John Muir hated domestic sheep. He called them walking locusts, said that “a sheep can hardly be called an animal; an entire flock is required to make one foolish individual.” He spent weeks with a flock in the high Sierra and concluded that “sheep brain must surely be poor stuff.”
And he was not commonly known for hating animals.
He once described a grasshopper approaching his camp as a “crisp, electric spark of joy enlivening the massy sublimity of the mountains like the laugh of a child.” He wished goodnight to a bug in his ear, “restless, fussy fly with gauzy wings stirring the air around all the world.” He described a bear that nearly mauled him as a “rugged boulder of energy in groves and gardens as fair as eden.”
This man hated domestic sheep.
Was Muir wrong?
“He had no idea how bad they really were.”
That’s what Dr. John Wehausen, who spoke at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center this Thursday, told me.