The dilemma has come down to this: Should ranchers be allowed to graze their livestock on public lands, then expect both Government help and public support for killing any native wildlife there that conflicts with their non-native livestock?
Point 1: When ranchers plunk herds of domestic livestock in the forest or wild wolf territory, there will be conflict with predators.
How can there not be? These are not ‘problem wolves’, coyotes or mountain lions; they are simply native wildlife trying to survive, in their own territories, in their wild lands, just as they always have throughout the ages. By dumping helpless, non-native, introduced cattle, sheep and other livestock onto designated wild lands, ranchers are deliberately and knowingly offering up their livestock to the wolves.
How is any wild predator supposed to resist making an easy meal of such an offering?
Even so, the fact is that less than 2% of all livestock losses are due to predation by wolves – Even wolves on wild, public lands.
That should tell us something.
Point 2:, What about wild horses, who ranchers claim over-graze, destroying natural wild range lands for their domestic livestock?
Wild horses roamed North America long before any of us were here. Now ranchers find them inconvenient. And ranchers on public lands are the main reason Government employees are called upon to ‘cull’ (read: kill and remove) our spectacular wild horses, who are viewed as ‘competition for grazing land’, so non-native, invasive, introduced cattle can be cheaply fattened (and later sent to arguably grisly and inhumane deaths at our slaughterhouses).
It’s domestic cattle, not horses or other native wildlife, creating impoverished range land. Native species were here for thousands of years before we brought our cattle here, and the range was rich and bountiful. It doesn’t take non-native domestic cattle long to ruin all that.
As a result, our native wildlife (which belongs to us all) is sacrificed to keep the range supporting a species it isn’t prepared to support, to placate a minority of consumptive users and a controversial industry. (The issue might go even deeper – See The Mustang Conspiracy, a disturbing report on what’s really going on in wild horse territory and how it relates to BP oil interests.)
They even fence off scarce water sources in the desert so cattle can drink, while wild horses and other native wildlife die of thirst.
Our tax dollars are being used to annihilate our precious native wildlife for the monetary interests of an elite few – and a few who might not even be US based. And it’s not just wolves or wild horses being sacrificed – It’s beavers, prairie dogs, foxes, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, native plant communities, species of birds that ranchers or farmers find inconvenient – Even the iconic American Bison, symbol of the majestic West, once snatched back from the brink of extinction by a heroic long-term effort to restore the species. In an astounding turnaround, bison are now being eliminated for the benefit of public lands ranchers, even over the legitimate protests of Native Americans who feel a spiritual connection with them.
As the wolf, bison and wild horse massacre in the Western US escalates due to unrelenting pressure from livestock, oil and hunting lobbies, environmental and conservation/wildlife advocates are witnessing with mounting alarm how the wants of the whining few are jeopardizing us all, and unwinding decades of progress in maintaining and restoring ecological balance and biodiversity in America.
Is nothing sacred but the almighty dollar?
For background, readers should know that these lands, originally set aside to be preserved, untouched, without any human footprint, for perpetuity, for the health and sustainability of the planet and all people, were never meant to be modified to monoculture pasture-lands exclusively for raising domestic livestock. Ideally, there should actually be no logging, mining, hunting, trapping, roads or other consumptive uses on these lands.
Land and life that belongs to all should not be destroyed by any one.
Republican Harold Ickes went so far as to defy his contemporaries to stop timber interests and to ensure roadless and unspoiled natural parks.
That is what a National land should be – Sacred, complete, protected and intrinsically valuable without being exploited by anybody.
Now all that is in jeopardy.
Readers may try to justify current management practice changes, claiming that times have changed since then.
Yes, they have.
Preserving intact wild lands and fully functioning, biologically diverse plant and animal communities, is even more important than we had ever guessed. Knowledge of ecological systems is deeper now; for instance the benefit of virgin old-growth forest is now seen to be far more important than first realized (ie: the unique inter-dependent wildlife, fungi, micro-organisms, loam, topsoil, root systems and ancient trees are needed intact, and are not ‘renewable’ in the sense that they are not simply interchangeable for young, new growth forest areas).
Same with tall-grass prairies, wetlands, mangroves – in fact, the deeper we look, the more science acknowledges that we mustn’t meddle with Nature’s inherent order.
These National lands are needed for their intrinsic value in maintaining the health of our living Earth, and are best left as pristine and raw as possible. They are for all wildlife, complete plant and animal communities – So that we may observe, learn and cherish – not to mention as a place of rest, breathing and renewal for the Earth.
And for us.
So why, when a rancher trucks his livestock into public lands/wildlife territory, do our Government workers go in (on our tax dollar, on their behalf), and put up fences, remove native plant and animal communities (including beavers, prairie dogs and birds), assist with creating monoculture pastures, (deliberately decreasing needed biodiversity), and then encourage still more public lands grazing permits by not only monetarily compensating ranchers for any losses from natural, native predators, but launching lynching parties to kill wolves and other wildlife once said predators show up?
Ranchers aren’t even required to prove they’ve used any of the non-lethal, proven deterrent methods (fladry, guard dogs, range riders, etc) before the poor wolves are hunted down and killed.
That seems to this author like entrapment; luring wild predators who can’t resist the temptation of an easy meal dropped right into their laps, then punishing them with death (or, possibly, eventual extinction).
How do you feel about sacrificing our native wildlife for the benefit of foreign business owners? Swift Foods, which is now owned by Brazilian meat producer JBS S.A. (SAO:JBSS3), is the third largest US beef producer with 18.5% of the US market, was also in oil and insurance products, and has been implicated in a series of serious legal actions.
So these aren’t all wholesome little American family ranchers we’re talking about.
Also bear in mind that US consumption of beef has been dropping steadily since 2002. So also has the ‘inventory’ of cattle – So why are we still killing off our native wildlife and ruining natural habitats and rangelands to keep pushing beef production?
More, major exploiters of natural resources and wildlife (loggers, hunters, trappers, oil companies, developers etc., many of them owned by overseas companies) are actively attempting to fight US environmental protection legislation in favor of what they term ‘fair use’ (as if they haven’t had largely unrestrained access to the Nation’s natural resources already, engaging in activities which damaged the environment, including wetlands, prairies and ancient forests, enough to actually spark the environmental movement to begin with.)
Monoculture, agriculture and modification of wild lands for cultivation is also bad news for the Earth, resulting not just in loss of biodiversity but in triggering droughts, desertification of the land, increased salt content in cultivated lands through irrigation and use of petroleum-based fertilizers, increase in noxious weeds and pesticide resistant insects – It goes on and on.
It’s bad enough it happens on privately owned lands, but to allow it to spill over into our natural buffer area, our National heritage and treasure, the Earth’s lungs and heart, our priceless wild areas, imperils not just the future of Nature as we know (and need) Her, but our own futures as well.
When is enough, enough? When will the rest of us, who value and need wild areas and wild life for our souls, for the good of the living Earth, going to be respected and not just thrown a bone?
When will America learn to honor, respect and preserve Her heritage?
Isn’t that what our public lands should be about – Our National Forests? Our National Parks? Our unblemished future?
And here’s the coups de gras – Exploiters don’t just exploit, they double-dip.
Even if it can’t be proven, if a rancher claims a wolf killed his cow, he not only gets paid for the loss (something that wouldn’t happen if the cow simply died of weather, disease, parasites, birthing problems, other predators or any other cause of death), but he gets to call out the Government death squads (in helicopters, no less) to go out and gun down, trap, snare, poison or bludgeon any and all wolves in the area – innocent wolves, most likely, and even puppies still in their dens.
And all of it is paid for with our tax dollars. Whether or not we even eat beef.
Ranchers should thank wolves for such a stepping stone into Government paychecks.
Not slaughter them.
Why are ranchers allowed so much compensation from the Government when, if any of the rest of us suffer a business-related loss, if our insurance doesn’t cover it, we pretty much just have to swallow it?
So think about it:
Wild horse roundups and slaughter.
Wolf/native predator massacre.
Lethal wildlife removal.
Do you still support grazing cattle on public lands?
* UPDATE 8/31/12
From personal correspondence with wind industry and bird of prey expert Jim Wiegand, when asked about detrimental wind industry development on Public Lands: “The wind industry has HUGE plans to expand on BLM land. In the process they will be killing many eagles and they know it. They are laying a bogus foundation for their expansion by putting out fraudulent golden eagles numbers. They are over estimating their population by 4-5 times.”
So now we know all wildlife is at risk from special interests doing business for profit on our public lands.
Industrial scale wind development will surely put still more pressure on these sensitive landscapes, as well as the wolves, wild horses, eagles and other creatures the lands were designated to protect. Between cattle grazing, utility development, logging, mining and other destructive uses of land that was meant to be preserved and protected for future generations, our grandchildren may never see a truly wild wolf, eagle or wild horse, at all.
It seems high time to re-write the protective covenants for our public lands to ban such destructive and exploitative uses .