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Longhorn sale sparks debate on future of the breed


POSTED: Monday, May 6, 2013 - 5:04pm

UPDATED: Monday, May 6, 2013 - 8:19pm

The sale of a large group of longhorns in West Texas is sparking a debate over the animal's future.

Texas Parks and Wildlife recently sold off about 100 longhorns at Big Bend State Park to make room to display a smaller herd.

Many Texans with close ties to this animal aren’t happy about it.

“Longhorns is what made this country great,” said Luke Rutledge of Lindale.

Many Texans argue longhorns are an important part of our ecosystem and need to be left alone.

“We need to keep longhorns, they are a part of Texas,” said Rutledge, who has been raising longhorns since 1981. “We need them for the next generation.”

Rutledge says the breed is very low maintenance and drought resistant.

“They will make it on their own, you don't have to feed them as much, you don't have to work with them when their calving,” he said.

Others support pastures with fewer longhorns, like the Lone Star Chapter of The Sierra Club, arguing they are harsh on natural landscapes during a drought.

People with the Sierra Club say the cattle before (in Big Bend) were roaming all over, spread too thin and therefore not easily accessible for the public to see on more than 300,000 acres of land.

Evelyn Merz, with the Lone Star chapter of The Sierra Club, says the herd manager for the official state longhorn said not all the cattle out at Big Bend were "good examples of the breed."

“Because what happens is, you don’t really have fences out there on this huge ranch,” Merz said. “What happens is, they breed with other trespassed cattle that are passing through the neighborhood.”

This organization also said a smaller herd is easier to manage and wouldn't trample the natural environment in this new display area they are making room for at this park.

But Rutledge, no pun intended, says that's a bunch of bull.

“A longhorn won’t tear up anything … they'll graze on grass,” Rutledge said. “If you wanna get rid of something get rid of the hogs. Longhorns are not the problem. Hogs are the problem in this country."

A state representative from Waco filed a bill that would prohibit Parks and Wildlife from further reducing the size of the herd in Big Bend.

The measure is awaiting a vote by the House.

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