The meat industry could be driving wildlife extinct

http://www.salon.com/2014/03/21/its_not_just_cows_the_meat_industry_could_be_driving_wildlife_extinct/?source=newsletter

by Lindsay Abrams

Ok, so you don’t feel bad about cows having to die in order for you to enjoy a hamburger. That’s fine — most people feel the same way. But what about the grizzly bears? Or the wolves? Or the 175 other species threatened by extinction? Would you keep eating that burger if you found out it was endangering all of those animals, too?

Well, would you?

A new campaign from the Center for Biological Diversity is presenting a broader perspective on the environmental damage wrought by the livestock industry. NPR has the scoop:

The conservation group says that some populations of grizzly bears and wolves have already been driven extinct by the livestock industry, and an additional 175 threatened or endangered species, like the prairie dog, could be next. Most of this drama is playing out on federal lands, where the needs of wildlife conflict with the needs of grazing cattle, says [population and sustainability director Stephanie Feldstein].

The federal government has for decades promoted and subsidized cattle grazing on 270 million acres of public lands in 11 Western states. According to Feldstein, one of the hot spots of livestock-wildlife conflict is predator species like wolves and bears preying on cattle.

The California grizzly subspecies, for example, was driven extinct in the 1920s by hunters assisting farmers and ranchers, according to historical documents at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ranchers also all but wiped out the Mexican gray wolf, the most endangered wolf species in the world, in the U.S. (A few survived in Mexico and in zoos, and scientists have been trying to bring them back through breeding, the group Defenders of Wildlife says.)

A study published back in January adds large carnivores, like pumas, lions and sea otters, to the list of meat industry casualties. All that, of course, comes along with the major impact our growing demand for meat has on the climate. Taken together, it’s worth considering whether that burger is, in fact, worth it.

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

If You Love Wolves, Love Elk and Hate Hunting

Wolf advocates have known for a long time now that ranching is the nemesis of all things natural and wild, and that if you want to help the wolves, boycott beef, leather, wool, lamb and mutton. But lately hunters like those in the Idaho trophy elk hunting industry have been out to prove that they are a wolf’s gravest threat.

Not only do certain Idahoans want to run wolves out of lands cleared for ranching, they want to eliminate them from the wilderness as well.

They see public lands, such as the Lolo National Forest and the Frank Church wilderness area, as private breeding grounds for elk specimens they love to kill, and they’re not willing to share those specimens with the likes of wolves.

Some wolf lovers respond with hatred for the cows and sheep themselves, and disregard for deer and elk. But wolves need elk and deer to survive, therefore wolf lovers should also be elk and deer lovers and wilderness advocates. Ultimately, a true wolf lover is not only anti-cattle and sheep ranching, but also anti-deer, moose, caribou and elk hunting.

Wolf advocates who are indifferent to ungulates and accepting of hunting and ranching will never see an end to wolf hunting or “control.”

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

NPR: MT Ranchers Learn to Tolerates Wolves

Gray wolves are a controversial and polarizing animal in much of the American West. Wolves have slowly come back from extinction, forcing people to learn how to coexist with the cunning predator. One farmer is teaching his cattle to huddle together as bison do when threatened — there is safety in numbers.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Efforts to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list across most of the lower 48 states hit a hurdle yesterday. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service panel said the scientific research is insufficient to make a decision. The ruling disappointed those who see wolves as cunning predators who threaten their livestock. NPR’s Nathan Rott spent several weeks in Montana, a state where wolves are no longer on the list, talking to people there about the troubled relations between the two species.

And while he encountered a lot of polarization, he also found there are people trying to seek ways that humans and wolves can coexist.

Transcript continues here: http://www.npr.org/2014/02/08/273577607/montana-ranchers-learn-ways-to-live-with-wolves

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New Rules Would Allow Montana Landowners to Shoot, Trap More Wolves

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/zstrong/new_rules_would_allow_montana.html

This originally appeared on The Wildlife News.

copyrighted wolf in riverLast week, more than a million Americans registered their opposition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) proposed plan to remove Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in most of the lower-48 states. This was the largest number of comments ever submitted on a federal action involving endangered species.

One of the reasons so many of us oppose the plan is because removing federal protections from wolves means handing their management over to state governments and wildlife agencies. Unfortunately, many states have demonstrated hostility toward wolf conservation, such as with overly aggressive hunting and trapping seasons, the designation of “predator zones” where wolves may be killed year-round without a permit, and large appropriations of taxpayer dollars doled out to anti-wolf lobbyists. If states are allowed to take the reins now, before wolves have had a chance to recover in places like the Pacific West, southern Rockies, and northern New England, wolves may never get the chance.

Continuing the disturbing pattern of state aggression toward wolves, Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks (“FWP”) Commission recently proposed several amendments to the state’s wolf management rules that would greatly expand the circumstances under which landowners could legally kill wolves on their property. NRDC testified against, and submitted a letter opposing, many of the proposed changes, because they are unnecessary, impossibly vague, and would result in the trapping and killing of many non-threatening, non-offending wolves and other animals.

For example, one of the proposed amendments would allow landowners to kill any wolf, anytime, anywhere on their property, without a permit, whenever the wolf constitutes a “potential threat” to humans or domestic animals. Yet the amendment does not define “potential threat” or provide any clear examples of when a wolf is or is not acting “potentially threatening.” This is a big problem because some landowners (as one sitting next to me loudly announced during a recent public hearing) consider all wolves on their property “potential threats”—despite, for example, the fact that wolves commonly travel near and among livestock while completely ignoring them.

And even if “potential threat” was clearly defined, such a rule would be unnecessary. Montana law already allows a person to kill a wolf if it is “attacking, killing, or threatening to kill” a person, dog, or livestock, or to receive a 45-day kill permit for a wolf that has already done so. Further, the state pays ranchers the full market value of livestock losses when government investigators confirm, or even think it was probable, that the animal was killed by a wolf. These measures already safeguard ranchers and their property; allowing “potentially threatening” wolves to also be killed seems more a guise for further reducing the state’s wolf population than providing needed assistance to landowners.

Another amendment would allow landowners with a kill permit to use foothold traps to kill wolves that have attacked livestock. Such an amendment is unnecessary, because kill permits already allow landowners to shoot these wolves. Further, foothold traps are non-selective, and would be more likely to capture a non-threatening, non-offending animal than a specific wolf. In fact, foothold traps are so indiscriminate, and cause such prolonged pain and suffering, that they have been banned in more than 80 countries, and banned or severely restricted in several U.S. states.

Allowing the use of foothold traps could also result in the capture and killing of threatened and endangered species such as wolverines, lynx and grizzly bears, as well as black bears, deer, elk, moose, mountain lions, eagles, and, yes, landowners’ own dogs and livestock—the very animals these traps would supposedly be protecting. The odds of incidental captures would be particularly high, given that landowners would be allowed to leave these traps out a full month and a half after the livestock attack had occurred.

A third amendment would remove the requirement that FWP set quotas during the wolf hunting and trapping seasons. Quotas, when used properly, help ensure against hunters and trappers killing unsustainable numbers of wolves, entire packs, wolves that primarily inhabit protected areas, and wolves that pose little or no threat to domestic animals (such as wolves that reside in wilderness areas or in places where little or no grazing occurs). Given that this year FWP extended the season by two months, increased the number of wolves one could kill from one to five, and authorized the use of electronic calls (some of which mimic the cries of pups), it should be proposing to institute more quotas, not fewer.

Like FWS’ proposed “delisting,” the FWP Commission’s proposed amendments are simply not rooted in science or conservation. Instead, ironically, two agencies tasked with recovering and sustaining healthy wolf populations have manufactured the species’ newest threats. Both proposals should be dropped, and conversations begun anew about new ways to conserve and manage, not kill, these animals. Let’s discuss how to treat them as they deserve to be treated—not as saints, not as demons, but, very simply, as the wild, intelligent, ecologically critical creatures that they are.

Montana is a backward wolf massacre state

http://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/montana-is-a-backward-wolf-massacre-state/article_4125d0d7-2f81-53b8-be26-a95b9c59af7f.html

Regarding allowing ranchers to kill perceived “threatening wolves” (Senate Bill 200): Montana policy wolf qualifies it, from wolf conservationists’ perspectives, as a backward wolf massacre state.

This attitude is evidenced by $19 tags for five wolves; not having a real quota; by having a trapping season beyond and through the hunting season; an attitude of “we need to drive down the population” without any science behind such thinking; an attitude of not holding the rancher responsible in any way for taking preventive, good husbandry, measures.

It is political management, not scientific management. Now it will be in evidence with a policy of allowing a rancher to kill a wolf “perceived” as a threat, which to a rancher and guests will likely mean any wolf seen, which will all equate to open season on wolves, with much of it on leased public land.

Wolves kill around 65 cattle annually in a state that has 5.5 million which is 0.001 percent. There are 3,776 leases on BLM land and 772 on national forest lands. Ranchers are reimbursed for losses. Oregon has a model for Montana, although Montana rule makers are too backward and obstinate to listen and learn. The Oregon wolf management model requires ranchers to have nonlethal deterrents in place and to have used them, and then only kill chronic offenders.

Wolves are not vermin. Wolves are apex predators that are good for wildlife ecology, having a positive cascading effect throughout the food chain versus ecological unhealthy man wildlife killing.

References: The Hidden Life of Wolves, Jamie and Jim Dutcher; The Wolf Almanac, Robert Busch

Roger Hewitt

Great Falls
Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/montana-is-a-backward-wolf-massacre-state/article_4125d0d7-2f81-53b8-be26-a95b9c59af7f.html#ixzz2nl6OgwYZ

Cattle Ranchers Given Wolves’ GPS Coordinates

[The fox is guarding the henhouse, so to speak. And I thought those tracking collars were only meant to be used for scientific purposes...]

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/nov/10/cattle-ranchers-track-wolves-with-gps-computers/

Cattle ranchers track wolves with GPS, computers

Becky Kramer The Spokesman-Review

COLVILLE – Before the sun breaks over the mountains, Leisa

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Hill is firing up a generator in a remote cow camp in eastern Stevens County.

Soon she’ll be poring over satellite data points on her laptop, tracking the recent wanderings of a GPS-collared wolf.

Hill is a range rider whose family grazes 1,300 head of cattle in the Smackout pack’s territory. Knowing the collared wolf’s whereabouts helps her plan her day.

She’ll spend the next 12 to 16 hours visiting the scattered herd by horseback or ATV. Through the regular patrols, she’s alerting the Smackout pack that cattle aren’t easy prey.

Her work is paying off. Last year, 100 percent of the herd returned from the U.S. Forest Service allotments and private pastures that provide summer and fall forage. This year’s count isn’t final, but the tallies look promising, said Hill’s dad, John Dawson.

“We’ve lost nothing to wolves,” he said.

Hill’s range rider work is part of a pilot that involves two generations of a northeastern Washington ranch family, the state and Conservation Northwest. The aim is to keep Washington’s growing wolf population out of trouble.

Last year, government trappers and sharpshooters killed seven members of the Wedge pack for repeatedly attacking another Stevens County rancher’s cattle.

That short-term fix came at a high political price: The state Department of Fish and Wildlife received 12,000 emails about the decision, mostly in opposition. Two wolves have again been spotted in the Wedge pack’s territory, either remnants of the original pack or new wolves moving in.

It upped the ante for all sides to be proactive.

Ranchers can’t fight public opinion

Many Washington residents want wolves, said Dawson, a 70-year-old rancher whose son, Jeff, also runs a Stevens County cattle operation.

“I can’t fight that,” John Dawson said of public opinion. “You have to meet in the middle; you have no choice.

“We put most of our cattle in wolf territory for the summer,” he said. “I’ve been trying to learn as much as possible about wolves so we can meet them at the door.”

For ranchers, “it’s a new business now, a new world,” said Jay Kehne of Conservation Northwest, a Bellingham-based environmental group that works on issues across Washington and British Columbia.

Conservation Northwest supported last year’s controversial decision to remove the Wedge pack. “We wanted to do what we felt was scientifically right, what was supported by the evidence, what people knowledgeable about cattle and wolf behavior were telling us,” Kehne said.

But the organization obviously prefers preventive, nonlethal measures, he said. Conservation Northwest had talked to Alberta and Montana cattle ranchers who use range riders and was looking for Washington ranchers willing to try it. The Dawsons were interested.

Conservation Northwest helps finance three range riders in Washington – the Dawsons in Stevens County, and others in Cle Elem and Wenatchee.

Hiring a range rider costs $15,000 to $20,000 for the five-month grazing season, Kehne said. The state and individual ranchers, including Dawson, also contribute to the cost.

In addition, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife provides daily satellite downloads on GPS-collared wolves to help range riders manage the cows.

Collared wolves are known as “Judas wolves” for betraying the pack’s location.

The downloads give the wolves’ locations for the past 24 hours, though the system isn’t foolproof, said Jay Shepherd, a state wildlife conflict specialist. Dense stands of trees can block signals, and the timing of satellite orbits affects data collection.

Last winter, the state captured and collared three wolves in the Smackout pack. One of the collars has a radio-based signal that can be detected when the wolf is nearby. The other two wolves received GPS collars. One of the collars has stopped working. The remaining GPS collar is on a young male that doesn’t always stay with the pack.

Ranchers must sign an agreement to access the satellite downloads. “They understand it is sensitive data that’s not to be shared,” said Stephanie Simek, the state’s wildlife conflict section manager.

GPS tracking adds a high-tech element to modern range riding, but much of it is still grunt work. The Smackout pack’s territory covers about 400 square miles. John and Jeff Dawson’s cattle graze 10 to 15 percent of the pack’s territory, but their range encompasses the heart of it.

Leisa Hill’s work starts in early June, when the cows and calves are turned loose on Forest Service allotments and private pastures. The range riding continues through 100-degree August days and wraps up in early November after the first snowfall.

She travels nearly 1,000 miles each month by horse and ATV through thick timber to reach scattered grazing areas. She watches for bunched or nervous cows, as well as sick or injured animals that wolves might consider easy prey.

She’s also alert to patterns in the wolves’ movements. Regular visits to a particular site probably indicate the presence of a carcass.

Hill has fired noise-makers to scare off adult wolves that were in the same pasture as cows. Last year, she spotted four wolf pups on the road.

The 46-year-old prefers to stay in the background, declining to be interviewed for this story. However, “the success of this range rider program is because of Leisa,” her father said. “She knows the range and she understands cow psychology.”

Skinny calves mean a financial loss

On a recent fall morning, John Dawson drove a pickup over Forest Service roads past small clusters of Black Angus, Herefords and cream-colored Charolais cows with their calves.

The cows were just how he likes to see them: relaxed, spread out and eating. Calves should be putting on 2 to 3 pounds a day.

“When they’re not laying around, resting and eating, they’re not gaining,” he said.

Dawson heard his first wolf howl in 2011, the year before the range rider pilot started. He and his son lost seven calves that summer, though they couldn’t find the carcasses to determine cause of death.

The remaining calves were skinnier than usual. They probably spent the summer on the run from wolves, or tightly bunched together and not making good use of the forage, Dawson said. For ranchers, skinny calves can be a bigger financial blow than losing animals.

Say a rancher has 500 calves and they each come in 40 pounds lighter than normal. At a market price of $1.50 per pound, “that’s a bigger loss ($30,000) than losing seven calves, which is about a $5,000 loss,” he said.

Over the past two years, the Dawsons have seen robust weight gain in their calves. They credit the range rider program.

Earlier this year, Jeff Dawson and Shepherd, the state wildlife conflict specialist, talked with Klickitat County cattle ranchers. Wolves have been spotted in south-central Washington, and some of those ranchers are starting to experiment with range riders.

“The success the Dawsons have had has gone a long way to helping promote nonlethal means and proactive measures to reduce conflict,” said Jack Field, the Washington Cattlemen’s Association’s executive vice president.

If ranchers take extra steps to protect their animals, the public is more likely to accept the occasional need to kill wolves that repeatedly attack livestock, said Conservation Northwest’s Kehne.

John Dawson and his wife, Melva, spent decades building their ranch, working other jobs while they grew the herd. To preserve that legacy, the family was willing to try new ways of doing business, he said.

“I think (range riding) would work for a good share of other ranchers,” he said. But “they have to be open-minded enough to want it to work.”

Ranchers Insistence On Cheap Grazing Keeps Wolf Population In The Crosshairs

             

One of the six Canadian timber wolves (Canis l...  credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

If the October headlines were any indication, the quickest way for a wolf to make the news is to get shot. The Jackson Hole News and Guide reported the story of a Wyoming hunter who bagged a wolf, strapped him atop his SUV, and paraded his trophy through Town Square. A Montana landowner shot what he thought was a wolf (it turned out to be a dog hybrid) amid concerns that the beast was harassing house cats. The Ecologist speculated that hunters were chasing wolves from Oregon, where hunting them is illegal, into Idaho, where it’s not, before delivering fatal doses of “lead poisoning.”

Predictably, these cases raise the hackles of animal right advocates and conservationists alike. Both groups typically view hunting wolves as a fundamental threat to a wolf population that, after a history of near extermination, is struggling to survive reintegration into the Northern Rockies. According to Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, “Hunting is now taking a significant toll on wolf populations.”

More:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmcwilliams/2013/11/05/ranchers-insistence-on-cheap-grazing-keeps-wolf-population-in-the-crosshairs/

Early snow–Not Wolves–kills thousands of cattle in S.D.

This sad story backs up what I wrote about the cruel treatment of cows in my recent post, Animal Industry = Animal Abuse.

It also highlights just one of the many ways that ranchers lose livestock which make the occasional wolf depredation pale in comparison. Because they can’t go out and trap or shoot a snowstorm, they shrug it off and accept their losses in stride. But if a wolf wanders through, it’s panic time. Scapegoating and killing a few wolves and coyotes must make them feel better about their powerlessness to stop a snowstorm.

Also, how many times do the deniers have to hear the word “record-breaking” before they take climate change seriously…

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2021983379_apusautumnstormsouthdakota.html

A record-breaking storm that dumped 4 feet of snow in parts of western South Dakota left ranchers dealing with heavy losses, in some cases perhaps up to half their herds, as they assess how many of their cattle died during the unseasonably early blizzard.

By CHET BROKAW Associated Press

Frozen cattle on Monday line Highway 34 east of Sturgis, S.D.

Enlarge this photoKRISTINA BARKER / AP

Frozen cattle on Monday line Highway 34 east of Sturgis, S.D.

PIERRE, S.D. —

A record-breaking storm that dumped 4 feet of snow in parts of western South Dakota left ranchers dealing with heavy losses, in some cases perhaps up to half their herds, as they assess how many of their cattle died during the unseasonably early blizzard.

Meanwhile, utility companies were working to restore power to tens of thousands of people still without electricity Monday after the weekend storm that was part of a powerful weather system that also buried parts of Wyoming and Colorado with snow and produced destructive tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa. At least four deaths were attributed to the weather, including a South Dakota man who collapsed while cleaning snow off his roof.

Gary Cammack, who ranches on the prairie near Union Center about 40 miles northeast of the Black Hills, said he lost about 70 cows and some calves, about 15 percent of his herd. A calf would normally sell for $1,000, while a mature cow would bring $1,500 or more, he said.

“It’s bad. It’s really bad. I’m the eternal optimist and this is really bad,” Cammack said. “The livestock loss is just catastrophic. … It’s pretty unbelievable.”

Cammack said cattle were soaked by 12 hours of rain early in the storm, so many were unable to survive an additional 48 hours of snow and winds up to 60 mph.

“It’s the worst early season snowstorm I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Cammack, 60.

Early estimates suggest western South Dakota lost at least 5 percent of its cattle, said Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. Some individual ranchers reported losses of 20 percent to 50 percent of their livestock, Christen said. The storm killed calves that were due to be sold soon as well as cows that would produce next year’s calves in an area where livestock production is a big part of the economy, she said.

“This is, from an economic standpoint, something we’re going to feel for a couple of years,” Christen said.

Some ranchers still aren’t sure how many animals they lost, because they haven’t been able to track down all of their cattle. Snowdrifts covered fences, allowing cattle to leave their pastures and drift for miles.

“Some cattle might be flat buried in a snow bank someplace,” said Shane Kolb of Meadow, who lost only one cow.

State officials are tallying livestock losses, but the extent won’t be known for several days until ranchers locate their cattle, Jamie Crew of the state Agriculture Department said.

Ranchers and officials said the losses were aggravated by the fact that a government disaster program to help ranchers recover from livestock losses has expired. Ranchers won’t be able to get federal help until Congress passes a new farm bill, said Perry Plumart, a spokesman for Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

Meanwhile, more than 22,000 homes and businesses in western South Dakota remained without power Monday afternoon, according to utility companies. National Guard troops were helping utility crews pull equipment through the heavy, wet snow to install new electricity poles.

At least 1,600 poles were toppled in the northwest part of the state alone, and workers expect to find more, Grand River Electric Coop spokeswoman Tally Seim said.

“We’ve got guys flying over our territory, counting as they go. We’re finding more as we are able to access the roads. The roads have been pretty blocked on these rural country roads,” Seim said.

“One of our biggest challenges is getting access to areas that are still snowed in,” added Vance Crocker, vice president of operations for Black Hills Power, whose crews were being hampered by rugged terrain in the Black Hills region.

In Rapid City, where a record-breaking 23 inches of snow fell, travel was slowly getting back to normal.

The city’s airport and all major roadways in the region had reopened by Monday. The city’s streets also were being cleared, but residents were being asked to stay home so crews could clear downed power lines and tree branches, and snow from roadsides. Schools and many public offices were closed.

“It’s a pretty day outside. There’s a lot of debris, but we’re working to clear that debris,” said Calen Maningas, a Rapid City firefighter working in the Pennington County Emergency Operations Center.

Cleanup also continued after nine tornadoes hit northeast Nebraska and northwest Iowa on Friday, injuring at least 15 people and destroying several homes and businesses. Authorities also are blaming the weather for a car accident that killed three people along a slick, snow-covered road in Nebraska.

In South Dakota, the 19 inches of snow that fell in Rapid City on Friday broke the city’s 94-year-old one-day snowfall record for October by about 9 inches, according to the National Weather Service. The city also set a record for snowfall in October, with a total of 23.1 inches during the storm. The previous record was 15.1 inches in October 1919.

Relative Radicalism

All things are relative, and that includes radicalism. Do I go too far, or not far enough? That depends on who you ask. Ask a hunter, and I’m an extremist “anti”; in the eyes of the everyday meat-eater, I’m a vegan food Nazi.

But to an actual radical—one of the die-hard few who won’t be happy until every cage is empty, every cattle ranch is bankrupt, every mink is freed and every fur farm burned to the ground—well, I’m probably considered too fuckin’ nice. It’s not that I don’t want to see every hog farm abandoned, every layingcage_1 hen liberated, every trap melted back into pot metal, every trophy hunter prosecuted and every meat-eater veganized.

I guess I just don’t have that much faith in humanity.

I can’t get past the feeling that the only way all this human evil’s gonna end is when the species goes completely under, due to, say, a pandemic, major drought, storms or food shortage—the kind of things we’re likely to see as the climate keeps changing for the worse.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to do everything humanly possible (within reason) to stop the coming global train wreck, but meanwhile, I’m going to continue to secretly hope Mother Nature will hurry up and get her shit together to make right her biggest mistake. She’s been an overly permissive parent to the spoiled species Homo sapiens thus far, letting them get away with uncontrolled, selfish misbehavior.

It’s about time for her to rein in the over-intelligent, under-compassionate, over teched, under-ethical killer ape, even if she has to throw out the baby with the bath water.