well within his rights to protect his property right?  And the owner of  the horse or cow couldn’t do anything about it.  Wrong.  A cow or horse is not labeled as a wild animal. Our zebra killers would probably have their neighbor arrested or sue him, probably both.
And that neighbor would be hard pressed to prove that the animal posed a real threat.  Besides, with a domesticated animal the situation would have been handled humanely.
We all know that the situation could have been handled differently and should have been. Those two ranchers had no right to shoot such  beautiful creatures. Those zebras have been grazing that land for nearly 90 years! They pose no threat. A few warning shots would have probably scared  them off. I would think that firing that rifle would have spooked the livestock just as badly as the zebras supposedly spooked them.
The bottom line is that there were other alternatives available. In the past when zebras had wandered onto other peoples property, a simple phone call was made to the Hearst Ranch and they would round up the stray zebras. In this case no call was made. The ranchers said there was no time for a phone call, their horses and cattle were in eminent danger and  the situation called for immediate action.  Who knows how long it would have taken the Hearst Ranch to respond. So to protect their animals they opened fire on what they called a predatory animal.  Case closed, but definitely not the case, zebras are not predators.  Just goes to show what a couple of idiots with guns can do.
By the way, the horse rancher did make one call. After the shooting he called a local taxidermist and asked that the zebra hide be tanned because he wanted a zebra skinned rug.
Maybe that’s  all he wanted all along.

JS

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