Mr. Gosney after being shown the interview printed in the December 5th newspaper stated, “Mr. Bark is certainly the champion anti-sheep agitator of the west. He seems to have fought the sheep industry so long and so hard that he is ready to believe and quote as true every wild rumor and is unable to state real facts involved in the question.” Mr. Gosney addressed all of Mr. Bark’s complaints leaving nothing out of his remarks: the drought, the number of sheep driven into the Salt River Valley, the abundant range feed this year, and the benefits sheep men added to the local economies of their counties.
Mr. Gosney first began that it was common knowledge in Arizona that a five-year drought was just broken when the territory had an abundant fall of snow and rain in the last twelve months. He further stated that there never has been or will there ever be 200,000 sheep driven to the Salt River Valley. (the two men’s numbers don’t seem to agree as Mr. Bark stated 300,000 and Gosney said 200,000 of which the newspaper never asked for correction).
Sheep from New Mexico had been brought into the territory Gosney said, agreeing with Mr. Bark’s statement. The reason that sheep came from the neighboring state was the range feed was very abundant and Arizona’s sheep could not feed on all of it. In answer to Bark’s claim that “sheep destroying the ranges and leaving nothing behind is pure nonsense,” Gosney said. The range was so abundantly covered with feed that the sheep would not have been able to eat even a “one- tenth” of it as they were trailed south. Gosney continued, “In fact nine-tenths of the feed on the southern ranges consumed by sheep could not be harvested by cattle or any other kind of stock; because it is inaccessible to water and only lasts for a short time, when it is abundant, then gone.” As for Bark’s comment that sheep have put the cattle men out of business, he adamantly disagrees as he also had interest in cattle and two factors eliminated his cattle: “climatic uncertainties and the activity of the numerous rustlers.”
Gosney also refuted the claim that the Salt River Valley watershed has been harmed by the sheep. He stated that the farmers in the Verde Valley would be the first to notice the reduced flow of water and they have not complained.
Gosney left nothing unturned in his refuted remarks to the claims by Bark. He made two last points on the benefits of the sheep men within the state. The first is that sheep were taxed in their home county and any sheep from Apache, Navajo or Coconino counties would have been illegally assessed in Maricopa County and this should be looked into as to why it was done. Sheepmen do pay their taxes and the totals paid by them in their home counties would be easily accessed for verification of this truth.
Gosney finished his defense of the sheep industry with the following: “The importance of the sheep business to the territories is generally underestimated. The income from this industry is (was) more than a million dollars and the great number of men employed annually and the heavy expense of caring for sheep and wool, all of which is(was) expended in the counties and districts where the sheep graze for the time being, makes it a matter of importance to the territory and to the people of those localities. The sheepmen are (were) among the best citizens of the territory. They are (were) imposing on no one, and they as well as the industry deserve fair consideration and treatment, and we sincerely hope the people and press of the territory will not be misled by intemperate agitators, into class or sectional strife.”
“If we are prepared for statehood let us prove it by being honest and fair to every citizen and every industry within our borders.”
This was the end of the two men’s square off as nothing more was printed in the newspaper for 1903 or the beginning of 1904.