Livestock industry looks for more money for wildlife killing agency

Livestock’s war on wildlife is heating up. One day after the final wolf delisting rule (2/21/08) the Capital Press, Ag’s favorite rag, published that

Producers push for more livestock protection [wildlife killing] funds (2/22/08 – Subscriber Only) :

The article reports that cattle and sheep industry people are asking the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural development and Related Agencies to increase appropriations for “livestock protection” (which means killing wildlife that these producers don’t like) by Wildlife Services.

Wildlife Services (WS) is the militant wing of the Department of Agriculture, and has done one thing well – it kills pubic wildlife for private livestock interests. In 2006 WS spent over $108 million federal dollars killing over 180 animals per hour. Ralph has recently shown us Wildlife Services doing their work by air and over at Sinapu’s blog they’ve described how WS covers the ground.It seems to me like less, not more money for the unpopular killing of America’s wildlife using chemical agents that’d make Saddam Hussein cringe would be a good start for a Congress looking to exercise real fiscal responsibility, moral authority, and prudently focused domestic security.







  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I would say Wildlife Services is more like the SS (Schutzstaffel) of the livestock industry. A noble goal is to get rid of it altogether.

  2. Jon Way Avatar

    Since the US is cutting all domestic spending with our trillion dollar war in Iraq I am sure they will double Wildlife Service’s killing budget, since it would be consistent with this administration doing everything as backwards as possible. What idiots. They are stuck in the 1950s way of thought.

  3. Catbestland Avatar

    This is par for the cours in the “Bush administration’s war on Science.”

  4. Barb Avatar

    Wouldn’t ranchers leaving livestock in open, unsecured areas be considered ‘BAITING’ wildlife???

    I am completely serious!

    Recall the story of the man in Boulder who left his dog out and a mountain lion attacked it? FWS or another agency was considering pressing charges for “baiting” wild animals.

    Why can a private homeowner ‘bait’ an animal by tying up his dog outside but livestock owners aren’t held responsible?

  5. Barb Avatar

    Ken Salazar is pro livestock industry.

    Wayne Allard, even though he’s a vet by trade, always voted against animal protection bills. He’s about to retire.

    Does Colorado have ANY legislators who look upon predatory animals in a favorable light?

  6. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    I think Barb’s got a good point about livestock producers “baiting” predators by grazing their personal property, livestock, on AMERICA’S public lands where predators live.

    Which is more important: livestock producer’s *privilege (not a right, but a privilege)* to graze their private property on AMERICA’S public lands or the rights of citizens to enjoy all wildlife, including predators, on their public land?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  7. Concerned Avatar

    The problem you will run into with the “Baiting issue” is in several states, if an animals is classified a predator, then it is not illegal to bait them, even on public lands…so that could be a bit of a sticky wicket in trying to get the practice stopped, and no, I am not condoning, just bringing up a reality of current predator laws, especially in the west.

  8. Barb Avatar

    Concerned, appreciate your response.

    I’m not sure that’s true. It’s illegal to “bait” mountain lions in Colorado.

    Maybe we could apply for hunting permits to hunt the non-native species that are grazing on our public lands (cattle, etc)? They shouldn’t be there.

  9. Cindy Avatar

    Okay, they aren’t happy with the fact they are going to be able to kill wolves that may be attacking their livestock, but they want more money to boot? Isn’t that getting your cake and eating it too? Since delisting has occurred I, for one, think the WS and DOW should start cutting back on the payments being made. (I’m sure I’m going to get some bad feedback for that statement).

    Here is a little tidbit of information I found while doing some research. Out of approximately 64,600 livestock that died in the area in 2006 only 2,500 (or less slightly less than 4%) of those were from predator killings. This includes not just wolves, but also other predators such as coyotes and mountain lions. That leaves 96% that die from natural causes, poisoning, theft, etc.

  10. Cindy Avatar

    Oops…typo error. That should say slightly less than 4%.

  11. Concerned Avatar

    Mountain lions are not classified as a predator, they are a game animal, as they are here in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, that is why they have a hunting season and it is illegal to bait them, Now if we look at the current wolf plan in Wyoming it will not be illegal to bait them in most of the state, it just comes down to how a particular animal is classified by the state game agency.

  12. Barb Avatar


    Predators should never be classified as “game animals.” It should be illegal to ever hunt them in my opinion. No one eats wolf or bear meat.

  13. dbaileyhill Avatar

    This is absolutely sickening.
    Filthy, arrogant, *&%$@#+”s!!!!

  14. Barb Avatar

    If more people were aware of the filthy secrets of the livestock industry, I think many would boycott beef unless it’s “predatory friendly.”

    I’ll bet the cattle industry is ramping up their PR campaigns. I noticed there’s a “beef day” at McDonalds now.

  15. Cindy Avatar

    I know you aren’t the one who decided how to classify each animal, but come on mountain lions are game animals? To me game animals are deer, squirrel, rabbits (anything I would kill to eat). Do you all eat moutain lions out West? Do the mountain lions not “prey” on other animals? If they do then to me that makes them a predatory animal. Heck, I would even classify my cat as a predator because of the way she stalks mice and birds!

  16. Concerned Avatar

    I have eaten bear mean many times, if you prepare it correctly, it is not bad, I know lots of people who eat bear meat, I have also know a few old timers that eat mountain lion…I don’t hunt bear or mountain lions as I don’t hunt anything I don’t eat. But again, I do know quite a few that do eat both species..

    As far as classifications go, all states have their own system for classifying animals, that is one of the problems with Bison in Montana, they are basically a non-classified animal, which is one of the reasons that DOL has control over them like livestock, if they were assigned full game animal status, then they would be controlled by FWP and the constitutional mandate in the state of Montana is that FWP has to maintain viable population number of game animals, they have to manage for population and viability..

  17. JB Avatar

    Given the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and associated problems (e.g. atherosclerosis, fatty-liver disease, etc.), all Americans should boycott beaf–your heart will thank you! 🙂

  18. Concerned Avatar

    The Livestock industry in the US and Canada are one of the most organized legal mafia type groups there has ever been, I am also all for them not being subsidized or being on public lands, I don’t feel they should be able to continue to ply their business on the backs and blood of others as they have for over 150 years now in this country…and the only way that is going to change is legislative action, it is very important to make sure your representatives know exactly how you feel about the livestock industry.

  19. Catbestland Avatar


    Colorado Congressman Mark Udall wrote a forward in the book, “Comeback Wolves” where he speaks favorably about wolves and praises the attempts for reintroduction in the state. It’s a good read. I don’t know if his actions have backed up his words or not.

  20. Concerned Avatar


    In Montana it is against the law to take a game animal and waste it, that includes Mt. Lions as well as bears, and they do check, both species have to be checked by a FWP agent as well as have a tooth taken and a stamp placed on the animal, I can’t say that I know that everybody does it, but in 15 years of running around the woods in Montana, I have never found a dead Lion or Bear that had been left…

  21. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Barb wrote: “If more people were aware of the filthy secrets of the livestock industry, I think many would boycott beef unless it’s “predatory friendly.”

    Barb, I agree. A group of us started organizing a beef boycott but dropped the project in order to organize Wildlife Watchers.

    Apparantly there’s a National “Where’s the Beef?” Day, on Saturday, March 8. It’s a one-day beef boycott. I did a search but can’t find much; perhaps someone else can.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  22. Barb Avatar

    I do have the book, along with other critical reading such as Welfare Ranching, Predatory Bureacracy, A Society of Wolves.

    If wolf advocates could persuade ranchers to raise BISION (a native species) instead of cattle, they at least, can better protect themselves naturally against predators and there wouldn’t be such a perceived “urgency” to shoot to kill.

    It just doesn’t make any sense to run cattle loose all over open lands without some kind of security! I’m not crazy about fences, and totally against barbed wire but using certain animals to keep predators away really does work and is more effective in the long run.

    It seems some livestock owners think they have the right to destroy the American Western wilderness for their own personal gain.

    This outdated thinking has no place in 2008, where a more contemporary way of thinking about co-existing with wildlife is absolutely necessary to preserve and protect our national treasures.

    Our national treasures are a million times more important than anyone’s private cattle business!

    The livestock industry for the most part (there are some good people) ARE like a criminally run Mafia organization, that is for sure.

  23. Concerned Avatar

    I am all for ranchers raising Bison, the meat is far better for you, they are a hardier animal they don’t destroy habitat the way cattle do, and in the long run would be less expensive to raise, but for some reason in the west, this idea has not been wildly accepted as a viable alternative. I do see some progress, there is now a company advertising Bison meat on National TV, so perhaps we will see more and more interest in this alternative.

  24. Barb Avatar

    Whoops, meant to include this link regarding Colorado laws on livestock…..

    “Open Range laws” have been nothing but deadly for our predatory animals (and many other species). They need to be changed!

  25. Catbestland Avatar

    The common thought in all these threads is the destruction of the environment and to our wildlife due directly to the cattle industry. The obvious answer is to, as Mack suggested, BOYCOTT BEEF. Even if you can’t do it completely at first, start cutting back or at least purchase it from sustainable sources. Any decreas in beef consumption will negatively impact the beef industry.

    JB, you are so right. I just read an article that cholesterol may not be as responsible for heart disease as suspected. The real culprit apparently is arterial inflamation caused my homocystines? which are more abundant in beef than any other food. So your heart will indeed thank you if you stop eating beef. So will your pocketbook. So will the planet and its wildlife as it has been shown that one of the best ways to lessen your carbon footprint is to stop eating beef.

  26. dbaileyhill Avatar

    I think it could be considered more western, or preserving the west more if people raised bison instead of beef. Bison do not need to be near water sources, and they are constantly on the move….

  27. Concerned Avatar


    Unfortunately not by those who raise livestock, Bison for the most part, have never been seen as a viable product, of course a lot of this comes from the days, when they were the Native Americans Food source, so getting rid of the Bison, got rid of the Native Americans..The western rancher for the most part don’t care about preserving the west, they care about the exploitation of the resources, as they have for over 150 years…these ideals have been passed down through generations..

  28. kim kaiser Avatar

    just my opinion,, here,, but there is little natiional awareness over all this,, I would be willing to bet that 90 % of the people on this forum who are aware of the situation come from the mt, wy, co, id, area, with a few strays,

    i asked some friends of mine from home last night,,mississippi and louisiana, did they know anything about grazing exploitation on public lands,, bison slaughter, wolf and bear delisting, etc . most of these people are outdoor people, others were just normal everyday Joes,,, and none had heard of such a thing, nor, did they really have much interest in it..not because they dont HAVE an interest, it just seems so foreign and benign to many people who are not here or nearby to see it. So, my thinking on this thing is that until you get a major league national exposure on this thing, (which requires a lot of money) the bolstering of the concensus opinion here gets not much further. We here know whats going,, !! its the others who dont, and if you get national attention of people who can pressure there non state in volved politicos and kick up enough stink about it, all this may go somewhere and in a much quicker fashion…..

    it somewhat reminds me of the civil right stuff years ago. no one really kept up with it,, it was a southern problem, but yet, when a few yankees came down, money and legal pressures from the top (kennedys,,who i despise for different reasons) and large media groups began showing up and showing the activities, it became more than the good ole boys could overcome,,,,

    last summer anderson cooper was in YS for a brief piece on the wolves….it was nice, but it wasnt gonna get anyone on the ball, it wasnt impact, it was just ,,, nice…good to see the wolves back type of thing,

    given that everyone has a video camera almost, i am surprised that there is not any more on the bison slaughter, from the minute they walk out the arches or West to the roundup, to the trailering to the haul to the slaughter house,, in its most visual form…..or actual video or photographs of public lands in the season before the cows are brought in, after they are in and after they are gone, to show the destruction to the land .and with all the internet outlets for movie transmission. just look what the undercover beef video did, people were disgusted, in my case, its not the beef, but the treatment, and i think that is what touched people,

    look what just a few picutres of black folk hanging from a noose that are 50 years old do to the consuming public,, total outrage,,whenever jesse or al need a point, thats what they refer to..

    if there is no way to get some sort of national outrage, it will just be a slow, painful grind. i dont think the national orgainizations want to get into the ugly of the whole thing, they prefer the quieter approach, and work under covers and dont want to step on toes.

    I have never been one to think throwing blood on store windows was appropriate, but visual approachs ie do seem to get peoples attentions when displayed in the proper arenas.

  29. dbaileyhill Avatar

    I have also found that most people are not aware. From what i gather from further questioning, or rather what those folks have conveyed to me is that they assumed the bison were a protected species, mostly because they are associated with Yellowstone and an American symbol. (dept of interior badge). The few that knew of the problem from years ago, assumed that it had been resolved, as is does not make “the news”.

    I have a few ideas, two that i think are kick-a##. Ijust don’t know how to implement them. I lack the funds, but i am good with fund raisers.
    The area i live in; it’s is impossible to raise awareness and support for anything. No joke.

  30. Barb Avatar

    I receive a sense of hypocrisy and irony when I read articles of how livestock owners are “shocked” by predator kills, especially when their livestock is on open lands without any kind of protection!

    Not to be rude, but are they really that dumb or just don’t believe wild animals should be going after the prey they are leaving out so enticingly?

    They really seem to be bothered by the blood and guts.

    What do they think happens to their livestock when it is sent to a slaughterhouse?!

    At least the predator is doing what comes naturally. An animal being forced into a slaughterhouse is not part of any natural process.

    If anyone has ever read “Range Magazine,” you can see how one-sided the thinking is regarding how they see wildlife. It’s great if it doesn’t include predators.

    I think it’s past time for a reality check!

  31. SAP Avatar

    dBailey – I like bison. They’re beautiful, they’re tough, and they taste great (less filling, too!).

    Why doesn’t everybody run bison? Well, several reasons. Most prominently, tradition.

    Second: markets and supply lines for beef are very well established compared to bison, as you see every time you go to the supermarket.

    Third: bison require a little or a lot (depending on who you talk to and the context of your operation) more in the way of handling equipment than do cattle. Big fences, heavy-duty corrals, elaborate handling chutes . . . it’s a lot easier to handle cattle.

    Fourth: a lot of people really LOVE working cattle — the horses, the ropes, the cowdogs . . . it can be a beautiful thing to sit a good horse that is interested in cattle and feel him go to work. I love to watch well-trained dogs work stock (it’s also a good way to better understand wolf predatory behavior, too, since the motor patterns are very similar).

    This fourth reason is a big one. I have worked cattle and I’ve worked bison, and bison are just way different. They’re wild. They will stomp dogs (and coyotes and wolves . . .). While handling them is rewarding in its own way (for one thing, they are almost completely silent during the works, whereas cattle would make you deaf with all their bellowing), you really don’t get to work them with horses and dogs.

    I know that sounds trivial to people, but I’m just trying to explain why everyone hasn’t jumped on the bison bandwagon. For many people, switching to bison would be the same as “quitting ranching,” insofar as “ranching” is a cultural identity or almost an ethnicity to some folks. Not saddling up and taking old Shep out to move pairs? Well, you must not be ranching anymore!

    Yes, it sounds trivial and maybe I’ve caricatured it here, and I would have to think that a guy would still rather work bison than work at Wal-Mart. I know I would!

    Also, a final reason: although they are our native big bovids, bison are still “alternative” livestock. I think under ideal free market conditions, bison would be way more profitable than beeves once consumers realized how much better (taste, health, reduced predator conflicts) bison were all around, and once producers realized that the additional profits and reduced labor (they don’t need help calving, for instance) made them economically viable.

    But we’re not there yet. So, do what you can to encourage people to eat bison (sorry, vegans and veggies — I gots to have my red meat), increase informed demand, and maybe we’ll see more people make the switch.

  32. Barb Avatar

    Good comments. Bison or cattle, either way, ranchers need to start using NON LETHAL ways to control predators.

    We shouldn’t be sacrificing our native and magnificent predators for private business interests either way –.

    Some of the ways our predators are killed are over the top unbelievable. If the entire U.S. was aware of this problem, it would be stopped! I agree that it’s mainly an issue in the West as the East and Midwest and South don’t have the open spaces we still do.

    More PR and education is critical on a national basis to educate the population on preserving predators and their native habitat.

    We must save these incredible habitats for the incredible predatory and other animals that call it home.

    Cattle are not a national treasure — wolves, coyotes, bears, foxes, bison ARE!

  33. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Folks, don’t forget we have a *huge* success story in Bob Jackson’s Tall Grass Bison Ranch in Promise City, Iowa.

    Bob Jackson is an ex-Thorofare ranger of Yellowstone – kicked butts of many poachers – and was in Bozeman this past weekend, delivering bison meat. He doesn’t have a web site. If you want his email/phone/mailing address, email me and I’ll ship it to you. Bob’s an expert on the family structure of bison herds. He’s described what happens in herds in Yellowstone when they’re big enough to spin off a group – something like (I’m not quoting): The younger bison, ready to start a new group, will begin to separate from the rest of the herd. The cows with calves with remain with their calves with the main herd while the grandmothers of the younger group will go to visit, spending time with them, as if to say, good luck and be careful…

    I was just talking to a woman who’s forming Bison Vision – she has 3K acres in eastern Montana and is going to take 30 of Bob’s bison to begin her herd. She intends to use the place as a educational tool and eventually offer bison for consumption.

    Inroads, eh…

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  34. Catbestland Avatar


    Interesting post. In your opinion, do you not think that when bison are raised in similar circumstance as cattle that they develop some of the same problems as domestic cattle? I have herd that while they never become tame they will loose much of what makes them wild, their, toughness, their flight instincts and can even develop problems in calving. I have heard this is also true of captive elk. Maybe it is because man selects which ones will breed instead of Nature. If bison are confined in the same manner as cattle, do they not in essence become like cattle and have the same impact environmentally as domestic cattle? I am just curious.

  35. SAP Avatar

    Cat – I think that range management issues are the same for cattle and bison, with maybe some minor differences. Bison seem to stick closer together and stay on the move more than cattle, but they can still hammer a place.

    Calving problems — well, calving problems develop over generations of selecting for something that runs contrary to easy calving. Such as big calves, big heads, breeding little cows to big bulls, &c.

    I don’t think it results from captivity per se, but from artificial selection. Sometimes, we breed for one desirable trait and end up with a whole package of undesirables to go with it. Geneticists talk about “linked pairs” of genes — you try to select for one trait and find that it necessarily comes with another, no getting rid of it. And then we REALLY screw up breeds of animals by “line breeding” (a nicer way of saying inbreeding) related animals together to heavily emphasize a trait, which in turn then magnifies all the other traits those related animals share, good or bad. That’s why so many dog breeds are so screwed up.

    Bison in captivity and in Yellowstone can and do get really used to certain things and they stop wasting energy on responding to them. Things like automobiles, snowmachines, people, and so on. That’s to be expected.

    But, that doesn’t mean they’re really losing their ability to take care of themselves. I’ve been around cattle that have been hunted by wolves, and they got their fight-AND-flight really tuned back up in just a few weeks.

    Bison, I doubt they would take that long, but it’s never really gone. You could try to breed it out, but we’re talking about tens of thousands of years of natural selection giving us the superbly adapted creature we see today. There’s not a lot of “docility” space to play with or amplify on the chromosome with bison. With cattle, we’ve been breeding them to be easily-handled meat-making machines for thousands of generations.

  36. Barb Avatar

    People who have grown up on ranches where predators are treated like diseased rats are going to be the hardest ones to persuade that predators deserve to be treated with respect and protected, not treated with contempt.

    However, because of the high cost of land, more and more private ranchers are going out of business and large corporations are taking over.

    Does anyone think this will make a difference, one way or the other, in how they treat predators?

    Also, does anyone know what Western states still allow steel leg hold traps and snares? God, I can’t even stand to think of any animal suffering in something like that!

  37. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Am I free to hunt on public land leased by ranchers from the state and federal gov? Typically, a rancher has something like 640 acres of “deeded land” that s/he owns, and with it comes a 6,400 acre grazing allotment on public lands. Private, deeded land is just that–private. If a rancher wants to nuke s/hes private land, it’s not my business. But Is the “public land” ranchers lease open to the public, or are we locked out?

    I want deer and elk and antelope to hunt on my public lands; more cattle and sheep means less wild game for me to hunt. Since grazing fees don’t foot the bill, I’m subsidizing ranchers. Bad enough that they’re on welfare–if they can lock me out of public lands, too, I’ll really be ticked off.

    I like predators–coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, golden eagles, bears–so my taxes paying for government employees to nuke predators on behalf of ranchers adds insult to injury.

    Does anyone know the details on public access to public lands leased by ranchers?

  38. Barb Avatar

    That’s a great question! I’d love to know the answer to that too. I would guess it might vary from location to location depending on how large the parcel is?

    You could call the BLM or check their website:

    or check out

  39. Brian Ertz Avatar

    fenced bison …

    Dave, more and more private ranchers are denying right-of ways to vast expanses of public lands. we’ve had that problem in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. This is obviously detrimental to the public’s ability to access public land with regard to hunting, fishing, but also public oversight associated with monitoring ecological conditions and bringing legal accountability to the endeavor of welfare ranching. often, a particular rancher will use “environmentalists” as an excuse to lock you out of your public land ~ they fear the accountability of the public ~ don’t believe them.

    public access in general to public lands leased by ranchers, as mentioned before, where access in not through private property ~ is secured — however, in my experience it is too often the case that these public lands are ravaged/robbed of many of the values including hunting, angling, or just the small slice of heaven/serenity… it’s denuded of its ecological vibrance, if you can recognize what would have been there.

    it’s time to end welfare ranching

  40. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Taylor Grazing Act 43 USC 315:

    “Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed as in any way altering or restricting the right to hunt or fish within a grazing district in accordance with the laws of the United States or of any State, or as vesting in any permittee any right whatsoever to interfere with hunting or fishing within a grazing district.”

  41. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Do I have a yes–and a no? Doesn’t Montana have some sort of “block access” for hunters on ranches where the state pays ranchers to allow public access? But is this for public access to private ranch land, or public land leased by a rancher. Because if the public has to pay to subsidize grazing, pay to subsidize killing predators, and then pay for the privilage of hunting on the same land . . . it seems like a bit much.

    I’ve focused on hunting access to “leased” public land, but of course everyone from birders to the ATV crowd is affected. The ATV crowd in particular complains about being “locked out” of public lands.

    Again, do ranchers who lease grazing allotments of public land have the right to lock the public off that land? I realize there are going to be some cases where there’s no access to the leased land without first trespassing on private land. But there must be 10s of millions of acres of leased land adjacent to county roads, US Forest Service land, etc. You wouldn’t have to go thru private property for access.

    I can understand where a rancher might say, I’m paying to lease the land, so I deserve some control. Fine. But if it can be locked up and essentially used as private land, why doesn’t the government lease it to the highest bidder so the public gets the maximum amount of money from the deal? Hunting clubs, conservation groups, birders, and millionaires would all pay more than the chump change ranchers pay. If it’s essentially private land, why not lease it to the highest bidder, since the only benefit the public gets is $$$$$$ money?

  42. Concerned Avatar


    No, they cannot restrict access to leased public lands, that is the way the law is wrote, in actual practice you might find some that do, especially if their private land is butted up to the public land they lease.As far as the benefit the public gets, it is a very small amount, compared to what the market price for the land is..

  43. Brian Ertz Avatar

    they can’t restrict access to public land that has public access… there are a few instances where access has been denied to the public where the only access to public land is through private property.

  44. dbaileyhill Avatar

    Thank you for all the extra info. The first thought that came to mind is, it’s always the easiest route, and does not require much effort. The crappy attribute of human nature.

  45. SAP Avatar

    & the crappy burden of history.

  46. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Are we sure people can’t restrict access to leased public lands?

    “Block Management Opportunities Abound
    For the 2007 hunting season, approximately 1,250 landowners have enrolled about 8 million acres of land in the Block Management Program.”

    If I do the math right, that’s an average of 6,400 acres of private land each. That thar’s a big spread, even for John Wayne.

    If I want to purchase the G Bar T ranch in Montana for $8.5 million, a real estate ad says, “The ranch operates on approximately 25,000 acres of which over 5,300 is deeded and an absolute haven for wildlife. Located within an hour of Helena and Bozeman airports”

    I can’t quite afford the $8.5 million, but as a taxpayer, the 20,000 acres of non-deeded public land are mine? I’m free to go hunting or birding on that land as long as can get there without crossing private property?

  47. Concerned Avatar


    Yes, that is the way the law reads, you can hunt on those public lands that you don’t have to cross private lands to cross, at least that is the way it is suppose to work.

  48. Concerned Avatar

    that is you don’t have to cross private land to get to, unless you have written permission, as long as it is public land open to hunting, then you can hunt it…

  49. SAP Avatar

    And, you can’t cross at a corner boundary, at least in Montana. That is, if, say, a BLM section’s corner touches a state section’s corner, you can’t hop over that corner to get into an otherwise inaccessible state section. Otherwise, if it’s public land and you can get to it without trespassing, you can go roam around to your heart’s content.

    The only exceptions I’ve seen (besides fire closures) are on some timber sales (mainly on state lands).

  50. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Several years ago near Casper, Wyoming, there was a ranch that was able to block access to a large parcel of public land through manipulating private land purchases. It was an area particularly suited for pronghorn and mule deer, which is why the private landowner wanted to block it off. Some enterprising helicopter pilot however began to advertise overflights of private property to land hunters on public land. There was nothing the private landowner could do except utter empty threats.

    Leases of public land do not entitle the leasee to block off access to the public, although they try all the time. It requires geographical and legal savvy on the part of the individuals wanting access to force the issue when the landowners throw up No Trespassing signs and sometimes point weapons.

  51. Lisa Upson, NRDC Avatar
    Lisa Upson, NRDC

    There is currently a public comment period open — until
    March 5 — about whether Wildlife Services should be able to use M-44s (sodium cyanide) and Compound 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) in predator control. Thanks to a petition filed by Sinapu (now WildEarth Guardians) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the EPA is taking comments on whether to cancel registration of these highly lethal toxicants. I urge everyone who opposes Wildlife Services’ predator control methods, or at least the unnecessary, unjustifiable, and inhumane use of M-44s and Compound 1080, to submit a comment to the EPA by March 5, 2008. For more info, and how to submit a comment, here is a recent Op Ed by Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians and myself (credit really belonging with Wendy):

    Poisons Placed on Public Lands Kill Wildlife and Dogs, Pose a National Security Hazard

    In February 2006, a two-year-old dog named Jenna tugged on a smelly lure set out for coyotes on federal public lands in eastern Utah. The lure was part of an M-44, a cyanide trap used to kill coyotes and other native carnivores. When an animal tugs on the bait, a spring shoots a capsule containing sodium cyanide powder into the animal’s mouth. Mixing with moisture, the cyanide turns into a deadly gas. Jenna asphyxiated from the cyanide in 90 seconds.

    Jenna’s owner, Sam Pollock, was returning from a rabbit-hunting trip when Jenna triggered the M-44. She died in Pollock’s arms. Distraught, Pollock carried Jenna’s poisoned body two miles back to his truck so he could bury her at home.

    Pollock later complained of a headache and a metallic taste in his mouth to a state agriculture agent who investigated the incident. Despite his secondary exposure to cyanide from the M-44, no action was taken against the U.S. agency that places M-44s on public lands, USDA’s Wildlife Services, and no compensation was provided to Pollock.

    Between 2004 and 2006, Wildlife Services killed 6,156,223 animals (including an average of 515 dogs and 1,143 cats per year) to protect agricultural interests—at an annual cost of $100 million. Most were killed with lethal poisons. Roughly 13,000 animals each year, or 1.6 animals per hour, were killed with sodium cyanide.

    Compound 1080, a colorless, odorless, tasteless poison is also used in animal control, but it is so toxic, it’s banned in several countries and all but eleven U.S. states. Both sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 are biological warfare agents, and are rated by the EPA at the highest level of acute toxicity. Tiny doses of these poisons can kill several humans.

    In a post 9/11 world, Wildlife Services’ program poses a national security hazard, not only to those who enjoy recreating on federal public lands, but to us all. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, the USDA Office of Inspector General released audits revealing that Wildlife Services was not in compliance with the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act. Wildlife Services had not secured access to toxicants from unauthorized persons; individuals using toxicants had inadequate training; and poison inventories were insecure. Not one of Wildlife Service’s facilities was in compliance. In November 2007, Wildlife Services itself admitted that it had experienced a “wake of accidents” and announced that it was undertaking an internal self-examination of its national program—including its toxics programs.

    Pollock’s story is hardly unique. In April 2006, Sharyn Aguiar lost her German Shepard to cyanide from an M-44 while working on BLM lands. Dennis Slaugh, who had been hunting for arrowheads, set off an M-44 four years ago. He thought he was straightening a survey stake. Slaugh has been ill ever since, cannot breath properly, and can no longer work. Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has demanded an inquiry. There are many stories like this from all over the West.

    Despite the prevailing myth, the economics of livestock production do not justify the risks predator poisons create for people, pets, and wildlife. Wolves, grizzly bears, and California Condors protected under the Endangered Species Act have all been killed with these deadly poisons. In fact, tens of thousands of non-target species are killed each year, including badgers, birds, bobcats, black bears, and many more. Yet, less than 1% of the U.S. cattle production in 2005 were killed by predators, and 3% of the 2004 sheep production were killed by predators. This miniscule loss hardly merits Wildlife Services’ wildlife-killing budget of $100 million annually. It is time for livestock growers to use effective non-lethal protection measures such as night penning, sheds, fences, guard animals, and electronic scaring devices. Using poisons to manage wildlife is inhumane, unnecessary, and unjustifiable, and it poses far too many dangers.

    The Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on whether to ban sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 until March 5, 2008. Send to: Office of Pesticide Programs, Regulatory Public Docket (7502P), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460-0001, or go to to submit a comment online. Reference Docket Number EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-0944.

  52. mikarooni Avatar

    Since this particular round of support for wildlife services was apparently instigated by the sheepherders, wouldn’t it make sense to not wear wool or eat mutton or lamb?

  53. TPageCO Avatar

    One additional note regarding public access to public lands for hunting: State Trust Lands are sometimes considered to be under the control of the leasing landowner, and that includes the right of access to hunt. This varies state to state. State Trust Lands are supposed to be managed for the schools, prisons, etc., but it doesn’t work that way all the time (some of the time?). Most of us would consider these lands to be public, and often F&G departments lease them from the State Land Board for public hunting, among other activities.

  54. JB Avatar

    One thing folks should know about Aphis-Wildlife Services ( is that they do a lot more than simply kill wildlife. They are responsible for the National Wildlife Research Center (in CO), which researchers zoonotic disease such as rabies, bovine TB, CWD, etc. They also do a lot of research on non-lethal control of predators and other species of wildlife determined to be a nuisance (though these are not implemented nearly enough, in my opinion).

    At any rate, they are part of a broken SYSTEM that provides livestock producers with incentives for degrading public resources. While I agree that the culture at WS needs to change, this will follow with the removal of incentives.

  55. Catbestland Avatar

    Thanks Lisa

    This is something that we should all follow up on before March 5, if we haven’t done so already.

  56. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    One word about State Lands in Wyoming. They are not considered “public lands” the way federal lands are; they are property of the State, granted to the States upon statehood to fund schools. You’ll hear sometimes the phrase, State School Lands. The State does impose major restrictions–for example, you can hunt on state lands, but you can’t camp on them.

    Ranchers consider them their own special fief; there are state school lands upon which ranchers have built houses, outbuildings, etc. There are also legal preference rights for renewal of state land leases. Challenges to the preference rights, based upon the claim that anyone who offers a higher fee for a lease on state lands should be able to get it, since the sole purpose of those lands is to fund schools, have failed.

    The fate of state lands under State management is a warning to those who might support granting federal lands to the states. They’d effectively be privatized in an instant.

  57. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Barb….most western states do allow snares and leg hold traps. Presently, in Montana, the non-profit “” is advocating “trap free public lands”. Check their website.
    Also Oregon has a movement to ban them””.

  58. Barb Avatar

    Thanks for the info, Jerry. That’s a tragedy — that most Western states are still using these barbaric practices.

    Request to Lisa, NDRC: Instead of posting an entire excerpt from a website re: cyanide poisonings of wildlife (which most of us are most likely already aware of) please just post the HYPERLINK — it’s more helpful anyway when wanting to take action. I think most bloggers here would agree. Perhaps a small portion of the excerpt with …. and the hyperlink.

  59. Barb Avatar

    Anyone who cares about predatory animals you MUST check out this link:

    You won’t believe your eyes — !

  60. Barb Avatar

    Anyone —

    Your opinion please:

    Would it be realistic to try to get a NATIONWIDE BAN on using traps and snares?

    It could take 100 years to go state by state.

  61. Concerned Avatar


    You would have to get a really strong ground swell to even get it started, it is unfortunate that 95% of the American public does not even know about traps and snares, you would have to get support from those living in the cities, because I doubt you will get it from those living in the rural areas of America…and I am not being negative, but realistic, with the many causes that are being fought right now on the conservation front, I believe you would have a very difficult time as most people will only split their support among so many causes..and I seriously doubt that you would get the Federal Government behind it..

    Just my opinion

  62. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Barb, it’s my understanding that Footloose is considering a major attempt to ban trap and snares nationwide – don’t know if there’s anything on their site which states such, though – but share their website with everybody you know:

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  63. Concerned Avatar

    Footloose is a good way to have your voice mean more than just one in the crowd.

  64. JB Avatar


    I disagree with Concerned about this. Numerous studies show that support for the use of leg-hold and snare traps is extremely low; thus, when it comes to a voate (as it did in Colorado) traps get banned. However, there are still a couple of major obstacles: one is the lack of knowledge that Concerned mentioned, the second is that given that we are in a crisis of sorts with two failing wars and a failing social welfare system (e.g. social security, health care), it would be extremely hard (in my estimation) to get people with limited time to care enough to write their congress person regarding the use of these traps.

    Also, I would point out that it is important to low for exemptions for the use of traps for research and public health purposes. I believe such exemptions would further increase support for trapping bans.

  65. Concerned Avatar


    Yes, in CO, CA and several of the other more developed areas of the country, there is big support for getting rid of them, but when you start going into the rural areas of the SE as well as Montana, and many areas in the west, , the support level increase dramatically for trapping, this is just based on information I have gathered, when exploring the idea of getting rid of the trapping in this country. There is no way anything is going to be banned, until such time as those who wish to ban, take the time to understand he reasons and traditions many of these things are based on…all issues have two sides and when you start talking about peoples traditions as well as there lively hood, your in for a fight…

  66. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    According to the 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report on hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers, there are approximately 71,132,000 wildlife watchers in this country; 29,952,000 anglers and 12,510,000 hunters.

    Quite large base of wildlife watchers, eh? My gut tells me that a sizable percentage of those wildlife watchers (and X percentage of angler and hunters) would be opposed to snaring and trapping and could be motivated to pressure both their respective state legislatures as well as Congress.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  67. JB Avatar


    I agree that support is definitely higher in rural areas, but I don’t think it reaches the level where you would see public outcry against a trapping ban. A nationwide study conducted in 1995 regarding wildlife damage management found that 80% of respondents indicated that leghold traps were “not humane.” While this is not the same as “support,” it indicates that the vast majority of people are not comfortable with the use of leghold traps. I agree with you–there are two sides to the issue–what I’m saying is that one side might not have adequate numbers to mount an effective opposition.

  68. Concerned Avatar


    it is indeed unfortunate that many of us here on the net, with passions bared, do in fact live in a very small world. We are passionate in our beliefs and very vocal for our causes, I am sure I could stand on any street corner in Middle America and come up with the same statistics, but when it came down to actually doing something about it…I am not so sure..when these studies are done, they need to be quantified based on demographics as well as residency(rural or city)? or they are pretty much useless in my opinion…in my personal experience, I know for a fact that the numbers of supporters for wildlife swell in the summer months when they are visiting areas that contain wildlife and then wane when they are not there experiencing the wildlife. I was involved in a study back when I was in school that showed that most will support a cause, while immersed in the activity that brings the cause to the fore front, unfortunately, most people are not immersed in the cause year around…

    Now this is just my opinion based on my experience, and I am sure others have had different experiences.

  69. barbprotectswildlife Avatar

    I will check out footloose. Groups are good and individuals writing are helpful as well.

    It’ll take a flood of letters though — we need a focused campaign strictly to ban those types of traps nationwide.


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Brian Ertz