Letters

Pronghorns of a Dilemma
I never cease to be amazed at the media's propensity toward slanted coverage of subjects that would seem to much better serve the public if offered in a more objective manner ("Boom, Boom on the Range," Jeremy Voas, November 21). I found it particularly instructive to compare the New Times piece with "Nomads of the Desert--Sonoran Pronghorn" (Arizona Wildlife Views, John Hervert, February 1996). Both articles contain the identical photo as appeared on the New Times cover, but the latter article makes no reference to the water hole illustrated being a bomb crater--is it in fact a bomb crater, or a natural water hole identified as a bomb crater for journalistic impact? Hervert's article, in fact, makes no reference at all to the gunnery range, or its impact one way or another on the Sonoran pronghorn. While New Times' article appears intended to portray the Sonoran pronghorn as in the precarious state of conceivably being wiped out by bombing-range activity, Hervert states in his article, "It appears that Sonoran pronghorn have increased in number." While the New Times article portrays artificial water sources as "fast-food stands for predators," or "possibly because they are staked out by predators," Hervert's article states, "Perhaps the presence of free-standing water may act to reduce predation on pronghorn." At least both articles do point out, and agree that, "cholla fruit is believed to provide much of the pronghorn's water needs," and it was at least gratifying that New Times did point out that "there is no evidence that military activity has ever killed or injured a Sonoran pronghorn," that the range has "had the effect of insulating Sonoran pronghorn and other wildlife," and "the irony that weapons of mass destruction might indirectly nurture an endangered species."

One point New Times did raise that I feel deserves further exploration and consideration is the question of whether certain "subspecies" really are, in fact, a subspecies (or just a local adaptation to environmental conditions), and does it make sense to exert heroic measures to protect and preserve allegedly endangered pronghorn, bighorn, etc., in isolated areas with marginally suitable conditions for their survival, when larger unendangered populations of the same species exist elsewhere in areas more conducive to their long-term survival. Why protect an isolated population of pronghorn forced to marginally survive on cholla fruit when there are thriving populations in the high desert grasslands for which the species is more naturally adapted? It seems the very people who support the theory of evolution are most averse to letting nature's "survival of the fittest" play out naturally, and insist on preserving all species from extinction, whatever the cost or logic involved.

Ted Gibson
Mesa

Jeremy Voas responds: The photo in question is of an antelope at a water-filled bomb crater. John Hervert has identified it as such, even if the editor of Wildlife Views chose not to. Luke Air Force Base officials agree that the water source near High Explosive Hill is a bomb crater.

In his February article, Hervert does state that "it appears that Sonoran pronghorn have increased in number." But he wrote that article months before it was published, and at that time he had yet to see the effect of prolonged drought on the pronghorn; none of the fawns born in the spring survived the summer. Hervert has since estimated the U.S. population at as few as 80.

While Hervert may believe that water sources may not encourage predation, other biologists I interviewed believe otherwise; "fast-food stands for predators" is a direct quote from Luke biologist Bruce Eilerts.

Tender Loving Scare
New Times' follow-up story on the death of Donald Ellison ("Sins of Commission, Paul Rubin, November 21), the psychotic Vietnam veteran who died on the streets, may have rattled a few cages in the mental-health profession. Though the article did much to highlight the possibility of negligence on the part of Arizona's mental-health referral agency, ComCare, the agency seems to be an old hand at this. Just three years ago, a 30-something dually diagnosed SMI mentally retarded man with an IQ of approximately 60 walked away from a day care treatment to which he'd been referred by ComCare. He, too, like Donald Ellison, collapsed on a Tempe street on a 112-degree day in June. He died a few days later.

Like Ellison, the man was admitted into a program where he was unsupervised. Like Ellison, the precedent-setting Arnold v. Sarn case guaranteed him that right to walk away by himself, though he was unable to care for himself in most respects. How many more times will this happen?

Kim M. Casale
Scottsdale

Rollins' Tone
This letter is specifically for David Holthouse and his "Regarding Henry" piece (Coda, November 21). It is obvious that Holthouse knows nothing about Henry Rollins. Henry Rollins has always been himself no matter what. Where was Holthouse during Rollins' first spoken-word tour in the '80s? All of the singers and bands of the early punk movement have died or sold out, with only Danzig and Rollins still doing their thing. Has Holthouse ever listened to the words of that generation of music? If he did, he most certainly didn't understand the political message, double entendre, sarcasm that was prevalent in the scene at the time.

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