Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: On the Hearst Ranch Zebra Shooting

Enough is enough

In light of the recent shootings of our zebras (“Zebras shot after getting off Hearst Ranch,” Jan. 12) and the ever-increasing level of harsh response, I believe it is time to end this controversy. Now is the time for ranchers and neighbors to make a renewed effort to communicate with each other and with the public for each others’ benefit.

At the Hearst Ranch, we will continue to do our best to contain our zebras. But if they do stray from our property, we ask that anyone who sees them to please treat them with respect and to contact us immediately, as we do for our neighbors when their animals cross over onto our land.

What’s done is done. We would like to move forward in good faith with our neighbors to support each other, because ranching is hard enough. Let’s put this incident to bed.

Steve Hearst

San Simeon

A load of manure

I read in horror the disgusting news about rancher David Fiscalini shooting and killing innocent zebras who happened upon his ranch from the Hearst Castle historic collection of exotic animals. He claims they were a threat to his livestock.

That’s a bunch of horse manure, and I don’t believe it for a moment. These striped horses are a gentle animal and pose no threat to anything or anybody. These grazing animals know no human boundaries and did not deserve to be brutally shot.

Instead of using a gun, he should have used the phone and simply called the Hearst Ranch. Sounds to me like he holds a grudge against the Hearst Corporation and took it out on the lives of innocent animals. And now he’s tanning the hides of these beautiful exotic creatures, not in loving memory, but for his trophy room, I’m sure.

Diana Duncan

Morro Bay

Disturbing news

As a Southern Californian who loves to visit Cambria and Hearst Castle every couple of years, I was greatly disturbed by the news of the rancher who felt the need to shoot the zebras that had ventured onto his land. How sad that this man’s mentality level is so low that he thought these beautiful animals were an imminent threat.

Hearst Castle, the community and frequent visitors are the ones to whom this rancher has paid such a great disservice.  

As most of us know, an animal is considered chattel, worth its dollar value. This guy isn’t even worth the value of his hide.

Kathy Droll

Long Beach

Fishy shooting

After reading the story about the zebras, I knew it smelled fishy. I have lived on the Central Coast for more than 20 years. My family has raised livestock and been game hunters for more than a century now. 

I have never heard a report of zebras being on any other ranch land than Hearst’s. I am privy to poachers and “knuckleheads,” but I have not ever heard of anyone poaching zebras on the Hearst Ranch. 

This leaves David Fiscalini and the unknown rancher in the “knucklehead” category. Fiscalini states he took no pleasure in “dispatching” the animals, but he also took very little time contacting a taxidermist to make two exotic trophy fireplace rugs for himself. 

This incident needs to be further investigated by the Sheriff’s Department and state Department of Fish and Game. Did the horse paddock have doors at both ends so the zebras could have been herded out without incident? Why didn’t Fiscalini call Steve Hearst first?

After shooting the zebras, Fiscalini should have called Hearst to come get his zebras. The hides need to be returned to their owner.

Cathy Houk

Paso Robles

Not ranchers

Make no mistake, David Fiscalini and his ignorant neighbor are not ranchers. They are little rich guys with a few cattle, a few horses, not much land, pretending to be ranchers.

My father and grand-father were ranchers in New Mexico and respected animals and the environment. The shooting of the zebras by these two should be prosecuted as much for low IQs as for the act.

Zebras eat grass, not horses, and they are not predators. Fiscalini needs to move back to the city where he belongs.

Terri Greer

Los Angeles

Lack of compassion

The big rancher David Fiscalini seems to have a “kill first and ask questions later” mentality! I find his brutal killings of Hearst Ranch’s zebras chillingly cruel and completely lacking in compassion for animals that most likely came to play with the horses. I have often watched the zebras’ gentle play from Highway 1 when I drive up the coast.

Fiscalini’s fallacious reasoning for killing Hearst’s zebras is certainly suspect considering his quick action to call a taxidermist to tan the hides as he “did not want to waste the hides.” He had no trouble wasting the zebras though.

Did you plan to hang the hides on your wall, Fiscalini? The hides are not yours. They belong to Steve Hearst, and I hope he claims them and takes action against you for your pernicious activities.

Marje Legerton

Los Osos

Press charges

I am very disappointed in the action taken by the local authorities regarding the zebras that escaped from Hearst Ranch.

The state Department of Fish and Game should not have this case. Instead, the sheriff’s office should be pressing charges for felony animal abuse and theft of the hides.

This leaves precedence for anyone wanting a hide to cut a fence, let an animal out, shoot and skin it, and send it to the taxidermist for a new rug on the grounds that their “horses were in eminent danger!”

As an owner of a zebra, this concerns me. Zebras are herd animals, so I find it interesting that a zebra decided to leave its herd and wander. I know the zebra on my ranch would never leave.

Is this a sign of the times that we can’t trust our neighbors?

Alice Peltier


Embrace diversity

What has this world come to? It appears that rancher David Fiscalini has a gripe with Hearst Ranch that involves more than the zebras entering his property. Perhaps he considers the zebras pests and a threat to his livelihood, but to shoot them and then tan their hides is most disgusting.

Fiscalini needs to remember that he lives in one of the most beautiful, undeveloped areas in the world, and we should embrace our diversity, even when it comes to zebras.

Barbara Stilwell

Pismo Beach

Ever tried to call?

Perhaps the recent saddlebag full of brickbats sent to the Zebra-shooting rancher up near Hearst Ranch was unjustified (“No courtesy calls from ranchers?,” Jan. 14).

Did the editorialist who cast that judgment ever try to make a mobile connection up in those remote hills?

Rick von Stein

San Luis Obispo