I recently received an e-mail from my Hill Country correspondent who says trouble is brewing in his county. I wonít mention the name of the county as there may be some question about the plain truth of what he told me. He says folks down there are having to sleep with their dogs because the sheep and goats are killing them.

I have wondered for years when these animals might suddenly decide to go on the warpath. After all, marauding dogs have been killing more livestock over the years than any coyote in Texas. J. Frank Dobie, noted Texas writer, said he had rather hear a coyote howl than anything he had ever heard on any manís radio. Iíll go along with that.

As for sleeping with their dogs, I find nothing wrong with that. I have been doing it for years. Well, actually not theirs, but mine. I never make it a habit to sleep with dogs I donít know.

I learned from the Associated Press that livestock as far north as Iowa are being wiped out by black vultures. The story indicates that a black vulture is smaller than the turkey vulture commonly found in our area. They are, however, migratory birds. They donít stay with us in the winter. We can be glad of that.

Anyway, as far as I know, a buzzard is still a buzzard and all of them are on the protected species list. We are not allowed to kill one and get caught at it.

Up in Iowa, these black vultures are killing newborn lambs as fast as they hit the ground. They have even killed what the folks in Iowa call ďpiglets.Ē In Texas, we just call them baby pigs. This brings up what they may call young baby bull calves. Are they called ďbullets?Ē Are they sleeping with their livestock in Iowa?

My experience with buzzards is rather limited though I did see one last week hovering over a dead car battery in my carport. I was camped out once in the Big Bend National Park and had bought a frozen T-Bone steak five minutes before the camp store closed. It was wrapped in plastic and I laid it on a table to thaw out. It was to be my only supper.

Shortly after I laid it down, a buzzard swooped down and got it and flew away. I chased that sucker all over that campground much to the amusement of a bunch of Yankees camped there. Occasionally, he would drop it but just before I got there, he would pick it up again. Finally, I reached the precious steak just as he dropped it.

The government, which tells us all what we can and canít do, says they have migrated to Iowa because trees they nested in have been cut down. Having spent some time in Iowa during military service, I donít recall seeing many trees. The government also says they render a service by ridding our highways of dead animals. Piglets, mostly, or maybe baby lambs.

Since they are a protected species, we can only hope that like down in the Hill Country, the sheep and goats will go on the rampage and wipe them out, or at least reduce their numbers. Unlike buzzards, I have never cared much for lamb chops. I like my meat to be red.

I donít personally know anybody who is going to sleep with buzzards to protect them.

Not even in the Hill Country.

Harry Marlinís column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletinís Viewpoint page. This column was originally published in November 2003. page. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net.