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It’s always the ranchers

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Source:  The Wildlife Society

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A week ago, I was touring Montana public lands with my 13-year-old daughter. As we approached Yellowstone National Park, I explained how the slaughter of bison was largely to appease the livestock industry, pushed by a handful of ranchers who didn’t want bison migrating out of the Park. Bison, as it turns out, eat the same grass as cattle, and can carry the livestock disease brucellosis. Even though there has never been a documented case of cattle catching brucellosis from bison – not even one – in the Yellowstone ecosystem (all known cases were traced back to elk, according to the National Academy of Sciences), cattle producers fear losing “brucellosis-free” status which would make it harder for them to market their cattle. “It’s always the ranchers,” my daughter exclaimed.

She’s right.

Earlier in the week, we had visited the Thunder Basin National Grassland to see prairie dogs, a rare and sensitive native wildlife species and also the very linchpin of grassland wildlife diversity. Instead, we looked out on empty prairie dog colonies, decimated by lethal poisoning and sylvatic plague. The disease borne by fleas, was kept in check for years by conservation nonprofits who dusted the burrows with a flea-killing powder. But in 2017, the Forest Service started denying dusting permits to the conservationists, and stopped authorizing the non-lethal relocation of prairie dogs away from private land boundaries.

Recently, the Forest Service caved even further in to politically-connected ranchers with an anti-prairie dog plan amendment for the national grassland that includes expanded prairie dog poisoning programs and more recreational shooting of the animals. The livestock boosters want prairie dogs killed by plague, poisons, and bullets – so their non-native cattle would have more grass to eat.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

The Bureau of Land Management’s nefarious, brutal plan for wild horses

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photo by Carol Walker

SOURCE:  washingtonexaminer.com

“Subsidized livestock already outnumber wild horses and burros by over 37 to 1, yet livestock overgrazing is a top cause of damage to federal rangelands.”

By Ginger Kathrens & Charlotte Roe

Environmental travesties are on the rise, many obscured by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the biggest ones will soon be taken up by Congress.

In its long-overdue report to Congress, the Bureau of Land Management proposes capturing and removing 220,000 wild horses and burros over 10 years to achieve its unsupported, arbitrary “appropriate management level” of 26,690 — a near-extinction population level.

It will cost American taxpayers $1 billion to expel these animals from the dedicated rangelands where they currently live at no cost to taxpayers. Thousands of wild mares could be subjected to ovariectomy, a discredited, brutal form of sterilization. In the end, hundreds of thousands of once-wild animals will languish in crowded holding pens — and taxpayers will be footing the bill.

Wild horses are federally protected animals. The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act established their ranges as dedicated habitat to be “managed principally ” for their welfare. Flouting this law, the BLM has removed wild equids from nearly half of their designated 52 million acres. Now, government machinery is accelerating to remove most of the rest.

The BLM plans to wipe out three herd management areas in Wyoming’s famed Checkerboard and sterilize an entire herd in a fourth — “zeroing out” 2.5 million acres of their habitat for continual use by privately owned livestock.

In Nevada, the BLM intends to eliminate six herds in the Caliente Complex, imprisoning 1,700 wild horses at taxpayer expense. They will also take 1,800 wild horses from Oregon’s Barren Valley, proposing sterilization as “management,” killing off the “wild” in these wild horses.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

America’s Rangelands Deeply Damaged by Overgrazing

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photo: BLM

SOURCE:  PEER.org

Figures Show Vast Areas Failing BLM’s Own Rangeland Health Standards

Washington, DC — The Bureau of Land Management’s most recent data on the health of federal rangelands reveal extensive damage from excessive commercial livestock grazing, according to figures posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  Last month, BLM announced its intent to rewrite its grazing rules without specifying the measures it is considering.

BLM’s Standards for Rangeland Health prescribe the minimum quality of water, vegetation and soils, as well as the ability to support wildlife, required by the agency for permitting livestock grazing.  The most recent (2018) rangeland health report on BLM grazing allotments across 150 million acres in 13 Western states shows –

  • Of total acres assessed, 42% fail to meet BLM Standards for Rangeland Health, totaling nearly 40 million acres, approximately the area of Washington State;
  • The largest portion (70%) of range health failure is due to livestock overgrazing in allotments covering nearly 28 million acres, an area the size of Pennsylvania; and
  • These figures are underestimates because nearly 40 percent of these federal rangelands – nearly 59 million acres or an area about the size of Oregon – have never been assessed.

“By its own yardstick, BLM is a poor steward of our federal rangeland,” stated PEER Advocacy Director Kristen Stade…

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Please Comment Against the Destruction of 40% of Wyoming’s Wild Horse Herds

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The Bureau of Land Management is developing a new Resource Management Plan in Wyoming and has an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for proposed changes to the management of four wild horse herds in Wyoming: Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin and White Mountain. The BLM’s proposed actions in their “Preferred Alternative” would zero out the Great Divide Basin Herd, zero out the Salt Wells Creek Herd and the White Mountain Herd and cut the Adobe Town Appropriate Management Level by half. Comments are due on this plan by April 30.

Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town and White Mountain encompass 2,811,401acres, 70 percent of which is federally managed public land and 30% is mostly private lands with some state owned lands.

At issue here is the Checkerboard – a mix of public and private lands 20 miles wide that was set up in the 1870s, when the government was selling private land plots to raise money for the railroad. The private land, about 891,807 acres, is owned by Occidental, the parent company of Anadarko, and the Rock Springs Grazing Association, an association of 24 families. The Rock Springs Grazing Association has been working very hard over the last 8 years to get all of the horses removed from the Checkerboard area even though it is not all private land – it is a mix of private and public land. They have been involved in 4 lawsuits regarding the status of wild horses on federally protected public lands and this proposal is the latest, most sweeping and devastating attempt to have all the wild horses removed. RSGA and the BLM have been attempting to manage the Checkerboard as if it were all private land but it is not, and that is illegal.

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NY Times writer gets it wrong: What we’ve really got is a “livestock crisis” looming in the West

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by Debbie Coffey

David Philipps’ New York Times article “A Mustang Crisis Looms in the West” (3/22/20) requires correction for falsely blaming degradation of public lands in the West on wild horses, in both the headline and the body of the article.

Data and maps from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conclusively show private livestock, not wild horses, are overwhelming public lands in the West, both in grazing territory and sheer numbers (relative to wild horses).

BLM Grazing Allotments                                     Wild Horse Herd Management Areas
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William Perry Pendley (not wild horses) may be the biggest threat to public lands

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Source:  The Hill

Trump administration calls wild horses biggest threat to public lands — here are the real threats

“The livestock industry continues to run roughshod over the vast majority of our Western public lands, causing a cascade of major environmental problems.”

BY ERIK MOLVAR, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley told the Society of Environmental Journalists in Colorado on Friday that wild horses were the biggest problem facing federal public lands in the West.

The silliness of this statement becomes obvious when one considers that wild horses don’t exist on more than 85 percent of BLM lands, and where they do occur, they have to share the range with domestic livestock which typically have an even bigger impact on the land.

Pendley’s misstatement would be funny if it weren’t so dishonest and is symptomatic of major problems stemming from placing one of the nation’s most vitriolic opponents of environmental conservation in charge of our biggest land management agency.

Let’s examine some of the real problems facing the Bureau of Land Management, from the standpoint of an environmental professional, to put Pendley’s claims in some context.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Erik Molvar is a wildlife biologist and executive director with Western Watersheds Project, an environmental conservation group dedicated to protecting and restoring watersheds and wildlife throughout the West.

Action alert to save Washington state wolves. WA basically killing wolves for one rancher

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A message from Brooks Fahy, Exec. Dir. of Predator Defense:

Tell Washington Gov. Inslee there is no need for his wolf slaughter.  There are simply places in Washington where cows should not be.

The picture above was taken in the core territory of the Profanity Peak wolf pack, which Washington wildlife managers destroyed in 2016 after a rancher dumped his cows to graze near the wolves’ den and rendezvous sites. As you can see, the terrain is essentially indefensible. It is rugged, forested and remote. It is no place for cows.

Seventeen of the 22 wolves killed to date in Washington State were killed on behalf of this one rancher, Len McIrvin, who refuses to follow science-based, common sense measures to protect his cattle. Other ranchers have had great success in preventing losses. For starters, they are not dumping them in the heart of wolf territory.

But McIrvin, who has been overheard expressing his hatred for wolves, apparently doesn’t believe they deserve a place to live in peace, except perhaps in zoos? He does believe his cattle should be able to graze on and destroy our public lands, lands for which he pays a fraction of market rate. And he obviously doesn’t care about healthy ecosystems, which require the presence of wolves, or the fact that thousands of people want to be able to see wolves in the wild and could bring tourism dollars to struggling rural economies.

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Kirsten Stade, Advocacy Director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 3/21/18)

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painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us for Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, March 21, 2018

5:00 p.m. PST … 6:00 p.m. MST … 7:00 p.m. CST … 8:00 p.m. EST

Listen Live (HERE!)

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Erik Molvar, Exec. Dir. of Western Watersheds Project, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Fri., 1/19/18)

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Please sign petition to rectify the heavy impact of livestock grazing on public lands

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photo: Western Watersheds Project

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION HERE.

SOURCE: Petitions.whitehouse.gov

We the people ask the federal government to Call on Congress to act on an issue:

Livestock Grazing on Public Lands Rectify the Heavy Impact

Created by T.B. on November 23, 2017

Reductions will address ecological problems caused by commercial livestock grazing such as:

● displacement of wildlife, reduction of wildlife populations;
● degradation is occurring to the land;
● transmission of pathogens;
● degradation is occurring to plant communities;
● native wildlife are killed to advance the interests of public lands ranchers;
● livestock are damaging to sensitive wetlands or riparian areas; or
● Ruminant grazing contributes to the nitrogen load in streams as well as nitrous oxide gasses also
a greenhouse gas.

Livestock grazing extremists obscure real-world solutions

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by Debbie Coffey

In my opinion…

We need to find a fix for the unhealthy populations of non-native, domestic cattle and sheep on public lands.

Imagine a proposal to introduce privately owned livestock onto the public lands of the American West. The owners of the privately owned livestock would successfully gain use of 229 million acres of public lands in the West. The livestock would be owned by a politically powerful industry that attracted a passionate following — people who love using public lands for their private profit so much that they influence the federal management of their privately owned animals so that they would rarely, if ever, be restricted by law. Some of them would be so passionate that they would take over and occupy government buildings for 41 days, and end up costing taxpayers at least $9 million, including $2.3 million on federal law enforcement and $1.7 million to replace damaged or stolen property.

The downside of these privately owned livestock would be that they destroy native vegetation, damage soils and stream banks, and contaminate waterways with fecal waste. After decades of livestock grazing, once-lush streams and riparian forests have been reduced to flat, dry wastelands; once-rich topsoil has been turned to dust, causing soil erosion, stream sedimentation and wholesale elimination of some aquatic habitats; overgrazing of native fire-carrying grasses has starved some western forests of fire, making them overly dense and prone to unnaturally severe fires. Not to mention that predators like the grizzly and Mexican gray wolf were driven extinct in southwestern ecosystems by “predator control” programs designed to protect the livestock industry. More

Big Cattle, Big Gulp: Cowboys and cows are soaking the American West dry

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Source: New Republic

“Every stream on public lands grazed by livestock is polluted and shows a huge surge in E. coli bacterial contamination during the grazing season,” says Marvel. “No wonder we can’t drink the water.”

Marvel, who retired from WWP last year, spent two decades haranguing and suing the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the government bodies that are supposed to regulate ranching on the public domain. “Forest Service and BLM staffers see their job as the protection and enabling of ranchers. They are the epitome of what is meant by agency capture.”

by Christopher Ketcham More

Stephen Nash, author of “Grand Canyon for Sale,” on special interests controlling public lands that belong to all Americans.

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Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 More

Kirsten Stade of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 2/24/16)

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Jonathan Ratner of Western Watersheds Project on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., Feb. 10th)

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Join us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, Feb. 10th, 2016 More

Erik Molvar of WildEarth Guardians on livestock grazing, oil & gas issues and more, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 4/8/15)

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Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesday (*SM) , April 8, 2015

6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST

Listen To The Archived Show Here!

This is a 1 hour show.  Call in with questions during the 2nd half hour.  

Call in # (917) 388-4520

_____________________________________________

Erik Molvar Headshot

Our guest tonight is Erik Molvar, M.S., Sagebrush Sea Campaign Director for WildEarth Guardians.

Erik Molvar joined WildEarth Guardians in 2013 as their Sagebrush Sea Campaign Director.  He received a M. Sc. in Wildlife Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he authored a number of scientific studies on the evolutionary biology, population dynamics, and ecology of Alaskan moose.

Erik spent 13 years as Wildlife Biologist and later Executive Director for Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Wyoming, where he specialized in sage grouse conservation and oil and gas issues.  He served four years on the Laramie City Council, where he moved a national resolution on hydraulic fracking through the National League of Cities.

WildEarth Guardians states “Between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada exists a vast legacy of boundless and untamed lands: we call it the Sagebrush Sea and much of it belongs to every American. Decisive conservation action on nearly 80 million acres of this landscape has long been delayed and denied.”

Key objectives of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign are to retire livestock grazing from millions of acres by offering ranchers an equitable exit strategy and to secure federal legislation that authorizes voluntary and permanent grazing permit retirement.  WildEarth Guardians also works at saving prairie dogs and sage grouse.

one_bird_page_graphic

Erik is also a professional writer and photographer, and has authored 16 guidebooks to national parks and wilderness areas across the West.

Read Erik’s 25th Anniversary Story “How the West Was Won“.  To read many interesting reports by WildEarth Guardians, click HERE.

Tonight’s radio show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

________________________________________

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Sustainable Cowboys or Welfare Ranchers of the American West?

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Source:  THE DAILY PITCHFORK

Report analyzes taxpayer bailout of U.S. public lands ranching [Part II of a series on ranchers]

by Vickery Eckhoff

Cliven-Bundy-on-Horseback-e1423775080754-620x264 Public lands livestock operators each cost taxpayers nearly a quarter of a million dollars in subsidies over the last decade. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher)

Five hundred million dollars[1]. That’s what 21,000[2] ranchers who graze their livestock on America’s iconic western rangelands are estimated to have cost US taxpayers in 2014 — and every year for the past decade. This averages out to an annual taxpayer subsidy of $23,809 per rancher — approximately a quarter of a million dollars each since 2005. So why does this small subset, representing just 2.7% of US livestock producers, protest the “welfare rancher” label?

 The public lands grazing program is welfare.

That $23,809 — and it’s a lowball figure — is a form of public assistance similar to other welfare programs. The only difference is, it doesn’t arrive as a check in the mail. It instead represents a loss covered by taxpayers: the very large difference between what public lands ranchers pay in fees to the US government and what public lands grazing costs taxpayers every year. But it’s still a subsidy, as a newly updated economic analysis, Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands, makes clear. And the recipients aren’t low income; a large number are millionaires and some are billionaires and multi-billion dollar corporations. Cattle barons, if you will.

Public lands ranching costs western ecosystems, wildlife and taxpayers.

“Several federal agencies permit livestock grazing on public lands in the United States, the largest being the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Agriculture’s United States Forest Service (USFS).

The vast majority of livestock grazing on BLM and USFS rangelands occurs in the 11 western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Rangelands are non-irrigated and generally have vegetation that consists mostly of grasses, herbs and/or shrubs. They are different from pastureland, which may periodically be planted, fertilized, mowed or irrigated.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

The Media Adores Ranchers. Here’s Why They Shouldn’t. [Part I]

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SOURCE:  The Daily Pitchfork

by Vickery Eckhoff

rancher-1a-620x264

The US livestock industry has enormous economic and political clout. But news reports consistently highlight a small segment of it — ranchers grazing livestock on federally-managed western grasslands — as news sources, granting them undue influence on policy issues in which they have a large economic stake.

This bias has occurred despite a decade’s worth of empirical evidence showing that public-lands ranchers — who rely on hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies but represent only 2.7 percent of the nation’s total livestock operators — fleece US taxpayers, public lands and protected species in order to graze livestock (mostly cattle) on the cheap.

The media bias seems endemic. Whether discussing wild horses, bison, predator species (wolves, coyote, cougars and bears), sage grouse or desert tortoises, livestock operators and lawmakers from western states are consistently allowed to present themselves in news reports as stewards of 230 million acres of grasslands, forest and wildlife habitat that nearly everyone agrees have been compromised.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Study: Livestock Grazing on Public Lands Cost Taxpayers $1 Billion Over Past Decade

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Information supplied by The Center for Biological Diversity

BLM’s Welfare Ranching Bedfellows come with a huge price tag…

WASHINGTON— A new analysis  finds U.S. taxpayers have lost more than $1 billion over the past decade on a program that allows cows and sheep to graze on public land. Last year alone taxpayers lost $125 million in grazing subsidies on federal land. Had the federal government charged fees similar to grazing rates on non-irrigated private land, the program would have made $261 million a year on average rather than operate at a staggering loss, the analysis finds.

Click Image to Download Full Report

Click Image to Download Full Report

The study, Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands, comes as the Obama administration prepares Friday to announce grazing fees for the upcoming year on 229 million acres of publicly owned land, most of it in the West. The report was prepared by economists on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Public lands grazing has been a billion-dollar boondoggle over the past decade and hasn’t come close to paying for itself,” said Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity. More

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