The "wild horses" tale

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As the resolutions of the environmental authorities arrives to us, and to HidroAysen, that invalidate previous resolutions and resolves claims against the approval of the HidroAysén project (432 pages), we are waiting to see if that company will appeal to the environmental courts. 
 
We also are waiting for a Supreme Court decision on the appeal of the split verdict of the Court of Appeals of Coyhaique regarding a lawsuit against the Rio Cuervo project.
 
Meantime, we are entertained by, among other things, the apparently scandalous allegations concerning the alleged "hunting of wild horses" in the Yendegaia National Park (Tierra del Fuego) as presented July 3 in a television report on Chilevisión, and which was amplified the following day by the La Tercera newspaper.
 
For me, this wild horses saga is yet another example of a moral double standard in Chilean society. I’m also struck by how easily and naïvely the animal rights crowd and horse lovers have been duped by this tale.
 
For starters, the media pushing this story have lost all sense of journalistic ethics in neglecting to ask the other side or affected by the accusations. For sure, the media has taken a far different approach from when we environmentalists denounce some powerful company or other important character.
 
Less still, when they received reaction to their reports, taking a blind eye to the denials and clarifications that they received from the Yendegaia Foundation and Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG).  But the most forceful and clear response came from Miguel Serka, former owner and manager of Yendegaia, and the so-called person in charge of “horse hunting." Serka has since made it clear that these horses are not wild rather they are domestic "baguales" introduced there by his father, and that he understood the term hunting to mean "capture" of the animals and that his business was merely to tame them to sell (The Clinic, July 10). What's more, Serka makes clear that the complainants made by Andres Cox (the so-called defender of animals in this tale) and Jose Alvarado are profoundly hypocritical: Cox is none other than the vice-president of the Punta Arenas slaughterhouse Matadero Frigorífico Agromin, whom slaughter 1200 animals daily; and Alvarado was a caretaker of the Yendegaia estancia and himself known for selling without authorization the meat from these horses to the slaughterhouse. In other words, the cast of characters in this movie are exactly opposite from what the public was led to believe!
 
We must also remember that these "wild horses" became extinct about ten thousand years ago in the Americas and that the only truly wild horses are those of Mongolia and those that survive in some Asian national parks.
 
It’s worthwhile to add that I am very fond of horses, I actually have some myself and several more roam my neighborhood, but I also know the damage they cause due to over grazing and erosion, such as destroying tree saplings, competing with other herbivores, destroying gardens and fences, of which any connoisseur and owner of horses will attest. Thus it is clear that these horses are a problem for a nature protection area, which any conservation expert will also tell you. Incidentally, someone wrote recently that horses, sheep and cows in a place were the same as guanacos. But nothing could be further from the truth, the former are introduced, domestic animals introduced with hard feet that sometimes destroy and erode the soil and vegetation, while guanacos are natives to Patagonia and have soft feet that do not affect the soil.
 
And concerning the subject of the slaughter of horses for meat, which shocked some, it is worth reminding that in the Patagonia region there are those who actually buy them to barbecue, and some butcher shops have horse meat.  So, someone killed and slaughter these animals, yet without having ever seen or heard of any complaints from these new, apparent "horse lovers".
 
In conclusion, I invite all those who say they are lovers of horses and other animals (including cattle and sheep), to examine whether their steak or roast is not from a dead animal, and especially from that of a horse, and to look on as they kill and slaughter animals for food consumption (I assure you that a visit to the slaughterhouse is quite sufficient).  In other words, be coherent and consistent between what you say and do. And if afterward you still want to complain, it would be good if you first did so based on complete information, beginning at home.