Livestock industry has no use for wildlife, period

Earlier, I posted this as a comment, but I think the issue is important enough this it be a post.

– – – – –

I don’t think people realize that the western livestock industry and many outfitters have a mindset that does not value wildlife at all. All animals, including wildlife, are valued only as a commodity. And one of the best ways to maximize the private profitability of these animals is to own them and feed them.

From this viewpoint, wildlife is just plain inefficient. Put them in an enclosure and maximize their size. End of discussion.

Have people noticed that many former woolgrowers are getting into the elk farming/elk shooting business because it is more profitable than raising sheep?

Stan Boyd, who seems to have tremendous influence over the governor of Idaho and the state legislature works for both the Idaho Elk Breeders Association and the Idaho Woolgrowers.

Many outfitters are also ranchers, and so their view of wildlife is the view of the livestock they raise. Elk are just livestock they don’t have complete control over.

Now that they seem to have won on the wolf issue (wolves having no value as livestock), they are ready to start removing bighorn sheep from the public lands because their grip on bighorn is slipping.

As Robert Hoskins has repeatedly written, the Wyoming legislature is moving more and more to restrict Wyoming Game and Fish Department, prevent them from even holding public land grazing permits (where elk could graze in the winter), and to further promote the feedlot practice of elk management.

For those who didn’t follow these issues before the wolves were reintroduced, the Western Livestock Industry had no use for any carnivore, or any animal that is inherently non-game (like bluebirds, or desert tortoise).

They tolerate elk, deer, moose, pronghorn as long as these animals don’t interfere with their livestock operations and they receive “depredation” payments from the Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife (or whatever the state calls it), if these generally useless animals get into their haystacks or fields.


  1. malencid Avatar

    An important post, exactly correct, too bad it can’t be “fleshed out” as an op ed piece in one of the nation’s larger newspapers. I guess people do read them, although sometimes I am not sure.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Students of policy call this is a “narrative.” That is what I want it to be, or at least grow into. I mean it explains many seemingly unconnected events . . . puts them into an easy to understand framework, and justifies a direction of action.

    My stab at a narrative here needs to be fleshed out and propagated by many people to be effective. An op-ed could be a beginning.

    Conservationists have a lot of narratives about wildlife, but they don’t have a good one; I mean they don’t have one that convinces people about what is wrong with the livestock model and culture associated with it which are so harmful to wildlife.

  3. JB Avatar


    One way to flesh this out is to expound on the values subject. Tara Teel and Mike Manfredo at Colorado State have an ongoing project looking specifically at Wildlife Values in the Western U.S. I can’t find the actual report, but here is a summary of the work:

    One interesting finding is that the purely “utilitarian” view is declining, which could explain why groups like this–who are essentially advocating for non-utilitarian uses of wildlife–are on the rise.

  4. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    A new narrative is a hard one; Aldo Leopold noted in the 1930s that conservation was not happening in agriculture because conservation was incompatible with agricultural values. He came up with the Land Ethic precisely to address the problem of values.

    Agricultural values have been in the making for millennia; they are the very basis of civilization. I have long argued that the alternative narrative must not only produce a new vision of the relationship of humans, wildlife, and land, but also break down the old civilized values that have caused so much damage.

    We have to go beyond civilization.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Yes, we have a narrative, but we don’t have a unified one about what is wrong with them.

  6. TPageCO Avatar

    A very interesting guy to read on the subject of wildlife values/philosophy is Paul Shepard. His later work such as “The Others – How Animals Made us Human”, “Encounters with Nature” and “Traces of an Omnivore” is easier to digest than some of the earlier material. I particularly recommend the last essay in Traces – ‘Wilderness is Where My Genome Lives’. One of the things I find most compelling about his work is that he takes a very long view of things, similar to the best of Loren Eiseley or John McPhee’s geology writings. Thoughtful writers who spend lots of time in the woods (Doug Peacock, David Petersen) have good things to say about Shepard too. As we look for a “new narrative”, there’s good stuff to be found here.

  7. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    A unified narrative is one of the things I’m working on.

    Paul Shepard is one of those whose thinking is absolutely vital to understanding what a new narrative entails.

    But surely, linking that narrative to old concerns about human freedom and liberty will be important. Part of that is understanding that the fundamental characteristic of civilization is slavery.

  8. Heather Avatar

    I have no use for the livestock industry myself, being a vegetarian…

  9. JB Avatar


    Presumably establishing a “unified” narrative involves reaching some sort of consensus–at least among those individuals who you are recruiting to support the sort of land ethic that Leopold described? Or do you plan unification through brow-beating?

  10. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Tell us, Wormtail, what you’d sell the Shire for.

  11. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t think my point has been understood, I mean a narrative about the livestock industry, not a narrative about conservationists.

  12. JB Avatar

    So does that make you Frodo, Gandalf, or Aragorn? That’s a rather self-aggrandizing analogy don’t you think?

    Simplifying the issue issue through the use polarizing rhetoric that portrays your “opponent” as quite literally evil is a bit over the top, Robert. Still, I suppose you’ve answered my question, brow-beating it is. Good luck with your unification!

  13. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    It was clear to me, but I saw the need to go further. There is a larger narrative into which a new narrative about the livestock industry must be placed. After all, the livestock industry narrative is part of the narrative of progress wrought by civilization, which wouldn’t exist without agriculture. That’s why I argue that any new narratives, and their metanarrative, must take the form of “beyond civilization,” which, regarding farming and ranching, means going way beyond the belief in Jefferson’s yeoman farmer.

    Having grown up 3 hours southwest of Mr. Jefferson’s university, in a real and intact 19th century-style rural society, one that most readers of this blog cannot envision, one that included Jim Crow and de facto slavery, I can say that there were damn few Jeffersonian yeoman farmers about; my father was one. Most of them however belonged to the KKK.

    Paul Shepard argues that we never left the Pleistocene biologically or even psychologically, but ecologically and socially we have; human beings and the world are worse for it. That is the theme of Nature and Madness.

    I think we find ourselves in the same position philosophically and ethically in which the early Christians found themselves in the 1st century AD–where do we go from here? How do we change our lives to conform to our deepest intuitions?

    In short, the question is, is the good life what progress tells us it us, or something different, something rooted perhaps in our biological evolution, not in a culture of progress that denies and suppresses our biology?

  14. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Good to see you’ve admitted to being Wormtail.

  15. Monty Avatar

    JB, I read the article about Utilitarian vs Mutualist & what I “take” from it is: “urban verses rural live styles” & the states with the highest human population growth will become mutualists & rural areas with lower poulation growth will remain utilitarian. But this is a “double edge sword” for wildlife in that as the urban populations increase they will displace wildlife with urban sprawl & trophy homes. So in the end, it makes no difference if one is a mutualist or a utilitarian, wildlife will still lose. Much of the western landscapes will increaslying become fragmented & so called “wilderness areas” will become nothing more than “atolls of zoological gardens” surrounded by human development.

  16. JB Avatar

    RH says, “Good to see you’ve admitted to being Wormtail.”

    Actually, I didn’t admit to it. I rejected your analogy straight away. Putting aside, for the moment, your insinuation that I am somehow evil for supporting collaboration, I was making the point that your rhetoric is far from unifying. Seriously Robert, how many converts do you think you’ll win by calling people names?

  17. JB Avatar


    It’s a bit more complicated. Their ideas are actually based on Inglehart’s (a political scientist) theories about modernization and cultural change. The theory goes that increases in psychological security and well-being (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) leads to a shift in how people value the environment/wildlife (when you’re focused on where your next meal is coming from, you don’t worry too much about endangered species). Increases in “mutualist” values are a function of increasing eduction levels, increasing physical and economic security, and increases in urbanization (actually, I can’t remember if this last factor is a cause or just a side effect of this process).

    At any rate, I agree that increases in economic wealth and urbanization can be a double-edged sword, but it doesn’t have to be. People living in urban areas take up much less space (smaller homes, lots) which is good for wildlife because highly impacted areas are condensed. Of course, food has to be trucked in from afar, requiring a great consumption of fuel, but this could be mitigated in the future as renewable energy sources come online.

  18. Brian Ertz Avatar

    it takes courage to fight

  19. JB Avatar

    Does it also take “courage” to vilify people with which you disagree?

    I get the feeling we’ve been here before.

  20. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Remember, Wormtail, it was you who threw out the first offensive remark. Why don’t you just leave?

  21. JB Avatar


    Perhaps you should re-read the posts. I simply pointed out the incongruity of your remarks about unification with your prior remarks about consensus and collaborative approaches.

    I believe you were the one who labeled me a “brown conservationist,” “Wormtail,” and insinuated that I was evil. BTW, I have never held the “brown conservationist” remark against you, but as you seem hell bent on bashing collaboration at every chance, I thought I would point out the hypocritical remark. I don’t think I deserve to be insulted and vilified for challenging you to defend your argument. Frankly I’ve come to expect more from you than that.

    You ask, “Why don’t you just leave?” Robert, we probably agree on 95% of the conservation issues that come up here. I disagree with you on one basic point–I don’t think collaboration is the root of all evil. For that you ask me to leave? Shame on you.

  22. SAP Avatar

    Best I can tell, there’s some kind of Tolkien-based name-calling going on here, but I’m way out of my depth, so I can’t play along.

    I will pick up on a couple of themes:

    First, JB, we HAVE been here before. Not just on this blog but throughout history (and into Tolkien’s fiction, evidently) as we strive to right wrongs and work toward some future vision where things are better. Do we get up in the bad guys’ grills (ok, now I’m using hip-hop talk) with everything we’ve got, or do we work as conciliatory reformers? I’ll spare everyone my half-baked recollections of various instantiations of this dialectic (eg. King vs Malcom X). Suffice it to say that there are examples of both working, both failing miserably, and both working synergistically to achieve change.

    I don’t want to get into labeling the two sides because it’s hard to find non-pejorative labels, especially for the collaborationist approach. Just that term itself calls to mind “quislings” and those who helped out the Nazis in occupied France. I suppose we could call the hard-line idealists . . . oh, how about Bolsheviks or Jacobins or Khmer Rouge? Or the Rocky Mountain Taliban?

    But are those the correct metaphors for the situation we’re in in the Rocky Mountain West? Metaphors can get in the way of making sense of what we really want and what context we’re operating in.

    I will concede right now that Wyoming — especially outside Teton County, which might as well secede and take its riches with it — is a whole different ballgame than Montana. And I don’t know jack about Idaho, but it seems a little different, too.

    So maybe some of you have been hardened and radicalized by decades of nastiness. Context matters. Wyoming is a strange place, and the power of the stockgrowers there may not be that far removed from what is depicted in the movie Tom Horn.

    Collaboration is unlikely to produce mutually agreeable results if one interest already monopolizes power — heck, they have zero incentive to collaborate at all, unless it’s a just for show to make it look like they care about others (I’ll let Robert fill in the examples of sham collaboration here, but the debacle with the early iterations of the state grizzly plan tell me everything I need to know). And those with power never relinquish it voluntarily.

    On the other hand, I always keep in mind this passage from noted scholar Harold Lasswell:

    “The ineluctable outcome of these all-pervasive interdependences is that the degree to which any particular individual . . . can achieve his demanded values is a function of the degree to which other individuals . . . can secure and maintain a corresponding enjoyment of their demanded values.”

    Of course, Lasswell is not prescribing that we sit down and start bargaining from an inherently weak position, and he’s not saying that people should be bribed into conducting themselves decently. But he is pointing out that there will be some give and take.

    Now, on this topic of narrative: Ralph, have you read “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn? Excellent account (told by a gorilla!) of the narrative or myth we live by. Good stuff.

    There are two things we can do with narratives or myths: First, we can just try to make sense of them and describe them. That helps make the world less confusing and unpredictable, so it’s worthwhile.

    Second, because narratives/myths are ambiguous, emotive, and subject to reinterpretation, we can seek ways to actively alter narratives in a way that people can move from a past that no longer works into a future that does.

    The “adaptive narrative” (somebody HELP ME with the terminology) could help maintain their sense of identity and continuity with tradition, while helping to modify or end behaviors that are destructive.

    Am I on crack? Maybe, but I’ve been following the Irish “Troubles” for 30-odd years, and I think people there have morphed their narrative into something new. Are there still Nationalists in Northern Ireland who want to be part of the Republic of Ireland? Certainly, and they haven’t stopped thinking of themselves as Irish. But they have changed the way they view the world such that they’re not blowing people up anymore. Could we evolve similarly here with respect to ranching and carnivores? I don’t know. I hope we can do it without armed struggle ;).

    Finally, my favorite quote on identity, narrative, and myth (from Margaret Wheatley):

    “Every change is fostered by a change in self-perception. We will change our self if we believe that the change will preserve our self. We are unable to change if we cannot find ourselves in a new version of the world.”

  23. JB Avatar

    SAP: Well said. Your quote reminds me of something my undergraduate advisor once told me: “The day you stop learning you might as well be dead.” Not as eloquent as your version, but conveys a similar message. 🙂

  24. d.Bailey Hill Avatar
    d.Bailey Hill

    SAP, is paradigm the term you are looking for?

  25. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I’ve been through all that Lasswell stuff with Tim and Susan. Where has it worked? Not here.

    I stand on what I’ve said about collaboration. What passes in academia does not pass in the trenches.


  26. Heather Avatar

    The ‘trenches’.. I agree. Reading these blogs, I start to wonder what does this have to do with wolves?? Dont take me for naive… just think back to simple stuff. But nice philosophy and I am very impressed.

  27. Heather Avatar

    And the naivete that some of you may perceive by my comments is really my desire to get down to business. I dont have a ranch or a farm, but I would love to end my life that way. However, being the person I am now, I would never see a predator as an outlaw. I would see them as a part of the circle like me, trying to survive. I would as well, be in awe of such a predator that supposedly stands lower to me on the food chaing, because I could have a gun or M44 to kill it. but equal or even above me in intellect and intelligence, not human intelligence but of its own. Utmost I respect that different intelligence. So I see the need to kill the predator for some as a primitive way to solve his/her own anguish of being human…while I revel in the beauty…

  28. SAP Avatar

    Robert – your response gives me some good food for thought, and I thank you for that. I am certain that I will not change your thinking on any of this; I’m also certain that you don’t need my blessing to keep doing what you do. But keep doing it all the same! I admire your convictions and passion.

    Please note this paragraph from my above post:

    “Collaboration is unlikely to produce mutually agreeable results if one interest already monopolizes power — heck, they have zero incentive to collaborate at all, unless it’s a just for show to make it look like they care about others.”

    I am not some starry-eyed booster of collaboration as the answer to all that ails us.

    Nor was Harold Lasswell, and I’m sorry you came away with that impression of the “Lasswell stuff.” It’s not like he was L. Ron Hubbard or something — he had a great deal of insight into the way society runs. I think a lot of scholars — I think you’re a student of Hannah Arendt if memory serves — who came of age during the horrors of the World Wars and totalitarianism have a lot to teach us.

    Lasswell’s focus on contextualism, human values, and problem orientation were all extremely valuable contributions. More serious students could point to even more pioneering contributions, but those are the ones that help me make sense of things. His article on the problem of how we use all of our phenomenal substantive knowledge, “From Fragmentation to Configuration,” is highly accessible and I re-read it quite regularly.

    Going through his works, you won’t find that he has any “default” solution like “sit down and collaborate.” There are some real light-weights out there who do seem to think that way, but Lasswell was not one of them.

    So, I can’t answer your (probably rhetorical) question, “where has the ‘Lasswell stuff’ worked,” because it’s not like a procedures manual for collaboration.

    Nor can I point to any one thing called “collaboration” and judge its track record.

    For the sake of discussion, though, let’s ask where give-and-take has worked? Well, it got wolves back on the ground here, clearly, although many would argue that it would have been better for wolves’ sake to wait however many years it took to secure a recovery program that was far more accommodating of wolves.

    Give-and-take has led to a state grizzly management plan for southwest Montana that does NOT draw lines on maps where bears can and can’t go. And flowing from that plan, we have cooperative (and effective) efforts to prevent bear-human conflicts in developed and backcountry areas west of the GYE recovery zone. That doesn’t mean there’s consensus about bears moving back in here, and the Forest Service wisely made it mandatory to store food properly, but it was a cooperative, give-and-take approach that has gotten us this far.

    Back in the mid-90s, when all this current “collaboration” mania was first taking shape, a good friend of mine confessed he was having trouble making sense of it all. “I just can’t see how it’s really any different from old-fashioned coalition building,” he said.

    In reality, it’s not. It’s a way of getting what you want. If you can get what you want some other way, fine. If you’re going to engage in it, don’t give away all your principles for the sake of the process. And don’t lie or spin the science to disguise the trade-offs.

    I suspect it’s the violation of these conditions — along with the collaboration pixie dust that people sprinkle all over it, making it seem like it will magically transcend reality — that turns some people against this tool. Maybe temperament and worldview and experience give them a jaded view of it, too.

    By the way, a couple of book chapters and a handful of articles would hardly seem to qualify me as an academic. I am a committed pragmatist, meaning that in the tradition of John Dewey, I am interested in ideas if they are useful in achieving some goal.

    At the end of the day, though, I’d always rather be out in the woods with a string of mules, building bear poles at camps.

  29. Buffaloed Avatar

    Here’s an example of collaboration that is making wonderful progress:

    GYC supports the hunt and thinks that it is a “conservation tool” when in reality it is just another way to kill all of the bison that leave YNP. Great, they are providing “green cover” to the ranchers who use all of their scare tactics but won’t provide any habitat.

    I’m sorry but GYC is worthless on wildlife issues. What did they do with the $45,000 Wilburforce grant they received in 2006?
    I would argue that $45,000 would go a hell of a lot farther in the hands of BFC than these highly paid collaborators who just roll over to the livestock industry and accomplish nothing.

  30. Buffaloed Avatar

    Here is a list of their “accomplishments”:

    They published a few reports yee haw!

  31. Brian Ertz Avatar

    “Montana’s valuable cattle industry”

  32. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Please forgive me for making a totally off-the-subject comment!

    Thanks, Brian, for using your real name. What about the rest of you? I can understand there are people who work for agencies and who post here, that can’t. But the rest … come on, aren’t we friends having good discussion? Kinda like “Cheers”? This isn’t the Idaho Statesman where the mud slinging and name calling is downright filthy. It’s confusing trying to keep SAP and JB and tPage (?) and all the rest straight. Do you have a last name Layton? Or is Layton your first?

    Ok. I had my say. Now what were we talking about?

  33. JB Avatar


    I apologize for not using my name, but the opinions I express on this list would not sit well with many of the people I work with. Anonymity, at least in these public forums, is a prerequisite, I’m afraid. That said, if any of you wish to contact me, Ralph has my email and my permission to distribute it to any the “regulars”. If it makes you feel any better, my good friends do call me “JB”. 🙂


    I would like to continue the conversation about when collaborative efforts are appropriate, but I think I’ll wait on this discussion until cooler head (mine own included) prevail. Thanks for your analysis–you’re already a step above most of the academics I’ve met. 😉


  34. Brian Ertz Avatar

    there will be anecdotal examples of collaboration being an effective tactic toward specific goals. it is worrisome to consider the long term consequences as the strategy is adopted over time – especially given the environmental (as in organizational environment – not natural environment). Because the nature of conservation often engenders “use” issues – regulation is necessary — something is being done to the natural environment – and that anthropogenic action’s regulation is the subject of actors compliance —

    here, let me just copy and past a description at the organizational level — devoid of conservation, or labor, etc.. — because it’s a description of organizational mechanisms and tendencies given a particular structure or posture of organization – one of the authors, Vaughan, makes an effective argument that the concerns can be applied across particular discipline (labor org. – conservation org. – government – or in one case, an event which spurred the funds necessary to engage in such a question — the Challenger crash) — keep in mind its a rough draft :

    Regulators perceptions of what constitutes compliance and non-compliance are largely dependent of third-party informants and the environmental imposition of privacy restraints afforded regulated parties or simply the demand to expend resources on gathering information. Consequently, informational dependencies develop. Such dependencies contribute to the development of relationships that make regulators, and perhaps it is not unfair to infer third party oversight, prone to engage in cooptation (Selznick 1966) in seeking to settle disputes over policy development, implementation, and even compliance with existing regulation.
    Furthermore, both regulators and regulated organizations posses resources. Regulators are afforded power but are often limited in financial resource to enforce existing regulation. Regulated organizations frequently possess financial resources, political relationships, and privacy-protected information necessary for the proper enforcement of regulation, all of which can obstruct social control (Stone, 1975: 96; Cullen, Maakestad, and Cavender; 1987). Utilization of these resources can be costly and result in contentious conflict. To avoid the cost of this arrangement, collaborative processes have been advocated and institutionalized (Vaughan, 1983: 88-104). These processes engender interdependencies. Parties become financially motivated to settle disputes by keeping opposing interests at the table rather than by expending resources in conflict. The interest to conserve financial resources, to be perceived as moderate, or whatever motive an interest hopes to achieve in engaging in collaboration, makes each dependent on the other’s maintained presence at the table.
    As sympathies develop toward regulated parties resulting from the newly developed interorganizational regulatory relations, or inclusive collaborative bodies, autonomous levers of social control break down. Threat of sanction is an effective regulatory mechanism of promoting compliance (Hawkins, 1983: 68) with regulatory objectives. However, codification of sanction alone is not enough to ensure optimally effective compliance.
    The severity, perception, and actuality of sanction all contribute to its efficacy (Williams and Hawkins, 1986). Institutionalization of negotiation and compromise among parties engaged in interdependent regulatory organizational bodies tend to mitigate severity “and its major impact is on the ability of regulators to threaten or impose meaningful sanctions” (Vaughan 1990). Stinchcombe (1986 – 234) makes this argument based on would-be enforcers hesitation to effect future bargaining potential – to break trust or build resentment which might obstruct cost-saving collaboration in the future or other projects in process. Vaughan (1990) supposes hesitation of collaboratively invested parties to employ harsh financial sanction on the regulated given the regulators’ already disclosed interest in pursuing collaboration as a strategy to keep costs down. In this condition, the threat of a costly fight is perceived as a de facto threat of retributional sanction imposed by the regulated on regulator.
    It is important to make explicit that these failures to develop effective regulatory enforcement mechanisms, i.e. sanction and punitive levers etc., need not be solely attributable to failures of individual participants. The breakdown of the rationalization of regulatory enforcement results as “compromise is an enforcement pattern systematically generated by the structure of interorganizational regulatory relations” ” (Vaughan 1990). It is the process of organizing interests collaboratively itself that becomes a structural constraint to social control and regulatory compliance.

  35. Brian Ertz Avatar

    these things, of course, i think are reasonable to consider before sitting down at the table when one is an advocate

    i can certainly entertain the idea that a collaborative approach might seem like a good idea for someone working within government ‘moderating’ between interests — or for those whose interest is more vested in making people or themselves feel good as opposed to pushing a conservation agenda for those who don’t have a voice of their own … a choice of their own…

  36. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I suggest that people read Ralph’s posting on the plight of sheepherders and then tell me that collaboration is the way to go with the livestock industry.

    When we assess the contextuality of the conservation problem we face, what do we find? Here it is.

    History: the western livestock industry got its start with the slaughter and imprisonment of Native Americans on reservations and the theft of Indian land, a slaughter and imprisonment engineered by the United States government in the name of Manifest Destiny, a theft that continued well into the 20th century with the Dawes Act. It continued with wholesale slaughter of wildlife to free up the range for cattle and sheep, a process that continues today with bison, elk, deer, and pronghorn antelope through depredation hunts, elk feedgrounds, and the slaughter of winter-range-seeking bison, not to mention the slaughter of prairie dogs and coyotes.

    It further continued in the famous Western range wars of the 19th century (Lincoln County War, Johnson County War, etc.) with the murder and harassment of “sod busters,” cowboys who wanted to ranch on their own, and small town businessmen who got in ranchers’ way. The murders Tom Horn committed were just a small part of the larger war on civil society that ranchers pursued–and won.

    Law: Ralph’s posting on sheepherders reflects how laws have been written to accommodate the economic needs of sheep ranchers, leading, among other things, to the virtual enslavement of sheepherders. But the perusal of any of the laws, whether federal or state, that deal with ranching are rife with tax breaks, subsidies, and exemptions from requirements that the rest of us must obey. Game laws, such as those in Wyoming, are full of subsidies–elk feedgrounds, damage compensation payments for big game, trophy game, even game bird “damage,” free technical advice, late season depredation hunts, licensing exemptions for outfitting on private lands, beaver trapping exemptions, state-funded predator control, etc. I once added up just what subsidies to ranchers alone cost Wyoming’s hunters and anglers, and it comes out to 5-10%, sometimes more, of the yearly G&F budget. Feedgrounds alone cost Wyoming’s hunters and anglers nearly $2 million a year, and ranchers pay not a dime for them. Ranchers get the grass, and the rest of us get a disease hazard.

    Politics. What is worse is the political control ranchers wield over wildlife management and wildlife management agencies,not to mention the political process itself. Demands for fewer wildlife on the range to protect forage for cows and sheep have led to disasterous policies, such as the elk feedgrounds, the Yellowstone bison mess, restrictions of grizzly bear and wolf expansion, and from time to time, wildlife crashes, such as happened in southwest Wyoming in the early 90s when, upon the demand of ranchers, G&F handed out way too many deer doe-fawn licenses and then the winter was one out of hell and killed off much of the rest of the area’s deer.

    Not a legislative session in Wyoming goes by witout the cowboys putting in for another subsidy. In the last budget session, cowboys voted themselves a $6 million subsidy for additional predator control. This session, there’s a bill to prohibit G&F from holding federal grazing leases as big game winter range because some ranchers, members of the Stockgrowers, want those permits for themselves.

    Goddamn thieves.

    Far more elk are falling in late season depredation hunts than to wolves, but our friends the ranchers and their allies in the outfitting industry and the Wyoming G&F Department won’t tell you that–it’s all the fault of wolves. So we need to slaughter wolves.

    Lying is a fundamental social characteristic of ranchers.

    And of course, there is the political behavior of ranchers. Threats and intimidation of wildlife biologists and conservationists. Death threats. Threatening phone calls at 3 am. Ganging up at public meetings on people smaller and weaker than they. We all know, or should know, of the G&F personnel who get sacked because they’ve crossed ranchers. Hell, Todd Wilkinson wrote a book about political harassment of biologists, Science Under Siege. We all know these things still happen. Or do some of you deny it?

    How about conservationists who get fired from their jobs with brown conservation groups because they’ve offended ranchers. Listening, Greater Yellowstone Coalition? How about you, Wyoming Outdoor Council? Shall I name some more groups and perhaps by name some executive directors or program managers who’ve knifed colleagues and employees in the back because it’s politically incorrect to criticize the cowboys?

    Steve, that’s the context of the situation as Lasswell teaches us how to establish it. I could of course go on to a larger, longer assessment of the values at play, but I don’t have time.

    But the basic values at play with the livestock industry are those of brutality, ugliness, and destruction of all who get in ranchers’ way.

    The values of the livestock industry are the values of oligarchy and barbarity. Democracy has no place in oligarchy. Neither does human dignity. I seem to remember that Lasswell framed human dignity as one of the fundamental goals of human society. I agree.

    But the livestock industry doesn’t agree. That is, their dominant value is that of power and oppression of all that do not possess power. None of the other values Lasswell discusses in his thousand page tome matter, (except wealth, but even that is subordinate to power) and certainly, the values of those of us who work to protect land and wildlife NEVER come into play. We are completely disenfranchised in every possible way, except sometimes for the courts of law and the courts of public opinion.

    In short, collaboration with these people does in fact mean nothing more than what it meant in France after May, 1940, when the Nazis invaded and collaborators mushroomed.

    However, the situation we face in the West more accurately is analogous to the situation faced by the civil rights movement in the South. I grew up in the South, the rural South, with the KKK all around, and I know what it looks like. What I’m seeing here in the West looks exactly like what things looked like in the South.

    Intimidation, threats, brutality. That’s agriculture, especially pastoralism. That’s the nature of cattle herding culture.

    Ever hear of the Bushmen of southern Africa? They found themselves in a fatal bind as the cattle herding Bantus moved south and the cattle herding Dutch moved north, and both cattle cultures, the black Bantu and the White Dutch, made sure to slaughter or enslave the wild Bushmen before slaughtering each other for control of the veldt.

    Stories have come down of Bushmen throwing themselves off cliffs to avoid capture and slaughter or enslavement.

    There is no life without freedom.

    That’s the way of cattle cultures. If it’s wild and free, kill it or enslave (domesticate) it. No one can deny this. It’s historical fact. It’s what is happening to the buffalo.

    You mentioned Hannah Arendt. Yes, I am a student of her work. One of her books is entitled Eichmann in Jerusalem; it was her account of the trial of Adolph Eichmann in the 1960s in Israel after Israeli agents kidnapped him out of Argentina and brought him to justice in Israel for his crimes in running the final solution for the Nazis.

    Eichmann was the Nazi bureaucrat in charge of administering the concentration camps and the huge logistical machine of the final solution.

    Arendt, who was Jewish and managed to escape from Nazi Germany before Hitler took power, came up with an interesting term to describe the unimpressive little bureaucrat Eichmann and people like him: the “banality of evil.” She was one of the first to ask, how could such a nonentity, such a perfect little balding and banal bureaucrat like Adolph Eichmann have overseen the slaughter of millions of Jews and other undesirables without giving it a moment’s thought?

    The answer was simple; by turning the process into one of organization and logistics no different than making the trains run on time.

    Indeed, Eichmann did make the trains run on time. The trains carrying Jews and other undesirables to the death camps in Nazi occupied Europe.

    Eichmann was just a quiet little banal bureaucrat with no imagination, no evil appearance, no real vices. He was just doing the job he was given, and he compartmentalized out of existence the fact that he was doing it to human beings. He just had to get the paperwork right.

    Evil. It can just as easily appear in the guy next door as it can in the true monster. And in Nazi Germany, it did, many times over.

    It sure did in the South where I grew up. I am a witness to it.

    Evil, when the circumstances are right, appears in those who have no principles, no moral character, no courage. It appears in those who’s life task is to go along to get along, regardless of whom one is getting along with. It appears in those who check out where the wind blows from, and then go with it.

    It appears in those who are just following orders.

    Comfort is their primary value.

    When we talk of collaboration and consensus, it’s clear that one can achieve consensus only with those with whom one shares fundamental values.

    When I look at entities like the livestock industry, or any of the industries that take such pleasure in political self-aggrandizement (power) and self-enrichment (wealth), with the result that land and wildlife are destroyed, polluted, and diminished, and my values swept aside like last year’s leaves, I can tell you and everyone else here that I share no values with those people. There is no possible consensus between me and them.

    Collaborating with these people is no different than collaborating with the Nazis or the KKK.

    People say Nazism can’t happen here. Hey folks, look alive. What else was Jim ‘Crow but the working out of the police state? What else is Homeland Security but the working out of the police state? What else is bison management in Montana but the working out of the police state?

    What is the essential difference among any of the three?

    I’ve said my piece. I have no more to say.


  37. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    This piece was written on April 29, 2002 and was published in a newspaper or two around Wyoming.

    Note that Elk for Tomorrow merged with Sportsmen For (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife of Wyoming.

    The New Face of Hatred

    “Prejudices are what fools use for reason.”
    — Voltaire

    Hate, defined as an “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury” continues to be a thorn in the side of 21st century man.

    As a society, we are haunted by images of burning crosses, concentration camps, murder based on race, religion, or sexual preference, and the tragedy of September 11th. Hate is organized into a variety of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, religious fanatics, militias, and even anti-wolf groups.

    Wolf-haters are afraid the wolf will kill all the elk, moose, and deer in the world. Their irrational thinking culminates into a paranoid mythology where the wolf becomes a monster bent on killing and whose taste for blood will eventually lead to the death of children.

    Elk For Tomorrow, a Wyoming group, has organized its prejudices of wolves into a hate group.

    Elk For Tomorrow, self-proclaimed “friends” of elk, claims killing wolves is the ultimate solution towards preserving a future for elk. They falsely portray all wolves as predators that regularly kill elk for “sport.” “Sport” hunters, ironically, kill tens of thousands of elk annually.

    Hitler murdered Jews in order to preserve a future for his “master race.” Imagine the Nazi Party renamed “Jews for Tomorrow.”

    What is the difference between Elk for Tomorrow, which hates wolves, and groups like the Ku Klux Klan, which hates other races? There is no difference. Both use propaganda to sell their message of hate and call for desperate measures to defend their “cause.”

    Elk for Tomorrow stated in a recent ad: “Without drastic wolf control methods, by 2010 all elk, moose, deer, sheep, and goats will be gone, smaller animals such as ground-nesting birds, rabbits, gophers and anything else edible will be wiped out.”

    Elk for Tomorrow should present evidence to the public where wolves have hunted any animal to extinction. If this were possible, early American settlers would have found a continent void of all the wolfs prey. Man, the deadliest predator on earth, is the only animal that is capable of hunting its prey to extinction.

    Is it possible Elk for Tomorrow has the ear of the Fremont County commissioners? The commissioners voted to outlaw grizzly bears and wolves from inside their county lines. They said they would take “any and all actions necessary to protect its citizens” from wolves, grizzlies, and other “unacceptable species.”

    As long as hatred of predators factors into political decision-making, western states will continue to prove their ineptitude in ever providing unbiased predator management.

    Biological diversity should be embraced, not outlawed.

    “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented (Elie Wiesel).”

    Those of us who appreciate wild places with a full compliment of wildlife cannot remain silent. Those of us who despise hate and cherish all life must speak up and let our elected officials know hate has no place in determining the future of the wolf.

    May the hateful voice of Elk for Tomorrow be overwhelmed by the howl of the wolf.

    Mack P. Bray and Tom Mazzarisi

    Mack P. Bray is a resident of Jackson, and defends public lands and wildlife.

    Tom Mazzarisi is a resident of Jackson and has a passion for wild predators.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  38. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Hmmm… I think comparing anti-wolfers with the Nazis or KKK is going overboard.
    Are they misguided, misinformed, spreading misinformation? Sure, I think so.
    But to compare that with such dark chapters in human histroy as lynchings, cross-burnings, bombings of black church congregations or innocents being gassed and their corpses crammed into ovens is a bit absurd, methinks.
    Wolves — though they be magnificent animals for sure, are still only animals nonetheless — and can’t be directly compared to the human victims of those atrocities.

  39. Brian Ertz Avatar

    i think that extending a level of compassion toward wildlife which bares with it an admirable level of humility recognizing that just because a sentient being can be dominated, tortured, and killed does not make it right to do so …

    the characterization is apt. to me, its critique is more of the parallel psychology/pathology of the people inflicting ‘control’ than those poor sentient-beings receiving it.. that must be less relevant if we are to truly understand. in this light, with this focus being the practitioner(s) of ‘control’, i am forced to confront the question of whether the mentality is altogether so different when the deviant barbecues a barbie-doll or lays waste an entire landscape.

    does it help to understand the nature of the problem endorsing the idea that the doll is of less value in our minds?

  40. Fox Avatar

    Sure, wolves can be compared to the human victims of the Nazi – what could possibly be the difference? In both cases, it is, like Mack and Tom said, the emotion of fear and anger that drives hate. In both cases, it is human white (mostly) men who are the speciecists and here it doesn’t matter if the victims end up being non-human animals or some of the human animals. Whether they are wolf haters, women haters, black haters or Jewish haters, the common denominator among these groups is that they feel that they are “above” others and that somehow their own existence is more important than the existence of others. Shame on them!

  41. JB Avatar


    I do not have time to address all of your comments–many of which I agree with, I few of which a vehemently disagree with. Since values are a pet topic of mine, I’ll focus my comments there.

    RH says: “The values of the livestock industry are the values of oligarchy and barbarity…[and]…When we talk of collaboration and consensus, it’s clear that one can achieve consensus only with those with whom one shares fundamental values…[and]…I can tell you and everyone else here that I share no values with those people. There is no possible consensus between me and them.”

    Industries do not have values; they are fundamentally amoral. Don’t get me wrong, they certainly take actions that are immoral but a non-human entity can’t “hold” values. Individuals have values, which are expressions of our desired end states–our priorities for how the world should be. You are confusing industries with individuals.

    ALL of us (with a few notable exceptions, e.g. Ghandi) prioritize our own physical and economic security before all other things. The fact that we even pay attention to issues that do not directly impact us is a function of our physical and economic well-being–you don’t worry about old-growth trees when you can’t find food or you don’t have a roof over your head. Thus, all people, to some extent, share a common set of values (see Milton Rokeach’s work). Moreover, the closer we live together, the more similar our cultures, and the more we interact, the more likely we our to share the same values.

    Ranchers, like all people, put their security first, and their actions reflect this priority. Their very livelihood and those of their children depends upon the only occupation many have ever known (I’m speaking of family-owned and operated ranches, not foreign run operations). To stereotype ranchers as uniformally bad–to compare them to Nazis and the KKK WHO MURDERED PEOPLE OUT OF HATRED, is false, it is hateful, it is irresponsible, and it is wrong. But you go well beyond that. You argue that collaborating with ranchers is the same as collaborating with the Nazis or the KKK. Tell me, will the ranchers come and murder your children in the night if I collaborate with them? With they load the non-ranchers on trains and gas them? Your analogies are so far out of bounds, they are so removed from reality, that I can only conclude that you are out of your mind. Moreover, having relatives that survived the death camps, I DEEPLY RESENT these comparisons.

    I will say no more on the topic.

  42. SAP Avatar

    Robert – thanks for your thorough-going and insightful analysis. I will take it as tacit agreement that the “Lasswell stuff” is useful. I imagine you have seen his work on the “Garrison State,” too . . . that immediately came to mind in your discussion of the “working out of the police state.”


    “”The Garrison State was a 1941 article in the American Journal of Sociology by political scientist and sociologist Harold Lasswell. It was a “developmental construct” that outlined the possibility of a political-military elite comprised of “specialists in violence” in a modern state.

    Lasswell was particularly influenced by the development of aerial warfare, especially as employed during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which he believed would lead to a “socialization of danger” throughout society.””

    Scary stuff, in light of the last seven years. Doesn’t “specialists in violence” sound suspiciously like Blackwater? Doesn’t “socialization of danger” hit close to home with the incessant, Orwellian announcements about “threat level” in any major airport?

    HAL9000 – while I disagree with Robert that there is NO difference between collaborating with Nazis and collaborating with ranchers, it’s worth going back and reflecting on his points about the “banality of evil.” Seemingly normal, good people can and have perpetrated some horrific atrocities. And I’m sure you’d agree that it is possible to do evil things to animals, even if you don’t accord them the same status and rights as humans.

    When we began discussing collaboration, I was not aware that we were debating the merits of collaborating specifically with ranchers; some of the examples I have cited are certainly from other realms and with other cultural/interest groups. And as I said before, if ranchers and the livestock industry monopolize power and influence, there is no reason for them to collaborate except perhaps as a “fig leaf” of respectability, or a token display of commitment to democracy, freedom and human dignity.

    That said, I have found here in Montana ranchers that I cannot accuse of evil, ranchers who are good people, ranchers who I have personally seen REFUSE to do the bullying and ganging up thing at public meetings; I have even seen them use their influence to stop such behavior.

    I have seen other people here engage in those sorts of tactics . . . some were ranchers, some were elected officials, some were loggers, miners, and ORV enthusiasts. It was ugly and sometimes scary. I have had people libel me, threaten me, spread rumors about me . . . but never has a rancher done that. I have seen some behave dishonorably and dishonestly, and one always has to keep one’s eyes open for that sort of thing.

    Back on the subject of the livestock industry’s “narrative,” I think we ought to take a look at the continental or global context of ranching. That is, to look at the larger system of food production and delivery that western ranching is part of.

    The western states produce way more beef than their residents could consume, as a rule, but it’s an export commodity that meets up with another over-abundant commodity, grain, in the Great Plains and Midwestern feedlots.

    I can’t point to any good health, environmental, or biodiversity outcomes (except maybe low risk of starvation?) from this system designed to provide cheap, abundant food to American consumers. We eat too much meat, the grainfed stuff is unhealthy, and the way we produce it is destructive.

    Yet ranchers — and let’s focus on the small, marginal family ranchers who take what price they’re given for the calves they sell to this system, not the Simplotts — tend to stand in solidarity with this larger industry, even if it’s not really to their benefit. Those that have tried to take control of their own destiny find the major lobbies, the big packing plants, the USDA, and other ranchers deployed against them, determined to keep things the way they are. So they end up defending the whole set-up.

    Tom McGuane put it most succinctly in his 2002 novel, The Cadence of Grass:

    “He had come to believe that the cattle of America were like a big shareholders’ company, and that he had a little share and was part of it.”

    I think that sums up a lot of ranchers’ view of the industry they’re part of. I think it also explains why (at least in the US, not standing in solidarity with their Canadian colleagues) they’ll all denounce mad cow fears, why Montana ranchers wouldn’t accept the “split state” proposal to treat herds near YNP separately from the rest of the state, why ranchers with virtually no risk of wolf losses will foam at the mouth over wolves.

  43. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    “Specism” isn’t even a real word. It’s a concept dreamed up by PETA and other extemists groups to justify their worldview? (Hey, don’t agree that a wolf pup has just as much value as a human baby.. GASP.. you’re a “specieist”.. and no different than a racist, woman-hater or any other bigot!”) Sorry, you can’t compare hatred/fear of an animal to bigotry against other human beings. Yes, SOME people who dislike animals also dislike “different” people. But then again, SOME people who claim to love animals seem to hate human beings, period. Ever heard/read an animal rights activist wax lovingly about the near or total demise of humanity.. and how great that would be? (Yay, bring on the bird flu!!!!)
    Choose your sterotype, eh?

    Okay, my refusal to buy into any of that and feel guilty just for being a white male aside…I see a lot of dislike here toward ranchers/ranching.

    Okay, fine. The cattle industry and its ham-fisted politics annoy me sometimes too.

    Simple question: When we succeed in wresting all that ill-earned power away from those wicked ranchers.. and driving them off the land with our righteous fury…what DO you suppose is going to happen?

    One word, folks: SUBDIVISIONS.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ll take cowboy politics over the developer’s bulldozer any day of the week. And, I suspect, so would most wildlife.

  44. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    The Lasswell “stuff” is not so different from the strategic- operational-intelligence analysis I learned and practiced during my years as an Army officer. In particular, the kinds of analysis that go into special operations and psywar are especially relevant to the Lasswellian approach. It was nothing new to me when I was exposed to it at NRCC. How it is structured is somewhat different, to be sure.

    You seem to be coalescing around an understanding that while the livestock industry is reprehensible or at least problematic, as are its values–and yes, an industry does have values, because it is made up of people with those values, such as power and wealth–we shouldn’t hold the little guys and the progressives responsible for what the elites, politicians, and bureaucrats of the industry do.

    Fair enough. But what are we to do with this understanding?

    One can ask, what has “collaborating” with the little guys, the progressive ranchers, working up various pilot projects such as yours, done to influence the wildlife and land use policies pursued by the industry, whether Stockgrowers, Woolgrowers, Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Association, R-CALF, etc., and implemented by agencies such as APHIS, Montana’s Department of Livestock, and the various land and wildlife management agencies?

    The answer is, of course, nothing. Whether it’s wolves, grizzlies, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, cougars, prairie dogs, coyotes, etc., we see the policies implemented for these species (and we aren’t even discussing land use policies that encourage and sustain severe overgrazing on various grazing allotments throughout the West, such as the Green Mountain Common Allotment here in Wyoming west of Riverton), becoming ever more intolerant of conservation and fascistic toward conservationists. Ralph has posted all too many stories over the years that demonstrate just how intolerant the livestock industry is, the latest being the efforts against bighorn sheep in Idaho. The same thing is happening here in Wyoming with bighorns.

    What is collaborating with “progressive” ranchers doing to prevent all this?


    You say you’ve never been threatened by a rancher. I have been so, several times, until finally several years ago had to slam one against the wall in a G&F bathroom when the SOB got in my face and I’d had it with such bullshit. That’s what bullies understand–physical correction. It hasn’t stopped the threats, but people don’t get in my face any more.

    I’ve addressed the livestock industry’s narrative. It is the cattle culture narrative, one that is found worldwide wherever the cattle culture exists. It is one in which anything wild and free is a threat, and must be destroyed or enslaved. Whether human or animal, whether Kung! Bushman or bison, whether Shoshone Sheepeater or bighorn sheep, it must be killed or tamed.

    Such a narrative entails individual and social psychopathology. Does it not?

    Or, to put it another way, where in the world where the cattle culture exists, is it not psycholopathological, particularly with regard to wildness and things not under cattle culture control? I’ve traveled all over the world and I haven’t encountered a single cattle culture that isn’t rooted in brutality and violence.

    Is this psychopathology–the hatred of anything wild and free–not also the fundamental characteristic of the garrison state wherever it appears in the history of civilization?

    Does not bison management in Montana exemplify the workings of the garrison state? How about Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds? How about wolf control? Are not all these management “regimes” due to the demands of the livestock industry?

    Tell me, what are “progressive” ranchers doing to prevent these policies?

    In short, I think there is something profoundly disturbing about the nature and workings of livestock industry that you are not fully accounting for when assessing the context of conservation in the West.

    It appears my heresy is that I do account for it. Well, so be it.


  45. Brian Ertz Avatar

    look Robert, I apologize for stepping on this discussion, but will do so anyway because to see how folk are sidestepping what i consider to be the relevant tenets of this narrative by attacking the straw-man on the wrong end of your analogy is frustrating to me…

    JB says:

    To stereotype ranchers as uniformally bad–to compare them to Nazis and the KKK WHO MURDERED PEOPLE OUT OF HATRED, is false, it is hateful, it is irresponsible, and it is wrong.

    Livestock mentality murders wolves, wildlife, and ecosystems OUT OF HATRED not out of necessity – though both the mentalities claim(ed) to be doing so out of rational self interest – a rational self-interest that is HATEFUL toward the subject subject it seeks to dominate. I’ve said it before, you are looking at the wrong side of the analogy. you win the argument that wildlife is not people — good for you i might add, but such focus is dismissive of the point entirely… you do not even address the point of the analogy which compellingly suggests that the visceral volition which inflicts the domination is borne of similar HATEFUL ways of looking at the world as “other” – as bad, as threatening, etc … regardless of the particular subjects who incur infliction.

    But you go well beyond that. You argue that collaborating with ranchers is the same as collaborating with the Nazis or the KKK. Tell me, will the ranchers come and murder your children in the night if I collaborate with them?

    again, wrong side of the analogy — they will not murder your children — they will kill and dominate wildlife and wild places, often that had nothing to do with what this pathology claims to be the source of its ailment. and the collaboration in this regard is no different than before in that the subjects at stake (wildlife or human) were/are regarded with lesser moral agency.

    With they load the non-ranchers on trains and gas them?

    tell me JB — what does an M-44 do to an animal ? how about the aerial gunships they use to mow down animals ? or the stock that blows out the sources of life’s diversity ?

    Moreover, having relatives that survived the death camps, I DEEPLY RESENT these comparisons.

    i think it is apparent that this resentment is where your conflict with the narrative originates – and perhaps why you remain silent about the substance of the argument – instead, clinging to an argument that you definitively win (i.e. wildlife are not human beings). you have been succesful in demonstrating that wildlife are not human beings, but for it to be substantive with regard to robert’s narrative you must demonstrate that it is ok/moral for wildlife to be subject to the mentality of domination – and ok for collaboration to continue to subject wildlife to it. you have yet to address the fulcrum of the narrative. moreover, having roots in the particular conflict myself, i would like to express my admiration of the idea that the same compassion which extended to liberate people, might be recognized, and ought be pursued, in the efforts of wildlife advocates toward recognizes the unjust oligarchy fed by a hateful mentality upon wildlife and wild places. i further admire the condemnation of such a mentality of death whether it be toward human beings – or other sentient beings (wildlife) as immoral. this compassion for wildlife, and the narrative used to describe wildlife’s adversary, is an apt demonstration of humility – humility – the very antidote to the anthropocentric mentality of entitled domination described — the same humility and compassion was used to reject the morality of the ethnocentric domination of people.

    as to the “progressive” ranchers i would make this suggestion – not only are these ranchers doing nothing to dissuade the political influence of those in control of the political institutions that codify the psychopathological narrative robert describes – they are being used to sideline efforts at conservation. “progressive” ranching may be admirable – and i have no foul words for those individuals involved. but these efforts are inevitably used and broadcast into generality – greenwash – and i would hope that this would inspire progressives to clearly disassociate – but it hasn’t.

  46. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    It really doesn’t matter, because to speak the narrative is to confess to being mentally imbalanced.

    I’ve always wondered what my problem is; now I know it’s that I’m out of my mind.

    Of course, mental imbalance was one of the excuses of the Inquisition to burn heretics who thought the freedom of God’s blessing was the bane of social and political control.

    It was too.

    Thanks anyway.


  47. SAP Avatar

    Robert & Brian – very good points. I don’t have any good answers; if I dig into the social psychology literature I could come up with a bunch of $3 phrases to describe the phenomena.

    Short answer, though, is that progressives and troglodytes and fatcats are all part of the same “tribe,” and rejection/exclusion HURTS. Check out Naomi Eisenberger’s MRI work at UCLA’s Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. To stand out from the crowd, to criticize the neighbors, puts one at risk.

    THe risk may just be psychological pain, but the interdepence we see in the practice of “neighboring” — helping each other with seasonal chores like branding, or helping out during emergencies like fires and blizzards — has very practical consequences.

    Not a justification, just an explanation.

    Will the progressives some day be empowered, more emboldened? I don’t know, but I’ll keep working with them and trying to improve things on those particular places where they operate. I have not been at it long enough to say it’s hopeless. Perhaps a steady accumulation of hopeful stories — and I will resist having them used as greenwash for the whole beef industry — will be an important element of reform. I sure don’t have all the answers, maybe not even a thimble-full.

  48. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I understand that. I deal with it all the time in the conservation community. For my refusal to be a good “neighbor” to some conservationists, I get labled crazy, mentally imbalanced, heretical, or meglomaniacal, or all four. It’s goes with the territory.

    You’ll take the actions you think are right. I’ll do the same. It is likely that neither one of us will succeed. What we’re dealing with is too entrenched.


  49. Brian Ertz Avatar

    robert –

    if i wasn’t out of my mind i wouldn’t care – and perhaps the same for the other way around. but from what i can gather, these are the movers — the ones that don’t get too comfortable…

  50. JB Avatar

    Brian says: “…you are looking at the wrong side of the analogy. you win the argument that wildlife is not people…but such focus is dismissive of the point entirely… you do not even address the point of the analogy which compellingly suggests that the visceral volition which inflicts the domination is borne of similar HATEFUL ways of looking at the world as “other” – as bad, as threatening, etc …”

    I must address this, so I guess you’ve made a liar out of me. I suppose Robert can add that to the long list of names he likes to call me.

    First, you are correct. That’s right, I agree that there are parts of Roberts analogy that ring true. But that is not the point. The analogy compares ranchers and those who would collaborate with them to the Nazis and the KKK. The implication: if you are willing to collaborate with a rancher then you are similar to people who committed horrible atrocities and genocide. This is the “side” of the analogy to which I object. Many of us know and like ranchers, some of whom we are more than willing to collaborate with. For that, we’ve all just been compared with murderers. What kind of effect do you think this type of rhetoric has on most people? How many potential recruits to your cause have you just alienated? Making this kind of comment in a public forum is irresponsible–at THE VERY LEAST.

    Moreover, lets not take this out of context. These comments were made shortly after Robert noted that he was working on a “unifying narrative.” With comments like this, the only group you will unify are those who oppose wolves.

    But lets take the “point” of the analogy head on, as you suggest. You condemn the “hateful” way in which you believe ranchers look at the world. I submit that comparing ranchers/collaborators to Nazis is an act that invites the very kind of hate you claim to deplore. By comparing ranchers with Nazis you invite people who recognize and fear the evil of the Nazis to feel the same way about ranchers. If this is not hate speech, its damn near close.

    On a personal level, for being a proponent of collaboration, I have now been called a “brown conservationist” and “wormtail,” compared with members of the Nazi party and the KKK, and it has been insinuated that I am a coward. Is that not hateful?

    Post script:

    Brian says: “humility – the very antidote to the anthropocentric mentality of entitled domination described”

    If humility is the antidote to human domination of wildlife, I think it will be found by some other; it is in short supply around here.

  51. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    JB, I don’t want to offend you, but I do detect a considerable degree of naivety in you when it comes to understanding some of the types of livestock producers we’re up against.

    Who remembers scumbag cattleman/white supremacist/anti-Semitic Rudy Stanko?

    I was interested in his anti-grizzly and anti-wolf actions on the Bridger-Teton and in ’04 met with BT officials and they verbally gave me what info they could but said I would have to submit a FOIA to get their file on him. So I did. The BT District Ranger wrote me and told me what I needed would be found in Ogden. I send him a certified letter telling him that what I wanted was in Jackson and if he did not immediately release it, I would sue him. I received an overnight letter authorizing Jackson to immediately give me full access to the file. Before I accepted it, I had Kniffy Hamilton’s rep (she was out of town) sign an affidavit stating that nothing was withheld from me. So I had BT’s entire file on Stanko.

    In 1984, Stanko was convicted in Denver of selling tainted meat from his packing plants, including Cattle King in Denver, to a school lunch program. He supplied about a fourth of the ground beef for the nation’s school lunches. While in prison, he wrote “The Score”, a book about how a “Zionist conspiracy” destroyed his $20 million meatpacking company. Stanko’s thesis in the book is that the beef industry is controlled by Jews.

    Stanko considered himself to be the “Pontifus Maximus” of the World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist, anti-Semitic organization. I’ll not call it a church. From a Billings Gazette article, found here:

    “Founded in 1973, the World Church of the Creator received national attention in 1999 when former member Benjamin Smith went on a shooting rampage against minorities in Illinois and Indiana, killing two people and wounding several others before killing himself. The East Peoria, Ill., group, whose membership numbers could reach into the thousands, has also been linked to a plot to blow up black and Jewish landmarks in Boston and Washington this year.”

    More at Montana Human Rights Network:

    In 2004, Clark Allen, Teton County Prosecutor and a member of Sportsmen for (some) Fish and (some) Wildlife, charged Stanko with diverting livestock from a veterinary clinic in Glenrock and sending them to Jackson instead. I filed a motion with Judge Day to video the trial. My motion was denied. Stanko said the court did not have jurisdiction to try the charges. He also said he was thrown in jail and fined unfairly for allegedly diverting 76 heifers, some of which allegedly were found in Jackson on June 7, 2003, at the Roger Seherr–Thoss Property on South Park Loop Road. According to a report from Kim Clark, an investigator with the Wyoming Livestock Board, Stanko contacted the board on May 22, 2003, about importing 93 heifers and 12 steers into Wyoming and having a veterinarian at the Glenrock Livestock Auction in Glenrock certify spay conditions. Stanko was issued a permit with the stipulation that the cattle would reach the auction by May 29, 2003, the report said. Animal Health Specialist Douglas Leinart contacted the auction on June 2, 2003, and was informed that Stanko’s cattle never arrived. Clark interviewed a truck driver who said Stanko hired him to transport 76 heifers to Jackson, not Glenrock. Clark also interviewed Stanko’s feedlot manager in Nebraska, Terry Kaplan, who allegedly told Clark that Stanko had him place counterfeit tags, certifying that the cattle had been spayed, on the ears of the heifers. Kaplan said Stanko was involved in “questionable practices” and that he told Stanko he was “sick of it,” the report said. Stanko allegedly told Kaplan to “shut up.”

    It is my understanding that at one point, Teton County Sheriff Dept. had a warrent for Stanko’s arrest; this was from Nebraska; a charge of cruelty to animals. I have no other details.

    Stanko’s cattle have been found in Yellowstone National Park.

    From an AP article: “Stanko originally filed a claim for $180,800 in damages, saying grizzlies killed 198 of his cattle grazing in the Gros Ventre mountains in western Wyoming. He discovered the missing animals in December.

    Game and Fish biologists, however, could only confirm that three cattle had been killed by grizzlies and recommended the $3,741 in damages.”

    Tell me, JB, Is this the type of livestock producer you would want to collaborate and compromise with?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  52. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Correction: Clark Allen is an assistant or deputy prosecutor; Steve Weichman is the Teton County prosecutor.

  53. JB Avatar

    Mack: To answer your question, no.

    Then again, I don’t think you’re suggesting that all ranchers are like this guy? Some are deplorable, some are not; but you could say the same thing about people across every profession. Unfortunately, the ranching industry does not have a monopoly on scum (if it did, they would be much easier to find/avoid/lock up).

    Mack, let me back up and summarize the fundamentals of the argument, as it has stretched out over several posts.

    1. I have suggested that I don’t think collaboration would work in the current climate in Idaho and Wyoming (regarding the wolf issue).
    2. I have admitted that collaborative processes are not a panacea for solving conflict. A side note–I think “conflict resolution” is a misnomer. In most cases, the best you can hope for is the management of conflict.
    3. However, I have been involved in efforts that actually work. Therefore, I’ve said that its not appropriate to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Essentially, I’ve argued that collaboration can benefit all parties under the right conditions (which are not currently present in Idaho and Wyoming).

    For my troubles, I’ve been called names and compared with Nazi sympathizers (see my last post). Personally, I don’t see this as a good persuasive tactic, but to each his own.

    Best of all, for not going along with the evolving consensus against consensus, I was asked to leave. Ahhh the irony.


  54. SAP Avatar

    This has been a good thread, and I appreciate the stimulating discussion.

    Robert & Brian, you’re NOT crazy, as I’m sure you know. Our “culture” has gone mad, and you make look anomalous in contrast, but not crazy.

    I think we are plodding toward the enslavement depicted in the “Matrix” films. Freedom and the wild are compromised at every turn.

    I think one of the most radical ways in which science, industry, and government are enslaving us is through control of our food choices. The consequence of that domination go way beyond our health, happiness, and sense of place — industrial ag is devastating the environment and biodiversity, too.

    Recall the various spates of farmer suicides over the past few decades in the Midwest — what made Jefferson’s freeholders hang themselves in the barn? While there were many factors, loss of freedom, beauty, and connection had to have something to do with it.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the country is too fat, indebted, and besotted with plasma-screen images to give a rip. Who’s crazy? If you knew better, why would you freely choose that “life?” Why would you settle for that?

    I see some of that same radical resistance in some small ranchers and cowboys. Broadly competent people who are in some respects very un-materialistic (yes, I know there is a huge stripe of utilitarian-domination view toward animals and nature running through there), and who esteem each other on merit & skill rather than on material wealth.

    There are some bad things about that culture, no doubt. We could say the same thing about many if not all cultures the world over — sexism in Tibetan Buddhism, violence in Gaelic cultures, racisim and genocide in Teutonic peoples. I revere Sitting Bull, but the Hunkpapa were not exactly good neighbors to their fellow nations, were they? [Then again, combat and conquest of territory had a highly ritualistic tone amongst the Plains tribes, it seems . . . genocide was Euro-Americans’ big innovation]

    I cannot debase or denounce the ranching culture in its entirety, especially when it contains exemplars of a radically different approach to living.

    Bash my head in for naivete and sentimentality if you like, but we need some “shamans” like that, lest we come to believe we’ve always lived in our automobiles and had better relationships with Regis Philbin than with most of blood relatives.

    JB – thanks for excellent posts, especially regarding human values. I need to dig into Rokeach’s work someday soon.

    Mack, respectfully, Stanko would be relevant here only if someone had claimed that ALL ranchers were good, honest people that we should all get to know. Under that condition, it would have been worthwhile to point out a striking counter-example.

    I can find you a busload of really execrable “conservationists” or enviros or whatever you want to call them. Cads, liars, philanderers, bad parents, abusive bosses, people who might be war criminals in a different setting.

    And the very worst — the careerists, whose main skill is currying favor with wealthy donors, and whose central passion is climbing the ladder to comfort. I would hate for anyone to think these people were representative of me, you, or anyone else here who seems to have this conservation stuff in their DNA.

  55. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    I think we can all agree that wildlife has no value in the livestock industry. However, presenting the ideology behind such behavior is the unifying factor despite outcomes that are not as atrocious as the slaughter/extermination of the jewish people. I will use the following passage by Rebecca Solnit in a piece she wrote titled “Our Storied Future: Never underestimate the power of an idea”.
    The passage is the following-
    “An equally disabling distinction, handed down from Plato is the one between representation and reality. This exiling of representaions to the realm of the irrelevant, the inactive, the opposite of acts and actualities, trivializes the power of words and ideas. Campaigns of destruction always begin with language and symbols—even calling a forest a natural resource makes it easier to see it as board feet. People die of ideas all the time. The representaion of people as loathsome or invasive, for example, is often the first step toward brutalizing or exterminating them. The anthropologist Hugh Raffles points out that the nazis made constant analogies between jews and insects and then made metaphors real by using the insecticide Zyklon B to murder some of us in the gas chambers. Ideas matter. This is what Patrick Reinsborough, founderof the San Francisco-based Smart Meme, calls “the battle of the story.” There are battles in the streets and there are battles over which metaphors and images will be used to tell those stories and, ultimately, which version of history will shape the memories and imaginations that guide and limit the future. To write, to make art and film, to work as a journalistor an educator can be a radical act, one that blurs the lines between action and contemplation by employing ideas as tools to make the world as well as understand it.”
    Here is one more qoute by Rebecca Solnit; “Apolitical art and artless politics are the fruit of a divide-and-conquer strategy that weakens both; art and polotics ignite each other and need each other. The idea that political art must degenerate into propaganda or unsubtle screed is also misguided.” This quote printed in bold type is what first drew my attention to this article, because in the past i had difficulty understanding why some artists choose to make political art, and why that is viewed as so important. But after reading her essay i was finally able to weave the two together. I did not realize the depth and meaning in joining the two. Solnit presented the information in a way that with how my brain works, was able to finally comprehend.
    Creativity and imagination do not always result in something beautiful and not neccessarily on paper or canvas, but in our minds.

  56. SAP Avatar

    dBH – excellent information!

    All: if you want to see what’s wrong with the way our country produces meat, be sure to check out the new expose on Westland Beef, major supplier to the federal school lunch program. Schools all over the nation are now prohibited from using their beef. I hope they go out of business.

    The HSUS undercover videos are heartbreaking and infuriating and sickening. If you’re going to eat meat, kill it yourself out in the hills, or buy it from someone local.

    The cows in this situation are mostly used-up dairy cows, a major source of burgers. But still . . . it seems like a “teachable moment” to get consumers thinking about where their food comes from.

    And, to link it back to this thread, how/why do the good progressive ranchers tolerate being tied to this system? I don’t know.

    YouTube is still a relatively young phenomenon, but it’s so powerful to see these images instead of just being told about bad things at the big packing plants. Maybe, just maybe, things can start to improve . . .


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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