Mexican Wolf Saved From Extinction but Snared in Politics

A Wolf Saved From Extinction but Snared in Politics. Deaths Due to Management Diminish Wild Population’s Genetic Diversity. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post Staff Writer

I am encouraged by the increasing national attention to the wolf issue. Hopefully a backlash is brewing.

Wildlife management is 50% biology and practical knowledge and 50% politics. Any student majoring in this area should be told this.

Removing problem wolves does almost no good. The livestock interests are just as opposed afterwards, and in the case of the Mexican wolf actually seem interested in baiting them with their “precious” cattle, willing to  sacrifice a calf so the government will then kill a rare Mexican wolf in a “control action”







  1. Jon Way Avatar

    From article:
    “I’d really like to see them gone,” said Barbara Marks, who chairs the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association’s wildlife committee and operates a cattle ranch with her husband that includes 225 acres of private property and 71,775 acres of public land. ”

    My response:
    Get your god-damn cattle off our 71,775 and stick to your 225 acres then which is 0.3% of the land area. The American people own the other 99.7% and don’t want you making a profit on our land.

  2. patricksperry Avatar

    They probably paid good money to lease that land. If you have a a problem with that Jon, then get those laws changed.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    In response to patricksperry,

    If you want to see the laws dealing the livestock changed, you could not do better at this time than join the Western Watersheds Project.

    They are no weak-kneed group interested in sitting down and collaborating and settling for crumbs from the livestock interests.

    Despite the adverse political situation, they win lawsuit after lawsuit, and after the elections, with your help, they will be in the position to effectively suggest language for new laws.

    About their legal efforts.

  4. Jon Way Avatar

    Yes, thanks Ralph. And others have good figures but they don’t pay good money. It is a laughable handout that ranchers pay (like in 1960s dollars) to graze on our public lands. More like a nominal fee than good money.
    And yes, I do support groups that are trying to change these laws. Thanks for asking. And I have had quite a few people stop eating beef (incl. myself) b.c of this.

  5. Brian Ertz Avatar

    it’d be an improvement just to see the already existing laws enforced

  6. jimbob Avatar

    Good point Jonway. I also think that when you take into account the number of livestock killed by wolves per year that weather is a more significant problem, or even drought. When it comes down to it, these livestock interests don’t want to be told what to do on “their” land, even though it is not “their” land it is the American public’s. If they lost the right to complain about predators livestock interests would be merely “tenants” on the land (which is what they technically are) and then be forced to leave the land like they found it, or pay for it if they damage it.

  7. patricksperry Avatar

    I happen to know that the family that I married into do one hell of a job protecting the land that they control. I also know that what they pay for the leases is pretty much what they make from the cattle that are there. That does change with the markets, to be sure. But the flavor of this thread is one that insults the small rancher, or family farmer.
    Brian: No, the laws on the books are not properly enforced, much like the feel good gun laws. Got a solution? I am listening.
    Ralph: I was a part of that organization when it started up. When times got bad, and I couldn’t donate more than sweat. I got dumped. No thank you Sir, I will not be returning.
    Jim: I happen to like wolves. No, not on the ranch, but I like them. My reasons are not at all altruistic. I found this site through a link that loves coyotes. Wolves also like Coyotes apparently, they are good tasting.

    It would seem that we have more in common, than otherwise. We shall see I suppose.

    WWP is very fond of people who can only donate their sweat. If you were indeed once a member and a volunteer, if you “got dumped,” it must have been mutual or philosophical. I see you have the Conservative Libertarian Outpost blog. Sometimes libertarians are attracted to the WWP because of its opposition to government subsidization of the livestock industry, but unlike libertarians WWP is not an ideological organization. I can see how a relationship would not be a lasting one.. Ralph Maughan

  8. patricksperry Avatar

    Oh and to this…
    “Get your god-damn cattle off our 71,775 and stick to your 225 acres then which is 0.3% of the land area. The American people own the other 99.7% and don’t want you making a profit on our land.”
    I didn’t know that God, or man, had damned cattle. Thank you for educating me. Citation please so that I can pass this on.

  9. Brian Ertz Avatar


    I am glad that you are listening. My solution would be to suggest enforcing the law. You can help do that by heeding Ralph’s note. It’s also looking like folk who find the (ab)use of our public land by livestock not to be acceptable ~ and who are looking to facilitate a smooth transition away from such use ~ are in effect advocating conditions most favorable to wolves. Jon Way is right.

  10. vicki Avatar

    Not every person who posts here hates small ranchers.
    I have to question what you said earlier. If they make only enough to pay the lease, why do they continue to do it?
    Nastalgia is a poor reason, so please tell me it isn’t about that. If they make very little, they should weigh the cost on the environment, and place it into the debit column. I’m sure they’d find they were operating on a loss.
    I would hope thatthey find another source of income, because the small ranchers are fading into the same west that wolves once thrived into…history’s version.
    The reality is that change happens. It would seem that ranchers are trying to dig their heels in. In days past that may have worked. But this is a world that is headed in a direction that leaves the small ranchers little choice.
    That can not be blamed on wolves, but speaks to the domination of an industry that was formerly based in small proprietorships. That industry is now dominated by corporations that utilize litle public land.
    In this rare instance, conservation and large industry are both causing the same outcome….an end to public land grazing. It may take a decade or two, but the days of leasing land for grazing are going by faster than you can say “range rider”.
    I find it sad that people who have known this their whole lives will soon need another job. I find it sadder still that MILLIONS of people may never see a wild west in it’s true form… free, green and healthy for animals.
    I live in a relatively small city. I have met, quite literally, hundreds of kids who have never fished, hunted, camped or even been to the mountains that are 30 minutes from their home. They have never seen a coyote or a wolf, or an elk. Their chances of doing that dwindle with each cow that grazes public lands. I find that far sadder than the previous.
    I can rectify some of that by taking these kids to the mountain, so to speek. WWP and the NWF will work hard to rectify the grazing part.
    Like it or not, the time has come to place value on something other than cattle. Those kids have rights too.

  11. patricksperry Avatar

    Viki: The family has been there for many years. They homesteaded the place. Made friends with, and married into the Ute tribe. They were the only whites spared during the Meeker Massacre in that area. They love that land, and even feel a spiritual oneness with it.
    As for the economics? That is where I came in. They were engaged in the usual raise as many cattle as you can, and sell the. It was not a sound policy. We sold all those cattle. Moved in Red Angus, and raise them completely on the family land. Not on the BLM lease for any that care. They are then sold as “Organic.” The ranch is again profitable, and no, the ranch does not accept any government subsidies at all.
    The BLM land is managed for wildlife. It is critical habitat for Elk and Mule Deer. Yes, we do allow hunting on a very restricted basis, and no, we do not charge for that.

    As for the comment about “sweat.” I have done a lot of grunt work in my days on behalf of conservation. Usually on Isaac Walton League projects. But also for the NWTF, RMEF, and TU.

    And the comment about family ranches and farms; I will pass that on to all the families in the Meeker Valley, and eleswhere…

  12. vicki Avatar

    It would seem that a family so in tune with the land will also want to see it heel. Their’s is one of the sadder stories I have heard. I will keep the family in my thoughts, and hope that they find some other way to live on or near the land they love.
    Like I said, I really feel for families who have known nothing else. I do feel it is inevitable though. I also feel very strongly thatthe greater good is preserving the land for future generations. That is a practice every native tribe would want the world to embrace.
    Perhaps the future will hold a way for your family to share their history (seems rich inculture and tales) and make a living through that.
    I’m not sure what “sweat” comment you mean? But I am sure that I personally mean no disrespect to either you or the families involved. Though my sympathy is with them, my heart is with the land too. It is a situation that offers few options and will undoubtedly result in life changes for many.

    I am one of those romantics that believes the west has given us so much in terms of history and inspiration. I am hoping that saving the wilds of this country will give us more of that to look forward to. I realize that the west of this day and age is different from the west we used to know. The west of the future will be more different still. But it can still boast similarities worth recognizing… beauty, wilderness, villians and heroes, but for the most part, it boasts real people with real problems and real diversity. That will never change.
    In this economy, many people will struggle. I hope that your family will find a way (without cattle) to mainatin their standard of living.
    Take care.

  13. vicki Avatar

    One more thing, it is note worthy that they don’t graze public land. That is a huge factor… so in that fact, I doubt many here have any opposition, as long as they are practicing a wolf diversion as opposed to extermination.
    Most of those who post here (in my opinion) primarily want cattle off of public land, and wolves to get a fair shake.
    I know many ranchers are committed to killing wolves without hesitation… others would like to co-exist peacefully.
    Hopefully your family holds firm in the belief that the wolves have a right to exist on the same land their ancestors did..

  14. Scott Avatar

    To all those posting opinions on this site here are some interesting facts: Despite what you have been told cattle do not destroy rangeland. Just as native ungulates (buffalo, elk, deer, etc. do not). It is not in the rancher’s interest to allow this to happen with their domestic stock. If the rangeland degenerates, it produces less forage. Less forage means fewer cows. The best bet is to strike a healthy balance that maximizes forage production and thus healthy range conditions. All wildlife benefits from healthy rangeland. It is a good byproduct of cattle grazing.

    Range use by cattle today is nothing compared to historic uses by buffalo. Good thing we removed all the buffalo right? Using your logic that was a good thing.

    Most of the native graminoid species (that’s grasses) and palatable forbs evolved with ungulate grazing or browsing the biomass that is produced. Most native plants produced mechanisms and reproduction techniques that rely on this happening. It has been proven over and over again that removing cattle actually produces undesirable trends in rangeland condition. If you don’t believe me, research what the Nature Conservancy has learned after purchasing thousands of acres of rangeland for elk and other wildlife, removed all the cattle, only to discover that the elk and other species then avoided their land in favor of local ranchlands. The Nature Conservancy now leases the land to local ranchers in an effort to improve forage conditions. If you want to know why, do your own research instead of listening to each others rhetoric. Don’t listen to me, don’t listen to each other, don’t listen to other emotionally motivated enviros, DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK! Always use science and beware of emotional opinion being substituted for facts.

    As for the government subsidies that you keep referring to. Baloney! A ranch is typically profitable one year in seven. The only ranches with a future are the ones that have managed to become debt free a few generations ago. No rancher is going to sacrifice a calf to a predator in hopes of gaining public goodwill. It doesn’t work because, frankly, the public doesn’t care if a rancher has a bit of bad luck. Like most people don’t care if your city business has an unprofitable month or even goes out of business. Let’s be real.

    When the land was settled most ranching establishments wanted to buy the adjoining rangelands. The government controlled it, and no one else in the world every even saw it. The government promised over and over again that the land would be available for use and the ranches, the family, communities, and towns did not have to worry. So, people built business and communities on this promise. Ranchers wanted to own the land as they did their adjoining homesteads and would have gladly paid taxes on that land, but time and time again they were refused. The government (you and all the other US citizens) would have received more in tax payments than in grazing fees received.

    As for the wolf being an animal that only hunts for food and is no threat to humans. Well, you haven’t been out of your city long enough or often enough to see for yourselves how nature really works. When a coyote or wolf makes a kill, the prey suffers terribly and consumption usually starts at the hind end. Entrails are ripped out and eating begins while the animal is usually still alive. I’ve been there, seen it in the wilderness (as a Wilderness Ranger) and on the ranch (as a Ranch Manager). Predators are opportunists and are going to seek the easiest prey which promotes the least amount of risk to themselves. It has always been this way and always will be. As wolf populations increase (as mountain lion pops. have) It is only a matter of time before the prey is people (as the case with lions and bears). Use some common sense please!

    I hope not one of you complain about the cost of your food. Your efforts make it harder and harder for ranchers and farmers to survive. Farm families are going out of business every day. If you rejoice at this, then by your logic, you should also be happy about the price of your food skyrocketing. It is a 1:1 relationship. Also, you have to realize that most ranching operations you run out of business are not going away. Instead, the rancher is subdividing the land into 10 acre parcels. How many wolves do you think all the 10 acre ranchettes in the US support. If you can’t make an educated guess, the answer is zero.

    The science and facts have been so twisted by those of you practicing wolf or enviro religion that you disregard facts, science, and common sense. I’ve made my living in the backcountry and have come to the conclusion that analytical thinking has been lost among those who allow others to think for them. Believe it or not there is more wildlife and more wildlife diversity on well managed timberlands and rangelands than in wilderness. I’ve seen it myself as a wilderness ranger and the multitude of university studies support my observations. Again, if you want to understand why, educate yourself.

    Research real, reproducible science for yourself, separate fact from opinion, and manage with science not emotion and whole ecosystem will benefit.

    Scott Miller
    Union, OR

    (Range Mngt grad, Ranch Manger, and former Wilderness Ranger)

  15. jimbob Avatar

    Scott—either you were fed the same propaganda as you espouse or you are trying to feed it to us. Re: cattle using land the same as bison; bison moved over the land feeding as they moved. This allowed the grass to mature and come to seed when they moved on. Many species of grasses do not re-seed until they are longer and older. Obviously continuous grazing by cattle does not allow this to happen. Some species of grass spread by runners or by the root, but these species do not benefit either by being kept short which happens with most cattle grazing. Just like the fact that cattle are confined to the same land and do not move on which would allow the grass to recover and come back. Cattle are confined and graze whether there is drought or not, which seriously impacts the ability of the native vegetation to come back, and which allows succession (for instance , when native grass usually outcompetes juniper, juniper will sping forth when grass is too short). I would think anybody who has examined range conditions and been a keen observer of true research (not ag-funded research) would know that. Obviously responsible grazing has less of an impact, but how common is that?

  16. jimbob Avatar

    By the way, scott, observing the destruction of extractive industries and unnecessary killing of predators by ranching industries and being disgusted by it is not “enviro religion”. I’d say it’s more a mark of intelligence. Observing, learning, and looking for change when things don’t work.

  17. Catbestland Avatar


    ” Believe it or not there is more wildlife and more wildlife diversity on well managed timberlands and rangelands than in wilderness. I’ve seen it myself. . ”

    I believe that there are more of the types of wildlife that are acceptable to ranchers on these lands but what about ALL forms of wildlife??? What about predators which are just as important to the overall health of the ecosystems as the rancher preferred forms of wildlife. Don’t they deserve to be part of that equasion?

    And as for the cost of food, more and more people are becoming educated as to the unacceptable high cost of that food. In terms of high cost to the ecosystems and wildlife, as well as to their own health. More and more are choosing to forego the beef based diet for these reasons. So let the cost of beef soar. The higher it goes, the less people will buy, the better for the ecosystems and wildlife.

  18. Maska Avatar

    “No rancher is going to sacrifice a calf to a predator in hopes of gaining public goodwill.”

    Whether or not the alleged baiting incident reported in High Country News (12/24/07) actually occurred is still under investigation. However, the motivation, if it did occur, was clearly not “gaining public goodwill,” but rather getting the Durango alpha female lethally removed pursuant to the draconian provisions of SOP 13.0–three confirmed depredations of livestock in 365 days and the wolf is removed.

    Of course, since the three depredations required for removal under SOP 13.0 must be CONFIRMED depredations, they are compensated by Defenders of Wildlife (although I believe they have temporarily suspended payments to this particular permittee until such time as questions surrounding the alleged baiting incident are resolved).

  19. Chris H. Avatar
    Chris H.

    Please explain what happens to livestock betwen the time they leave the range and the time they hit the grocery. I sincerely doubt that many people have the stomach for that process. The only hing that makes it remotely humane is that most people are fortunate enough to not see how livestock are processed.

    My guess is that if wolves or any other predator could go in the store and buy dinner they would instead of working so hard for it.

  20. Scott Avatar

    I’ll try to respond if I’m allowed enough room:

    Jimbob: You assume wherever cattle are, the grasses are grazed to 100% utilization. Any rancher who practices this, as a rule, is no longer in business or will shortly be out of business. As a rancher, first and foremost, we have to grow quality and consistent forage before you can grow livestock. Yes, grasses do need rest to recoup. Grazing beyond 50% utilization leads to root damage. Yes, grasses that are not rhizomatous (spreading by roots as many native species do; you call it “runners”) do need to grow and reseed themselves in order to maintain their representation in the overall forage population. Most ranchers I know utilize a rest rotation or deferred rotation technique to enable this process. I have worked in the livestock industry in MT, OR, WY, and WA and have not seen operators operate this way as a rule. Sure there are some bad examples, but your words are misleading. My last paper on the subject “Pedoturbation of Mollisols” (in English; animal disturbances of prairie soils) lead to excerpts from Lewis and Clark, early settlers, trappers, hide hunters, and Native American accounts of Bison herds and the effects of their grazing. Herds were noted from the hundreds to the “millions” in some accounts, but what I found most interesting were the travelers who reported covering swaths going on for miles where forage was “unavailable” and the ground had the “appearance of being plowed” (bison hoof action) for “miles and miles 8 to 14 inches deep”. Forage and soil so decimated the settlers had to continue to find feed for their draft animals. Interestingly enough, animal action today (ground squirrels, badgers, gophers, prairie dogs etc.) turn over the top three feet of soil in a seven year period in a typical prairie setting. The historic, natural cycle by bison was a rest rotation where the prairie was literally obliterated and then left for months or sometimes years to recuperate. If the bison didn’t return to an area soon, you would often find the Native Americans conducting burns to remove all of the decadent growth and initiate new, tender sprouts that grow back from the root crown. This would encourage the bison to return to graze the more tender, sweet, and nutritious forage. No, we don’t obliterate the ground with cattle and then let it rest until it recovers, we manage the forage so that ground cover is maintained and the grass plants can quickly recover. We try not to graze below the last growing point of the grass so that the plant does not have to recover all the way from the root crown. It’s interesting that the Nature Conservancy is using cattle to emulate bison grazing at their Pine Butte Swamp ranch in Montana. Removing the older, decadent growth with cattle promotes the plants to resprout with young, tender, and more nutritious growth which in turn attracts the deer and elk. They do this with cows! That’s also the place where they discovered the habitat they provided for ungulates was no longer being used (I’m talking thousands of acres) once cattle were excluded.

    Bison had to eat as well whether it was drought or not. So that is not really an argument. Bison numbers, of past, outnumbered the current numbers of cattle on the same range today. Imagine that! It’s well documented. Your account of the Juniper habitat type is incorrect and just about wins you the Darwin award on Range statements. Juniper “will spring forth” as you say; will out compete native or introduced grass species where fire is prevented. Grazing has little impact on where Juniper exists. Juniper is a climax species in a Juniper habitat type. Juniper density is by far and large a function of fire activity in a semi-arid habitat type where the soil type gives advantage to deep rooted plants. Juniper density can be increased by grazing, but it is fire that dictates its overall density. I hope you don’t often use juniper as an example of cattle grazing damage when trying to lambaste the cattle industry.

    Research is research if the proceedings survive peer review and the results are reproducible. If you are going to hand pick your science based on it’s funding you are doing everyone and everything a disservice. I accept research findings from anybody when it meets this scientific criterion. I would urge you to do the same. Read Dr. Patrick Moore’s book “Pacific Spirit”. Moore was a founder of Greenpeace. He started studying ecology himself and now has some interesting things to say. Some things I don’t like to hear and I am sure many things you won’t want to hear, but he tells the truth. I’m not feeding you anything that is not wholesome and nutritious fact. As I stated many times in my first post, Don’t listen to me or anyone else (don’t chew and swallow). Simply do your own homework. Research your own facts. Use the subject you are so passionate about, form theories and then do the research to test your own hypothesis.

    I have not mentioned an “extractive industry”. I referenced the livestock and timber industry. Both utilized renewable resources which return to a natural state after use. This leads to the reason why there is more wildlife on well managed timber lands and ranch lands than in wilderness areas. It’s really pretty simple. I will reference the Rocky Mountain ecosystems since that is what I am most familiar with. Here we go. Historically, in the Rocky Mountain Ecosystem you could expect a ground fire (lightening caused) in any given spot every 20 – 30 years. Well documented easy research proves this. A stand replacing fire every 100 – 125 years. (old growth historically only existed in small, protected pockets).Today our wilderness areas are chocked full of dead and dying trees (trees have a life expectancy too). Fire has been prevented for so long, we have put our wilderness areas in an unnatural state. Historically, the forests were more park like with grasses and forbs growing between the trees. The trees provided shelter and the grasses and forbs provided food. Now we have forests where the canopy is so dense, sunlight does not reach the forest floor and thus there is no forage beneath the trees. On top of that the dead and fallen trees present such a physical barrier that large animals avoid the forests so as not to be trapped there by predators. When a stand replacing event occurs (fire or clear-cut) or even transitional event (ground fire or mechanical thinning) the ecosystem is knocked back to a seral stage. Pioneer species usually move in first. These are usually grasses and forbs. In time it transitions to more forbs and shrubs, then, shrubs and trees, and then more trees, and then fire again or logging. During this transition the evolution plays host to a variety of species by providing a variety of forage and shelter. Now, if we are not going to let nature take it’s course by allowing fires to burn and set the plant diversity back to a more seral stage, and we are not because there are too many people around, then the next best thing we can do is thin the forest or provide small clear-cuts to emulate fire activity. Yes, it has been proven and well documented that careful logging can be the next best thing to natural fire where fire is not an option. The best thing we could do for wildlife is support a let burn policy in the wilderness and support careful logging techniques elsewhere. In Idaho where are the majority of the wolf dens? Hint: not on public land. As of 2003 I knew this for a fact as I had the coordinates myself via my work as a GIS manager (geographic informations system) and database manager for the largest land owner in N. Id. I worked in technology for eight years before returning to agriculture. Why did the wolves choose private timberlands over wilderness? Because that is where the food is.

    Some of the same principles can be applied to grazing. All native forage species evolved with grazing pressure. They all have mechanisms for dealing with this (it’s interesting; compare New Zealand species to US native species. New Zealand species did not evolve with any grazers). Native plants, left ungrazed become decadent, coarse, and leached of nutrients. Often the decaying plant material hosts fungus and bacteria that also attack the living plant. Burning and/or grazing off the top plant material is what the plant expects to have happen. It responds with a flush of new growth and abundance of biomass. This flush includes seed production.

    Preventing timber and prairie fires, and then preventing grazing and careful logging as well, is unnatural to the ecosystem and quite frankly irresponsible management. It is well documented fact. You are free to hate me for it if you first do your own research first.

    If you choose to be a vegetarian, that’s fine, but know more often than not cattle graze where we cannot grow veggies, thus providing a human food source from lands that would not otherwise provide vegetables. Also, look at where most of the feedlots are located. They are near vegetable and grain producing areas. The largest part of the feedlot diet is waste vegetable matter from processing plants (beet pulp, cull potatoes, potato peels, cull vegetables, cotton seed, soybean waste, etc.). Marginal to poor grain is fed too as well as some good grain that could be used for human consumption directly. The grain portion of the diet is usually about 1 – 2 % of their body weight. For a 1000 pound steer that equates to 10 lbs/day as part of their ration. Other than the grain, isn’t it the more responsible thing to do to provide a food source for people by using land that cannot grow crops? Is it not the responsible thing to do to use waste products of crops when we are trying to feed an ever growing and hungry population? Even if you choose a vegetarian diet, if we can make food available that way, is that not good for the majority? What I am stating about cattle production is not the exception. Most places operate this way because waste is cheap to feed or free if you haul it away.

    I currently run the ranching operation for a large family farm. We mostly utilize crop residue after weaning our own calves and to feed our cows in the winter. We produce much food (beef) as a by product of our farming operation(veggies, beets, mint, wheat, canola, sunflowers). I’m sure in some way that equates to a little less starvation somewhere.

    As for food costs, I’m referring to your veggies too. A vegetarian diet is not immune to higher food costs. You see the average herd size in the US is about 40 cows. Mostly, farmers keep a few cows around to clean up their crops and fields (crop residue). The more pressure and regulation you put on farmers/ranchers the more your food is going to cost. It’s all intertwined.

    It’s perplexing to me how so many vegetarians are wolf advocates when the wolf is the farthest thing from being vegetarian. Seriously, I’m baffled, in your mind why is it OK for a wolf to hunt down and kill animals, often in painful ways, and not OK for people to eat meat from humanely killed stock raised for that purpose? I mean I can understand if you choose to be vegetarian, but why the hypocrisy between wolf and people diets?

    You said it yourself, “Whether or not the alleged baiting incident reported in High Country News (12/24/07) actually occurred.” If no one is sure, it is totally irresponsible to conduct conversation as though it is truth. That goes for any subject. Using your logic, if you think a rancher might be willing to do this for publicity does it not stand to reason that a wolf advocate might do the same? Anti-hunting groups have. So is this really legitimate? Too often those trying to promote their agenda report gossip in hopes that gossip will be repeated and appear to become fact if enough people say it. Read Hitler’s “Mein Kompf” He addresses telling lies often enough and loud enough to the point they are perceived as truth. It was his most trusted technique. It’s a common technique all parties utilize.

    Chris H.
    You ask for a rendition of what happens to livestock from ranch to plate. OK
    In most scenarios the cow/calf producer sells his/her calves after 6 – 8 months and they weigh about 550 – 650 pounds. They are most often purchased by a “stocker” who puts them out on grass pasture until they weigh about 900 – 1000 lbs.(We turn ours out on crop waste). From there they are often purchased by a feed yard and fed for 90 – 120 days to a weight of about 1100 – 1200 lbs. (Most feed is crop byproducts). After that a packer purchases them. They are ushered into a packing plant where they are confined for a clear shot to the head. I believe most packers still use a bolt gun. A bolt or wide, sharpened spike is quickly and immediately driven into the skull at the precise point. I use a 30-06 to do my own. The idea is to instantly make them brain dead, so they feel no pain, but to allow the heart to keep beating. A beating heart pumps out the blood when the throat is cut and the carcass hung upside down. Chris, it is no secret and it is quick and humane. It also behooves all of us to handle our livestock as quietly, stress free, and carefully as possible. Stressed cattle produce what are called “red cutters”. When an animal undergoes stress the meat turns dark red and goes for hamburger, losing most of it’s value. Hamburger is of little financial value. You see those producers not driven by ethics are inspired by profits. It is most profitable to be as calm and humane with your stock throughout their whole lives as you can. Are there some bad examples, sure? But you know, they are pretty much run out of business quickly. That whole process is much different than a bawling calf being dragged around by it’s intestines as the mother cow bawls after it trying to figure out how the coyotes, 12 feet away, are still hurting her calf. By the way I lost two calves this year to coyotes. We have wolves on the place too but haven’t had trouble with them. A couple calves I can figure as the cost of doing business, but how many should I have to sacrifice? What number is a realistic number that would make me a responsible neighbor to the wolves, coyotes, mountain lion, and bears? I’ll tell you when you see any of these predators feeding on an animal that is still alive and later find yourself being stalked ( I don’t have room here to tell you about my experiences) by them (mountain lions, bears, and coyotes in my cases) you think of predators a little differently. You really start fearing for your children and the other kids in the area. Another legitimate question is: How many people should we sacrifice for the introduction of wolves? Really, there is a risk and cost analysis for everything we do. How many people are too many when we start losing people and what should we do when kids start getting killed? We loose kids to mountain lions and bears. Soon it will be wolves as well. Don’t tell me wolves don’t attack people either. A predator is a predator. It is going to seek the best meal for the least amount of personal risk. They don’t go, “Oh, that’s a person, they are off limits. Darn.”

    To All:
    The biggest nemesis to wildlife and ranching is urban sprawl. We should be working together to protect open lands. Cattle can and do enhance grazing forage species. It’s been proven by environmental organizations not just ranching orgs.. Our open space provides the habitat wildlife need. Ranchers are not the wildlife villains you portray. We have provided habitat for hundreds of years and wildlife has thrived because of it not in spite of it. We love seeing the wildlife and all of us readily suffer losses to our hay and cattle because we live with wildlife not against it, but we cannot accept gross losses. If we are forced to, we will simply sell our lands to developers and move into the cities. Then, we will probably be neighbors! I’d like to be able to afford a big screen TV and have weekends off. Maybe I could afford a plumber, electrician and maybe someone to work on my yard too. Maybe I could even go back to college. Hey this is sounding good. Just kidding, mostly. But really, please, take your passion and do your own research. The truth is out there, but you need to uncover it for yourselves. Coming second hand it will always have a biased slant. That is just human nature.

    P.S. As ranchers we make little money. Figured per hour it is less than minimum wage. Most of us do it because we love what we do. The typical scenario is one spouse runs the ranch and the other works in town for monthly cash needs and benefits. The cash the cattle brings goes back into the ranch. The profits realized are found in land appreciation and equity which cannot be realized unless the land is sold or you borrow against that equity. A ranch typically makes a profit one year in seven. From that profit all debt has to be paid. The payments go out post taxes.

    i.e. lets say you lost $200,000 the last five years. Now you find yourself with $500,000 this year. You can keep $300,000, pay $200,000 in taxes. Out of that you have to pay off your debts. and pay off your debts leaving you with $100K.

    Or you can buy $100,000 in equipment (expenses), pay $100,000 in taxess, keep $100,000 for future expenses, and pay off you debts.

    We are often left with the choice of investing in newer equipment as expenses or giving a hugh amount as taxes. Thus, we often are seen in newer pickups giving the appearances of being wealthy. Believe me, it is just appearances. It is the way the tax structure is designed to keep us spending money. Cash flow always stimulates the economy. Tax revenues are produced when money changes hands.

    In 1990 the University of Montana inherited the Bandy ranch. Thousands of acres and 300 head of cattle. The only debt was one $300 tractor payment. Once the lands reverted to state ownership there was no tax bill to deal with. The best the University could do is a $12,000 profit.
    One full-time employee and one student/summer employee.

  21. Heather Avatar

    “i.e. lets say you lost $200,000 the last five years. Now you find yourself with $500,000 this year. You can keep $300,000, pay $200,000 in taxes. Out of that you have to pay off your debts. and pay off your debts leaving you with $100K. ”

    Scott: I make about $20,000 a year. The kind of money your talking about blows my mind. (i.e., $100,000k) I realize if my circumstance were similar to your financial circumstance, perhaps I would be a bit miffed. But right now I make 20,000. So, I can’t really sympathize…

  22. Catbestland Avatar


    There is no greater displacement of resources for the resulting energy output than the beef industry. It’s not just OK for a wolf to hunt down and kill and animal, it is what it was designed to do. And the result for the species that is being hunted by the wolf is the honing of it’s evolutionary process. The species will be better off for it.

    I don’t believe that you even suggest that stock grown for food is humanely killed. You are apparently unaware of the horror that an animal is subjected to in the industrialized slaughter process. The transportation and holding facilities are the most frightening and injurious existance that can ever be experienced by any creature. Often resulting in broken and crushed limbs that are suffered, untreated, for days or even weeks before the end comes. As we have recently seen, those that cannot stand for imspection are routinely tortured to their feet so that they will pass. And the kill is not always quick either. What an animal suffers during predation cannot compare to the horrors of industrialized slaughter.

    That land that you claim shoud be used to feed cows because it will not grow vegitables, should instead be used to feed the wildlife that evolved to within that ecosystem. Cows are ruining it. That land may will never mean a little less starvation somewhere because those that are starving can NEVER afford to buy the beef that is grown on it. What type of food is donated to countries that are suffering from mass starvation? Beef? I think not. It is always grains of some sort.

    The ONLY ones that profit from beef production are beef producers. Everything and everyone else suffers for it.

  23. Frank Avatar

    Cats, you are mistaken on a couple of points.
    I think for displacement of energy, the most wastful might be the much touted ethinol programs now so in vogue. It takes 1000 gallos of water to grow the grain to make 1 gallon of fuel. Also, we are already seeing higher food prices due to the loss of farmland to fuel crops. Corn in particular We could replace grains for fuel with any number of already available bio mass. Chamisa, which is the predominant plant of the California chapparal and the pinion and juniper that now is so pervasige in the west. If only the special intrests would allow it.
    As to slaughter houses. The statement that some of these animals suffer for days and weeks is entirely false. Federal inspectors are on site daily. They simply would not allow that to happen. I think the facility you refer to is the one on the news of late. It is located in Chino Ca. In my youth I hauled cattle into that plant.That place deals exclusivly in dairy culls. They produce low grade ground meat for the U.S. govt. and for other low end contracts. The cows that cannot stand. are called “Downers” in the trade and are supposed to be sent on to rendering plants, for use as byproducts. This practice is most assuradly not industry wide and those responsable now face severe penaltys from the Feds and from the state of California, where animal crulty is taken very seriously.
    The reason beef is not sent as food aid is two fold. One. The cost of shipping beef across the globe would not allow it. the cost to butcher, wrap, ship and refrigerate would be immense and in most cases refrigeration is not available at the end destination. Grains weigh less require no refrigeration and have a long shelf life
    Second. despite years of effort by any number of groups to teach third world people how to produce food, the effort is largly failed. When livestock of any sort is sent on the hoof, it is cause for a huge party. Breeding stock is killed at once and eaten, so great is the craving for meat protein.
    Cats, I do not think you a vegitarian. I think you are perhaps more on the order of a militant vegan, but I could be wrong, it happens. You say it is OK for a wolf to hunt and kill but it is wrong for us. Are we not a part ot the process? are we somehow seprate from it? One has but to examine the dentition we have evolved with to see that we are omnivores, not unlike the bear.
    Heather; I think Scott was just making an easy example. Most ranchers net about 30k per year. An aside here; On that 30k they manage to do all the things that familys need to do, as well as being some of the most consistant charatable givers, among the lowest users of govt. services and are among the highest in percapita collage grads. How? Planning, hard work and thrift. We can all take a lesson there I think.
    Scott: Nice post, you are far better at articulation than I. I would very much like to talk with you about things we are doing on our little outfit.

  24. Frank Avatar

    You are wrong on a couple of points. Cattle at slaughter houses are left to suffer for “days and even weeks before the end comes” (wiping eyes) Federal inspectors are on site daily, it simply would not and is not allowed. It would also prove unprofitable, those cows would have to be rendered for byproducts. The facility you are refering to I think, is the one in tne news of late. That plant is in Chino California and deals entirely in dairy culls. They produce low grade ground beef for Govt. contracts and some fast food joints. I would call it barely beef. In my younger days I hauled into that plant from the dairys. Animals that are severly injured or cannot stand are called “downers” in the trade and are suitable only for byproducts. The workers at the plant knew that the inspector was at the plant at a fixed hour for a fixed time every day. They took advantage of that. Management at that plant was fully aware of the situation. As a result Federal and State charges have been brought and California takes animal cruelty very seriously. I would guess that outfit will be wiped out, and thats fine. As to the reason grains are shiiped to starving nations. Beef weighs alot! That coupled with the fact that to butcher, wrap, freeze and refrigerate in transit would make costs astronomical. Also in most cases refrigeration is nonexistant at the end destination. Its just to expencive to ship meat. Grain is cheaper, lighter, needs no refrigeration and has a long shelf life. Despite efforts by many well meaning groups and Govts. over many decades. Shipping any kind of livestock on the hoof has been an abject failure. If such a shipment should arrive, it is cause for a party! The breeding stock is killed and eaten. So great is the craving for animal protien.

  25. Frank Avatar

    I think the much touted ethinol programs my in fact be far more wastful than beef production. It takes 1000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of fueland as you well know food prices are already higher In part due to the fact that farmers are switching to corn crops to take advantage of this windfall. Short lived though it may be. Oddly we have in place now more than biomass to serve us for many years. The chamisa that is the predomenant plant of the California chapparal and the pinion and juniper that so pervades the west. By using this resourse we would eliminate much of the fire danger in Californias hills and curb the invasive P/J in the west. The envromaniacs would never allow it though. Its to simple and makes to much sence.

  26. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’d think almost everyone has figured out that corn ethanol is a horrible boondoggle.

  27. Catbestland Avatar


    Thank you for making my argument for me. The type of slaughterhouse scene you describe is exactly my point. Industrialized slaughter is horrifically cruel. This is not the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last.

    And the fact that grain is cheaper to send to starving countries IS exactly my point. The fact is that you can feed a lot more people on any given number of acres with vegitables and grain than you can on that same acreage used to produce cattle.

    Speaking of water. It takes 3430 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of steak. That is inexcusable.

    And I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to get rid of all the chaparel in the west either. Research has shown that it has promise as an effective cancer treatment. Native Americans have always known this. The points you say I am wrong on, you yourself make the argument that I am right.

  28. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    Here in Germany the bad news is, the Gouvernment had to withdraw a law that prescribed mixing in 10% of Ethanol fuel to the gas instead of hitherto 5%. This would have left about 3 1/2 million cars unable to use this fuel. The good news is, we would not have been able to produce a significant proportion of this bio mass here at home! You can imagine what happens to the last remaining rain forrests when these countries see their business opportunities!

  29. Frank Avatar

    Cats, Given your replies. I am going to hazared a guess. Could it be that you are in fact not a vegitarian, but a highly militant vegan? Just a guess. Also, I wouldnt think of getting rid of the chaparel, even if it could be done. But you could harvest it .

    SCOTT ; Splended post. I would very much like to speak w/you regarding the work we are doing here on our little outfit.

  30. Catbestland Avatar


    How does recognizing the horrors of industrialized slaughter and understanding that more people can be fed by grains and vegetables on a preacribed piece of land, than by cattle, make me “highly militant”????

  31. Layton Avatar

    Seems to me that Scott pretty much answered, point by point, a LOT of the old, hackneyed “cows destroy the land” arguments.

    I really wish I had the education he obviously has, AND the ability to speak to the “perceived” problems from some of the folks here. Working for a range crew for the USFS the last 5 years has gived me the practical knowledge, but not the ability to express it as Scott has.

    Way to go Scott!!


  32. Layton Avatar

    “gived me” ??

    Wow, I said I didn’t have the ability to express myself well!!


  33. Frank Avatar

    Layton, Scott does vay better than this rural western bumpkin! So dont be worried about your abilitys, its a big club.

  34. Frank Avatar

    Cats I didnt say you were I just asked . Ya did see that question mark didnt ya?? Even if more people could be fed on grains. The fact is that the vast majority of the people in the world prefer meat. Given the choice most people will take a hunk of dead cow over Tofu and millet. You seem to know alot about science, far more than I. You mention evolutonary processes alot. Are we not part of that same evolution? are we somehow seperate from it? One need only look to to our highly evolved dentition to see that we are omnivores. Not unlike the bear. So its ok for a wolf to kill to eat, but we need to eat rabbit food?

  35. Maska Avatar

    Scott, please re-read my post. I don’t believe I engaged in any “gossip,” but merely pointed out that the motivation, IF the alleged incident occurred as reported, was the certainty that the wolf in question would be removed, and NOT “gaining public goodwill.” The description of what would happen (and did happen, as a matter of fact) under the terms of SOP 13.0 is an accurate one.

  36. Catbestland Avatar


    Our dentition does not make us a carnivor. Look at the Mountain Gorilla. It has a set of canines that averabe 2 inches long. Yet it is strictly a vegetarian.

    And, I did not say that humans don’t have the right to eat meat. Of course they do. What I said is that industrialized slaughter is very cruel. And that more people can be fed by vegetables and grains than by cattle. So don’t try to tell me (as Scott did) that the beef industry contributes to the feeding of the poor and starving.

  37. Catbestland Avatar

    edit, average not averabe

  38. Frank Avatar

    Cats, I cannot think of a single industry, be it ag or heavy industry that dosnt have moral holes in it. As the top dog on the planet we are just on a long learning curve. events like those in Chino make reforms happen. I didnt say carnivores I said omnivore. That is to say if we can grub it out, pluck it off, smash it or catch it and kill it we can eat it. As to contributions by the beef industry to the staving millions, Im fair certian Scott will adress that.

  39. Frank Avatar

    IF you go to you might get a better idea of the “baiting” incident. When you do you might start thinking about “Due process denied”

  40. Frank Avatar

    Greetings all,
    Another calf kill in the Gila. I guess the “Middle Fork” pack, a pack with a long established territory way back in the Gila moved camp. It seems that the Alpha Female of the pack of 7 had a broken/healed hind leg, the leg was usless. So the wolf team, with their infinite wisdom, darted her, drugged her and packed her of to the vet. The pack began to circle out looking for her. Three weeks later the AF was returned and the pack continued to circle out. They ran onto a ranch, where, for the last couple weeks they have been dining on veal alfresco. However, there had been no confirmed kills and hence no compensation up till now 3/7/08. Seems there hadnt been enough left to verify a wolf kill. The standards of the Defenders of Wildlife are very high ya know.
    So with the wolf teams intervention we get a pack of wolves that had been no problem turned into a problem. Both the AM and AF of the pack were wild born. They had an established territory where they had welped 4 litters. Now they are becoming fearless and habituated and will teach the pups fearlessness. In all probiblity they will be removed peicemeal. This is the emmotional, Disney style agenda driven management we have come to expect. and ya wonder why we is so pissy? What happened to the “Let nature take its course ” bit?

  41. Catbestland Avatar


    Were they on public land?

  42. Frank Avatar

    Cats, The pack has been hanging around for a couple of weeks so I would guess that the rancher was keeping momma cows and calves as close as he can, I would. But deeded land or not, this is a management issue. The reason the nothern wolves were able to do so well is that they were ALL wild to wild transplants of pure wolves into the vast Yellowstone country, where nobody lives. Here, wolves are never futher than six miles from people that live in the Gila, and not all of those are ranchers. The reintroduction plan was poorly devised and is managed in a pretty shoddy way.

  43. C. Walton Avatar
    C. Walton

    “Here, wolves are never futher than six miles from people that live in the Gila, and not all of those are ranchers”

    That is a sad commentary on the state of ‘wilderness’ in the southwest. The area in question is some of the wildest country we have in these two states and yet a native species like the mexican wolf can’t find a place without being surrounded by livestock or people.

    I ask, what good is wilderness if the needs and wants of ranchers are put ahead of the needs of a species on the brink of extinction in the wild?

    Or are we to believe that all areas in our states that aren’t already paved over should exist for raising livestock?

    “The reintroduction plan was poorly devised and is managed in a pretty shoddy way”

    Yeah, you’re right, the current plan caters too much the ranching culture and their ingrained hatred of wolves.

  44. Frank Avatar

    Only a part of the Gila National Forest is “Wilderness” The rest is dotted with Ranches, small towns, residential subdivisions, schools, churches, vacation homes and the like. In short, there are a fair number of people here. Most lived here before the wolf reintroduction. The reintroduction plan WAS poorly thought out. As evidenced by the fact that now the wolf study group wants to enlarge the study area. Why didnt they call for a larger area in the first place? Further these wolfs are hybredized and habituated. Not pure wolves at all. Tell me what will happen, and most of the experts think it will, when these hybred dogs of the south mingle with the northern packs? Is that good management? I dont know where you are. but I dare say your opinions might change if you had to put up with wolves on a daily basis. As to ranchers, yeah I know, we are evil. But who else will take any proactive steps for wild lands? the Forest Circus? they wont take care of what they have. The Nature Conspericy? No, they are just land pimps. Without, the rancher and the logger the forests are dying and burning. In recent congressional hearing the most ardent “green ” senators said again and again that the forests are dying. A direct line can be drawn from the beginning of the clinton admin to the present, as fires become more intense. Why? to much fuel, less logging and less grazing. Also think on this. Without the ranchers in the woods, you have far less in the way of diversity. Animals of all kinds need water. It is the rancher who provides it. Also water is needed to fight fires. If the rancher has no ability to use the land, why should he bear the burden of maintaining the wells and tanks? Who will? the FS? They never have. The same goes for loggers, they cut the majority of the roads. Not the FS. If the logger cant log why maintain the roads? will the FS? they never have. So we end up with a heavy fuel load because we havent thinned it. and so a hot hot fire is the result. We have no water in the forest to fight the fire with and no roads to acess the fire. Thats management!

  45. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Frank, You said:

    “Further these wolfs are hybredized and habituated. Not pure wolves at all.”

    “Without, the rancher and the logger the forests are dying and burning.”

    “Without the ranchers in the woods, you have far less in the way of diversity. Animals of all kinds need water. It is the rancher who provides it.”

    Can you back any of these statements up with any scientific evidence. And please don’t reference articles you read in “Range” magazine.

    I’m curious how wolves, grizzlies, elk, deer, trees, grasslands, etc…. were able to survive and thrive in the SW before the region was graced with cattle ranchers and loggers. Can enlighten me with more of your riveting opinions and observations.

    Oh, and I love the old fall back “Blame Clinton” reference.

  46. Frank Avatar

    I didnt “Blame” clinton, I was only trying to establish a time line. As to how all those animals survived and yes thrived in the time before cattlemen and loggers. The indians that lived here used very effective management tools. They burned the country off whenever it becae to thick (about every thirty to fourty years), This kept the bottom of the food chain healthy, thus keeping the top of the food chain healthy. Also by this burning they kept greedy invasive trees such as Juniper and ceder in check. In so doing they kept surface waters running.
    This is no longer the case and hasnt been for since the first Roosevlt admin. Oh sorry didnt mean to blame TR. Lets say 1900 or so. Over time the forests have been protected to death. healthy forest carries between 30 to 70 trees per acre, with thirty to 40 feet between canopys. you have a mix of older trees younger trees, seedlings with grassland parks between. With lots of “edges” animals love edges. and enough surface water to support diverse life. If you care to see a perfect example of this you need only visit the Mescalero Apache reservation near Ruidoso N.M. or the White Mtn. Apache reservation in Az. The Apache do not need to put up with the silly EPA or ESA and dont really care what anyone else thinks. They just do what works.
    Our forest “managers” have allowed our forests to become decadant overgrown monocultures. With fuel loads up to five hundred times the norm. Now, our Govt. never has and never will expend the time and treasure it would require to clean up the forest. Loggers and cattle are the only viable way to do it. Or, as I am sure you would prefer. We can let “wild nature” do it. One need only look at the mountians that have burned that way. to see that in many cases the heat from the intense fire has “glassed” the ground. The ground will not absorb water, it runs off into water sheds ruining them with ash silt. I would submit that it just hasnt got to be that way. Cattle and logging can and should be used as managment tools. I am doing it here on our little outfit, the positive results in just five years are staggering. Im just about doing what works.

  47. izabelam Avatar

    as some point you said:
    Predators are opportunists and are going to seek the easiest prey which promotes the least amount of risk to themselves. It has always been this way and always will be. As wolf populations increase (as mountain lion pops. have) It is only a matter of time before the prey is people (as the case with lions and bears).

    Well, I noticed that most accidents happens when we took over the existing habitat where mountain lions used to hunt and breed (good example Trabucco Canyon in CA).
    Bears attack when we, people, act stupid and think we can approach little ‘teddy bear’. We live food in camp areas open for the bear to have easy meal.
    And of course the animals will go for the easy food. I would to.
    I think spreading the fear of wolves killing kids and people is not right if we dont’ want to talk about dogs killing people.
    Lets look at some statistics: how many people were mauled or killed by wolves, bears ,mountain lions versus dogs?
    And think about the reasons: humans as food? or humans as stupid tourist, photographers, not so smart hikers..Have you seen pictures of tourist kicked by a buffalo or a moose or an elk).
    I am not worrying about the wolf attack. I am worrying about the guy who has a gun and I tell him ..I love the wolves

  48. izabelam Avatar

    We live food – we leave food.

  49. Frank Avatar

    Trabucco is just over the Ortegas from our old outfit in Riverside county. The lion issue is more than people moving into the bush. There has been no lion hunting in California for more than twenty years. They have pretty much eaten up their prey base. dont see many deer in the hills there anymore, we used to see bunches of fifteen or so all the time. California has more lion than any western state. If you ever get to downtown Riverside, find the Mission Inn. Across the street is the Riverside county Museum. Inside to the left you will see a map of lion densitys in diffrent areas of California, Its kinda thick around Trabucco.

  50. Frank Avatar

    Time flies. I was wrong on the figure. There has been no lion hunting in California in 36 years

  51. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Frank, I think more accurately the +/- 10 year drought in the west, which has been good to the pine beetle but hard on the trees, and the fact that past logging practices primarily harvested larger diameter trees, accounts for the lousy condition of our western forests. Only recently has harvesting of smaller diameter trees become a management tool. Now, with the dry condition of these forests, these thick patches of small diameter trees are great tinder. The result, we now have these devastating, extremely hot wildfires. Of course, as you probably know, our western forests evolved with fire. With proper thinning of these smaller trees along with using fire as a tool we can once again get our forests to a healthier state.

    As a whole cattle ranching provides zero benefits to our public lands. You may be able to minimize the damage done but the sacred cow has no business roaming this primarily dry western landscape.

    Now about the Mexican Gray Wolf being a hybrid (with what)?

  52. Frank Avatar

    To be sure, the drought has been good for the bettle. but forest density is also a major factor. The beetle invades sickly trees. I have been using the method suggested by the local ag. advisor. First get more water to the trees. As I have no control over rainfall and I cant pack water to the forest. I prune off the bottom 8 feet of growth. this gives the trees more water by lightening the trees water requirement. Then thinning the understory, this gets more sunlight to the forest floor and eliminates ladder fuels in the event of fire. I notice you suggest thinning. Who is going to do that? What agency is involed in any but a token way? I couldnt think of one either. Cows do a fine job of it.
    I also try to remove trees to the point of 50 trees per acre. As opposed to the current 5 to 7 hundred trees per acre This puts canopys farther apart. Mr. Bettle it seems is a clumsy flier and his flights average less than thirty feet. That really dosnt bother him though when he can step from tree to tree.
    Past logging practices were a problem as were past grazing practices. Both industries have come leaps and bounds in the last 50 years.” The dry western landscape” is a term far to broad I think. That would imply that the whole of the west is a desert. Here in the Gila, when looking at the water situation, we find that most of the streams that were year round have gone to weak seasonal flows and that seasonal streams have dried up. The reasons for this seem to be that the over growth sucks up the water before it can penetrate very deep and that as more people have tapped into undergroud water, the water table has dropped. Also the substrate here (the Gila) is such that it is higly fractured so that as opposed to having an actual aquifer, you have a “Fault water” situation. So that when drilling, if you miss the water by an inch, you miss it. In AZ. there have been projects conducted wherein the over growth of Juniper and Ceder was largly removed and streams long dry have come back to life, with all resultant benifits. When the Membres and then Apache were here the place was not nearly as dry.
    But I return to my point. Who is going to do all this needed thinning? Thinning, might I add, that unless done on a large scale basis and soon will not save the forests. The Govt. Will not. “Conservation” groups do not, unless a photo opp is in the offing. I submit that large grazers do.
    As to the wolf hybred. we have pictures of speckled “wolf” pups and of “wolves” with dropped ears, that would suggest dogs. Also wolves are known to breed with coyotes. As to what we have here, que sabe? The USFWS has done genetic testing on “Wolves” taken in the Gila but as yet I have not heard of any results being released.

  53. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    I was aware that there was a litter of pups removed a few years ago because they had characteristic markings of dogs resulting from cross breeding. But you cannot imply that all Mexican Gray Wolves in the Gila/Blue are hybrids. There is absolutely no proof of this.

    I am still puzzled by your assertion that cattle grazing helps thin trees. Do cattle forage on small pines?

    There are private companies that harvest small diameter trees. In fact there is one operating in Showlow, AZ (can’t recall the name). I believe they produce wood pellets.

    These type of companies can concentrate their efforts where the forests and rural communities border one another. This at least would minimize the potential for fire damage to these rural communities and also help restore some health to the forest. Fire could be used to clean out the thick stuff deeper in the forest. Instead of the Forest Service wasting money building roads and subsidizing timber harvests and cattle grazing (money losing ventures for taxpayers) they can focus on forest rehabilitation.

  54. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There is excellent genetic tracking of these wolves, and that is possible because their numbers are so few and their founder genetics so well known.

  55. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    True. I believe the genetic make-up comes from only 3 distinct lineages. The cross-breeding referenced in my comment above occured a few years ago in New Mexico with the litter being removed from the wild. That is the only case of hybridization I am aware of in regard to Mexican Gray Wolves. There are people who believe that the remaining wolves that were captured in Mexico a few decades ago, and bred to begin the recovery program, were not genetically pure wolves. But I believe the research says otherwise.

  56. jimbob Avatar

    Sorry Scott, though you make some great points, your assumptions are based mostly on responsible ranching and care of the land. You act like irresponsible ranching is done by a fraction of ranchers. If only this was true! You also don’t mention, like several people have pointed out, the harm done to predators which causes irrepairable harm to the ecosystem, and the harm to wetlands and riparian areas. Maybe all of your best-case scenarios work in the best areas of Montana and Wyoming, but Arizona in good years is usually like the worst years in those two states. Cattle and/or sheep are simply not compatible with arid lands. There never were bison in Arizona, so there is nobody to blame for the ruination but cattle ranchers.

  57. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Another bullshit article on wolf reintroduction in NM. However this one is out of the Taos/Anglefire region of the state.

    A few of the usual quotes from the chickenshit adult popualtion scapegoating the safety of “the kids” as usual:

    John King, a local rancher and member of New Mexico Cattle Growers, stated the county cannot let the federal government and environmentalists “overrun our lives” and the production of food.

    “There needs to be concern for the safety of kids,” King said.


    “The federal government needs to look at what it is doing to people in rural areas,” Ricklefs stated. He also mentioned that he knows of dogs and horses that were killed by wolves and children that were chased.

  58. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Jeez…..for all the chasing and following of kids wolves do, they never seem to catch any. However they seem to have success with the much heavier and faster elk, deer, and occasional horse. Hard to explain.

  59. Frank Avatar

    Cattle will do quite well on shrubs , the eat mountian mahogony, scrub oak and any number of other shrubs, not just grass. simply by moving through the thick parts of the bush they rub against trees, knocking off lower dead ladder fuels, mostly they leave the pine saplings alone. by getting the dead and crowded growth gone they give those saplings a chance. As to the harvesting of small diameter trees. We have one of those outfits here. Gila Woodnet. Nice bunch of govt subsidised guys. It is run as a non profit. The biggest problem for them is developing a market . Thier yard is full of stuff they cant quicky sell .truthfully , they dont make a dent in the Gila let alone the larger problem . We are talking about forests Nation wide. Once we had 12 small family owned mills here. They were shut down by decree in the 80s. Now the FS says they cant give the logs away. Well, there are no operating mills. And as to JIMBOBS comment about cattle not being compatable with arid lands. Somebody better inform the Quivera Coalition (read that TNC) they are running cattle as a managment tool down on the border on the very arid Grey Ranch and on the other huge property they own on the other side of
    the line. Also Jimbob irresponsable ranchers ARE the exception. Think about it. Would you destroy the very source of your livlihood! No, you would do everthing in your power to enhance it and thus enhance your income. Since ranching has been thriving in the Southwest for generations I would say that it works. And what about the Masi people of Africa? who have grazed the arid plains of Africa for thousands of years. At least until they were made eco-refugees by the TNC and WWF.
    As to this BS that YOU are subsidising cattle growers on Federal land .According to the GAO Govt. Accounting office. Recreation generates 355 million for the FS. Logging generates 290 million and grazing generates 66million. So it looks to me like. logging and grazing generate 356 million dollars.
    Before I forget we have pictures of what the Game Dept described as “wolf like creatures” shot in 2006. They look like a cross between a collie? and wolf?. The DGF took DNA samples. We are still waiting on published results.

  60. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Sorry Frank, I don’t think running cattle thru the woods is a viable or ecologically sound way to manage a forest or any landscape for that matter. In general the forest service created their own problem by allowing timber companies to harvest a majority of the mature trees once these trees were gone the timber companies left Dodge. So now we are left with the problem of dense secondary growth. Small scale logging is fine as long as it is sustainable but reintroducing fire is the key to the long term health of the forestlands in the southwest (the entire west).

  61. Frank Avatar

    Jeff , In order to reintroduce fire as a viable tool it must be low intensity fire. fire that burns through the forest with low heat and low flame height. Fact: The forests nation wide are DYING! Whatever the reason, be it loggers of a century ago or grazing of times past. We are dealing in the now! The present. In order to reintroduce fire without Hiroshima like results. The thinning must be done first. Who is going to do it? I am doing what I can, on deeded land. And honestly, I wont get this place entirely healthy before my pins give out. Who then is going to thin the forests? Jeff, I dont know where you reside. But you can get hold of the Holistic Range Management org. or take up the generous offer made by any number of ranches to go and actually SEE how well cattle can be used as a managment tool. Or you could go into an actual wilderness area. Not to be confused with the National Forest. and see for yourself that wilderness areas are largly devoid of animals . due to lack of food and water. The animals are at the edges of the forest where the food and water is. The old elk hunters dictum is “Hunt where the cows have been.” The cows eat off the coarse dead grasses and the elk follow for the tender shoots and forbes. There would be less diversity in the National forest without the rancher. Why? the rancher is the one who developed the warter! with out water you have no animals. And the last thing I want to see as a hunter is the type of hunting that is becoming so prevalent today. Pay to hunt operations are an abomination to me. hunting on private land for a fee. We all deserve the freedom of the hills. But if all the animals gravitate to private land…….
    Jeff Im sorry. I dont see your desires or mine as being mutually exclusive. Catistropic fires do not need to happen, game shorages dont need to happen. healthy forests can be created. I am no sceientist. One need only read my posts to see that. I am just an observer. I see what works because Im on the ground. daily. The Forest Circus cant say the same thing. In fact when Im in the bush the last thing I ever expect to see is the FS. All the real foresters have retired out or quit in disgust. Our new forest supervisor here. The guy in charge, the big cheese, the stud duck. His former Job with the FS? A public information officer. Im tellin ya I just gotta laugh. We have a propagandist in charge of management. As for all his minions, They pretty much stay on the road.

  62. C. Walton Avatar
    C. Walton

    Frank said,
    “Only a part of the Gila National Forest is “Wilderness” The rest is dotted with Ranches, small towns, residential subdivisions, schools, churches, vacation homes and the like.”

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I was using the term in a general sense, not in the sense of an officially designated piece of land. These areas are some of the most undeveloped and relatively intact habitats that we have in either of these two states. Furthermore, large parts of the area ARE designated wilderness areas. There are the Gila Wilderness, Aldo Leopold Wilderness, Blue Range Wilderness, Bear Wallow Wilderness, Mount Baldy Wilderness, Escudilla Wilderness, and Blue Range Primitive Area.
    I believe that it would be wrong for ranchers, who make up perhaps 1% of the population, to dictate what happens on public lands, whether they be wilderness areas or national forests.

    “In short, there are a fair number of people here. Most lived here before the wolf reintroduction.”

    I was born and have lived in the White Mountains all my life and I think you are exaggerating the number of people who live in this area. I have travelled all over the country and I have to say that this is one of the least populated areas of this size I have seen. The area has few roads or communities when compared to most other areas in Arizona or New Mexico.
    By the way, I too have lived here before the wolf was returned, does my opinion not count? The scoping meeting I went to in McNary this past November was surprising. I had hoped to talk with some anti-wolf people but only a couple showed up. Most of the people who showed up were supportive of the wolf reitroduction. In fact, polls in New Mexico have shown a majority of citizens support the reintroduction of the wolf. Statewide 62% favor, 22% oppose. Locally, in the four affected rural counties, 50% favor, 30% oppose.

    “The reintroduction plan WAS poorly thought out. As evidenced by the fact that now the wolf study group wants to enlarge the study area. Why didnt they call for a larger area in the first place?”

    That is why they called it an “adaptive management plan”, this gives them the ability to change things that aren’t working. When you do your ranching do you just make one plan and then act on that same plan for the next 10 years? I highly doubt it. As to why they didn’t create a larger recovery area in the first place, well that is due to the strong opposition they recieved from ranching orginizations.
    They caved to the pressure from these groups, and designated a smaller area to placate them.

    “Further these wolfs are hybredized and habituated. Not pure wolves at all.”

    This is laughably absurd. Many tests have been done on these wolves and they have been shown to be pure mexican wolves. They even know the genetic makeup of each wolf they release. You see, there are three bloodlines that all mexican wolves alive today descend from. To maintain genetic diversity they keep track of the lineage of each wolf.

    You do know that there are thousands of wolf-dog hybrids out there that are kept as pets? People might see an animal like this and assume that it is one of the wild wolves.

    Your claim above reminds me of the inane comments from wolf-haters in the Northern Rockies (like the guys from, who like to claim that the reintroduced wolves are “mutant” or “arctic wolves”. Ridiculous.

    Curiously, you never hear wolf-haters around here making a big deal out of the fact that the elk we have in the state are not the native Merriam’s elk that were originally here. The native elk were all killed off by the same shortsightedness that killed off the wolf, and elk had to be brought in from Yellowstone. But, hey, don’t expect a zealot to be consistent.

    “Tell me what will happen, and most of the experts think it will, when these hybred dogs of the south mingle with the northern packs? Is that good management?”

    They aren’t hybrid dogs, so your question has no relevance.

    “I dont know where you are. but I dare say your opinions might change if you had to put up with wolves on a daily basis.”

    If you choose to live or work in a certain environment, you are choosing to deal with the hazards particular to that environment. People who live in cities have to deal with the hazards of traffic and crime. We who live in more rural or wild areas have our own set of hazards to be aware of.

    Where I live, we have to worry about our pets being killed by coyotes, bears, mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, rattle snakes…hell, even javelina and coatimundi can kill a dog. I also have to accept the fact that I may have a collision with a deer or elk and possibly be killed (an average of 200 people die each year in collisions with deer alone). All of these things go with the territory.

    “As to ranchers, yeah I know, we are evil.”

    I don’t think ranchers are inherently evil. I have several friends who are ranchers and there are some who are pretty reasonable. But I do think that a great number of ranchers are willfully ignorant on many ecological issues. The wolf issue being a current example.

    “But who else will take any proactive steps for wild lands? the Forest Circus? they wont take care of what they have. The Nature Conspericy? No, they are just land pimps.”

    Who is doing more to attempt to bring balance to our forests? Who is working to return native animals like the black-footed ferret and mexican wolf? I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t the ranchers.
    Most ranchers’ idea of taking care of wildlands is to make them more convenient for ranching. I was recently talking with a rancher who admitted to me that he really couldn’t care less if the prairie dog went extinct. And you want us to believe that the rancher is the true savior of the wilds?

    “Without, the rancher and the logger the forests are dying and burning.”

    I know a lot of you rancher types believe that, but the facts just don’t support it. The damage that both logging and ranching has done to the environment is well documented. That said, there are ways to do these activities which are less damaging to the environment. Unfortunately, it seems most loggers and ranchers are unwilling to significantly change the way they do things.

    Besides, it isn’t as if ranching and logging are dead. But I don’t see the forest being improved in areas where ranching is prevalent. I see the same problems as I do in areas without ranching (tree die-off, etc), along with a whole bunch of other problems.

    “In recent congressional hearing the most ardent “green ” senators said again and again that the forests are dying. A direct line can be drawn from the beginning of the clinton admin to the present, as fires become more intense. Why? to much fuel, less logging and less grazing.”

    Anybody who spends time in these forrests can see that they are facing hard times. A lack of natural fire regimes certainly does play a role but that is hardly the whole story.
    Studies have shown that the ongoing drought has significantly affected the ability of trees to produce the sap that protects them from bark beetle damage.

    Also, according to a report by the National Resources Defense Organization and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, Arizona has warmed by 2.2 degrees between 2003 and 2007, while the globe as a whole warmed by only about 1 degree fahrenheit. Whether the cause of this warming is anthropogenic (man-caused) or part of a natural cyclical process is irrelevant. It HAS happened and has certainly been a contributing factor to the tree die-off and catastrophic wilfires.

    I know you think ranchers and loggers are the saviors of all that’s good in the world, but pretending that these things don’t get taken care of unless loggers or ranchers do it is simply absurd. My grandfather, uncle, dad, and several other members of my family have all worked in the forest on tree thinning contracts. The Forest Service has been thinning the forest for years. If it is done right it is a very good way to remove thickets of small diameter trees and improve understory vegetation and overall forest health.

    Thinning is very different than commercial logging. Loggers want the big trees and are motivated to get as much volume of quality lumber out of the forest as possible. This means large clear cuts and the cutting of the biggest and healthiest trees. This is why, despite the scarcity of old-growth forest, loggers are determined to cut all that is left (and they simply have no understanding of what a loss that would be). Thinners, on the other hand, are paid to remove the unhealthy and small crowded trees according to scientifically sound ecological principles.

    I believe controlled burns also have their place, although they shouldn’t be overutilized. Natural low-intensity fires historically burned through the understory perhaps every 5 or 10 years in a given area, we should aim to replicate that. Controlled burns also need to be managed carefully since they can cause damage to the soil.

    “As to how all those animals survived and yes thrived in the time before cattlemen and loggers. The indians that lived here used very effective management tools. They burned the country off whenever it becae to thick (about every thirty to fourty years), This kept the bottom of the food chain healthy, thus keeping the top of the food chain healthy.”

    Yes, but what about before the native americans came here? People like you can’t seem to grasp the concept that the natural world was in balance before humans ever showed up. This is why so many anti-wolf people make ridiculous claims like “the wolves are going to decimate elk and deer populations”. What?! When have you ever heard of a predator species decimating a principal prey species?

    Long before the prey species numbers could become decimated the predators numbers would have lowered proportionally. For an example, study boom-bust cycles of hare and lynx populations. When hare populations drop so do populations of the lynx.

    Wolves were found throughout the continent, from coast to coast, in very high numbers and what did the first Europeans who came here find? Decimated elk, deer, bison, and pronghorn herds? Hardly. They found flourishing populations of all these animals.

    “Also by this burning they kept greedy invasive trees such as Juniper and ceder in check.”

    We don’t have any species of cedar in North America. Junipers are in the cypress family, as are cedars, but true cedars are only found in the old world. I often see people calling junipers “cedars”, but that’s a mistake. Anyway, junipers are not “greedy invasive trees”, they are trees like any other tree–they grow where the conditions are suitable for them, nothing more, nothing less.

    “Would you destroy the very source of your livlihood! No, you would do everthing in your power to enhance it and thus enhance your income.”

    Yes, but you would enhance it to suit your business needs, not the needs of anyone else. If the prairie dog gets in the way, exterminate it! If the wolf makes things a little bit harder for you, destroy it! Don’t want them damn eagles around, they might kill a calf–shoot it! This version of “enhancing” the wilderness is very one-sided, not to mention shortsighted.

    Furthermore, on public lands, the motivation to care for the land is reduced. No single individual rancher owns the public lands he grazes on and he won’t necessarily be able to keep grazing any one area indefinitely. The tendency will be to want to maximize short term profits and conveniences even at the cost of long-term sustainability. This is called the “tragedy of the commons” and has resulted in the overfishing of fisheries all over the world. According to your theory those fishermen should not have destroyed the fisheries that they benifited from. But they did and they continue to do so all over the world.

    Ranchers calling for the extermination of the wolf shows a clear unwillingness to learn from past mistakes.

  63. Frank Avatar

    Mr. Walton,
    WE will have to agree to disagree on any number of points but you articulate yours very well.
    The figures you quoted for approval/disaproval are interesting. If considrably diffrent than the ones I read in an Journal Albuquerque poll of a couple of years ago. Perhaps things have changed. However We can say the every county in N.M. is in opposition to the way the program is against the way the program is being run. As evidenced by the ruling of the “New Mexico coalition of counties” just three or four days ago. By the Ruling of the Otero county board to oppose proposed wolf release in that county. And similar rulings unfavorable to the wolf, by Catron, Grant, Luna and Hidalgo counties. Also the White Mtn Apache? or one of the Apache tribes in AZ has asked for the wolfs removal from tribal lands repeatedly. And the solid opposition of the Mescalero Apache here. Im not to awful worried about the Apache situation. If they really get tired of the Lobo, they will just deal with it.
    The ranchers have acted with tremendous restraint. Trust me if the people that live in the Gila desired the wolfs extermination. Extermination it would be and with some dispach.

    The reason you see so few anti wolf people at meetings is that they tend to be held during the week, during working hours and most often closer to the urban support base of the prowolf faction. Is this by design? Couldnt tell ya , but with fuel prices and all it does make it difficult for rural people to attend.

  64. Maska Avatar

    “The reason you see so few anti wolf people at meetings is that they tend to be held during the week, during working hours and most often closer to the urban support base of the prowolf faction. Is this by design? Couldnt tell ya , but with fuel prices and all it does make it difficult for rural people to attend.”

    Locations of Mexican Wolf Adaptive Management Work Group (MWAMWG) public meetings since January 2004:

    (In addition to the meetings below, the USFWS held a dozen scoping meetings to gather public input for a proposed change to the final rule governing the Mexican wolf reintroduction. Those took place in late November and early December, 2007, in locations ranging from Flagstaff and Phoenix, AZ, and Albuquerque, NM, to such places as Alpine, AZ, and Glenwood, NM.)

    Jan. 30, 2008, Pinetop, AZ
    Apr. 21, 2007, Bayard, NM
    Jan. 27, 2007, Apache Gold Resort, AZ
    – July 21, 2006, Reserve, NM
    – Apr. 21, 2006, Pinetop, AZ
    – Jan. 27, 2006, Silver City, NM
    – Jan. 26, 2006, Thatcher, AZ
    – Oct. 14, 2005, Glenwood, NM
    – Oct. 14, 2005, Morenci, AZ
    – June 30, 2005, Morenci, AZ
    – June 29, 2005, Alpine, AZ
    – June 29, 2005, Hon-Dah, AZ
    – June 28, 2005, Phoenix, AZ
    – June 18, 2005, Albuquerque, NM
    – June 17, 2005, Truth or Consequences, NM
    – June 16, 2005, Bayard, NM
    – June 15, 2005, Reserve, NM
    – Jan. 29, 2005, Phoenix, AZ
    – Jan. 28, 2005, Alpine, AZ
    – Jan. 27, 2005, Glenwood, NM
    – Jan. 26, 2005, Truth or Consequences, NM
    – Oct. 15, 2004, Springerville, AZ
    – July 9, 2004, Bayard, NM
    – Apr. 23, 2004, Morenci, AZ
    – Jan. 30, 2004, Socorro, NM

    Of the locations listed above, the following are in one of the five counties comprising the Mexican wolf recovery area:

    Alpine, Morenci, and Springerville, as well as Bayard, Glenwood, Reserve, Silver City, and Truth or Consequences, NM, are in the five couties of the recovery area. In addition, Socorro, NM, and Pinetop and Thatcher, AZ, are in counties adjacent to the recovery area counties (as are the Hon Dah resort and the little village of McNary, on the Fort Apache Reservation–by location, if not by jurisdiction).

    Every one of the locations named in the previous paragraph is considerably closer to anyone living in the recovery area than it is to the large metropolitan areas of New Mexico or Arizona. If there is any intention of preventing participation by local folks, it is not evidenced by meeting locations.

    Regarding the times of the meetings, they used to be held on Friday afternoons, but a year or so ago, the Adaptive Management Oversight Committee, responding to suggestions primarily from the local contingent, began experimenting with different days of the week and different times. The upcoming meeting in Safford, AZ, for example, will be from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., rather than during the day, as will planned meetings in Morenci, AZ in July, and Silver City, NM, in October.

    Interestingly enough, many of the MWAMWG meetings I’ve attended have had quite a good turnout of local folks of all persuasions. Perhaps the McNary meeting wasn’t so well attended due to the large number of other scoping meetings, including one in Alpine the following day. I believe both of those meetings were in the evening, by the way, as were all the weekday scoping meetings.

    Finally, the cost of fuel cuts both ways. Citizens who live farther from those meeting locations listed above, including those in urban areas, actually have to fork over considerably more gas (or diesel) money to attend most of these meetings than those living in the five counties of the recovery area.

  65. jimbob Avatar

    Frank, your argument is well-stated and consistent, but I have to point out one thing; Just because they run cattle in arid lands doesn’t justify that it is viable, sustainable, and most importantly doesn’t make it harmless to the local wildlife and ecosystems. It usually is VERY detrimental to the local wildlife.

  66. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.


    I’ve been in many wilderness areas over the years and not just here in the Southwest. I’ve been to all but one of the areas that C. Walton mentioned in his post. The reason I go to these areas is to see wildlife…and I see quite a bit of it: elk, deer, javelina, coyote, bear, bobcat, turkey, grouse, porcupine, birds of prey, apace trout, never have seen a lobo but I have heard them howl and seen their tracks etc…

    Your claim that cattle ranching enhances diversity because of the water tanks created by ranchers is……to be polite……interesting.

    I’d have to say, and it’s pretty well documented, that ranching on public lands has lessened diversity (examples: Southwestern Grizzly, Mex. Wolf, Jaguar). How does a cow trampling, pissing,and shitting in a mountain stream enhance diversity? Sorry Frank cattle are a blight not a benefit to our western public lands.

  67. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    here is a quote from the weekly wolf pack location telemetry flights of March 8 2008, as posted on
    “Note: As requested by the White Mountain Apache and San Carlos Apache tribes, the Project does not post or otherwise provide to the public any wolf location information for the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the San Carlos Apache Reservation.”
    Now why do you thing that is?

  68. Frank Avatar

    Maska, yeah, thats a heap o meetings and the one in Safford coming up on the 22. its from 6 to 9 like ya said.
    Jeff, who do you think puts the water in the forest? the FS? The DFG? (aside from the few quail gusslers?) No. Its pretty much the ranchers, at their own expence.
    AS to why the apache dont publish wolf information? ask an apache.
    I have to go, wify and I are in a debate of our own. my little chain saw kissed me on the knee. I say a couple butterfly closures and a beer , she says stiches. One thing we both agree on. Those pants are ruined.. lolo see ya

  69. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    I thought snow, rain, springs, streams, put water in the forest. I had no idea ranchers did all that. On behalf of all the forest critters…Thanks Frank.

  70. Frank Avatar

    Jeff When it rains the gods put it there. When it snows the gods put it there. As stated in past posts, Springs and streams? Well yeah, mostly dry one. The forest critters neendnt thank me. I get my thinks seeing them slake thier collective thirsts at my tanks.

  71. Frank Avatar

    Jeff Oh yeah,
    And in pretty much snowless winters like this one . Its still cold enough to freeze any and all surface water. Who is out in the woods chopping ice on a daily basis? Not the FS. Certianly not you. That would be me and guys like me. We call it stewardship, husbandry. You can call it what you like

  72. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t know about the southwest, but in Idaho when a livestock producer, the BLM or Forest Service engages in water development projects “for livestock and wildlife,” they usually take an area of seeps that support a beautiful stand of tress bushes, and grass, and tiny pools of clear water. They bulldoze it out to turn it into a pond.

    The pond is quickly stagnant and scum-filled. Then come the cows who camp on it and turn it into several acres of mud and cowshit which wlildlife will not approach. Any rainwater or snowmelt collected only provides water for cows and the springs usually stop running.

  73. Frank Avatar

    That is absolutly true! It can be done in far better ways. Here most tanks go dry over the course of the year. sometimes a couple of times. Here. most permanant waters are above ground, well fed affairs. Cows do camp on water if allowed. Just like buffalo. The kind of grazing we invision here involves some coyboyin’ actually herding cattle. Moving them to water, allow them to drink and move them off. Use them in the forest as weedeaters and brush hogs. Move cattle into an overgrown area, hold them there long enough to acheve what the holistic range management folks refer to as “animal effect” and move them out. This is seldom very hard because in such areas the feed is pretty sparce. And we are not talking about a huge number of cattle either. For instance, I have a pretty clear lane all around Our deeded land. Clear as far as dence woody plants. The lane runs right to the FS fenceand is 20’+ – wide.
    To do that work by hand would have taken, a month? (I’m just one guy) By holding the cattle (14 head) off of salt for a month, then walking the proposed lane with a hudson sprayer of salt water and spraying the bush, then turning the cows on it. They had the whole thing eaten down stomped down shit on and lookin like hell in about 8 days. We are now a year on from that. That lane is some of the most well grassed on our whole place. We have a workable firebreak, good grass and it was painless!

  74. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Well Frank I hope it is done that way. In much of Idaho a lot of folks use the “Christopher Columbus method” of livestock management — turn them out in the late spring and discover them again in the fall. Any missing must have been eaten by wolves.

  75. Frank Avatar

    The laize faire method of grazing is becoming less and less workable,be it on federal or private land. There are still those that do it, but there are a whole new crop of cowmen comin up. A much smaller class unfortunatly. The restrictions on cattle numbers and the reduction in the time allowed on any given allotment make it much harder to control the cattle and come gathering time it takes much longer just to find them. Its really hard to get kids to go into agriculture now. It looks to much like work. I sudder to think what happens, say thirty years hence when the bulk of our food is produced off shore. The same people that can leverage oil will be able to do it with food. Local production, the localler the gooder, should really become an issue. As to predation, its always a problem, ya know that goin in. Bear can take down anything to yearling size, lion can take down anything and wolves and coyotes do a number on calves. This is why to my way of thinking if you are to be a cowman you need to be a gambler and you need to be in the feild, takin care o busness. Monitering the grass utilization, the condition of the waters, the general health and whereabouts of cattle and to be watching for predation. Thats the job. Now, havin said that a good number of the things mentioned above need to be done by the FS for the health of the forest. They need to be “ridin herd” on the trees. But one need only look at the forest to see that they do most of thier work off of computer models and dont spend much time in the woods.

  76. C. Walton Avatar
    C. Walton


    Unfortunately, from what I have seen, ranchers here in Arizona seem to follow the same modus operandi.

  77. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Frank – It sounds to me like you may be the exception to the rule when it come to cattle ranching. If that is the case I applaud your efforts and mean no disrespect. I hope your incident with the chainsaw was minor and I hope you enjoyed that beer.

    Just curious…you mentioned a snowless winter in your locale. I believe you said you are from Gila country. Here on the Blue side of the Gila we had abundant snowfall. What happened in NM?

  78. Frank Avatar

    Boys, The saw just gave the knee a little smooch. Thanks to Carharts very fine canvas Breeches.

    Jeff; I am in the southern end of the Gila, the very Southern tip at 6500′. I looked longingly to the white in the North.
    I am no exception. I didnt think this stuff up. The very fine post by Scott shows that. Alot of it comes from old cowmen. If you are up in the
    Sprigerville country you might stop in to the Phamacy there and ask for the book “Through The Smoke” You wont agree with all of it, But it shows what can be done. I would gladly send you mine, but it was taken from my hand by Dr. Tuggle at a meeting last year in Silver City.

  79. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    I just came across this story today. Although the Clovis, NM area isn’t in the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Zone(has more in common with west Texas) it does highlight some of the wonderful livestock carcass disposal methods of some of the finer cattle ranchers in NM, the great keepers/nurturers of all wild lands here in the west. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this practice is commonplace for most of the dry of southern NM including the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Area.

  80. Frank Avatar

    Interesting article Jeff. Those are dairy cows . Although I hate to admit a personal bias, dairymen are not cattlemen in my humble estimation. Dairymen are hugely subsidized and are doing quite well. The reason they dump carcasses on the road is simple greed. They dont care to pay for the cost of removal. Most dairys have several dead cattle a day. They just dont care to pay the bill.
    Ranchers have a diffrent issue. We are not in a penned controled situation. The Cattle ranchers work with are not the dull witted, slow moving, bulbous uddered milk machines of the dairy. They are cagey, fleet o foot, can hide out in the woods or crawl through bunch grass like a deer. Alot of times you dont even know they are gone.
    Dont be so cynical Jeff. We help feed your helpless wolves. With our help the DFG dosnt have to kill as many elk to keep em goin.

  81. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Interesting comment Frank. Cattlemen are not conservationists, for the most part. Cattlemen in the west that graze their cattle on AMERICA’S public lands are hugely subsidized. The reason they dump cows on the AMERICA’S public lands is a simple-minded attitude that they have some sort of RIGHT to graze when in reality it’s a PRIVILEGE. They don’t have enough private land to graze their cows. The cattle that ranchers work with, compared to wildlife, are dull witted, slow moving, introduced exotics that should not be on the arid lands of the mountainous west. They are not cagey, fleet o’ foot, cannot hide out in the woods or jump over fences. A lot of times cattlemen don’t even know they are gone because they don’t check on them. Don’t be so cynical Ralph. We help feed your stinking cattle with AMERICA’S grass by subsidizing welfare ranchers.

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  82. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Correction: “Don’t be so cynical FRANK.”

    Sorry, Ralph. 🙂

  83. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Frank – If welfare ranchers like you would operate more like dairy farmers and keep your livestock penned up on private property maybe you wouldn’t have to worry so much about your cagey/stealth cattle being eaten by wolves. Maybe you’d benefit from better livestock husbandry methods. But we all know that you’d be out of business if you had to be a self reliant cattle producer. You need to feed at the government handout trough in order to make a living at the expense of our public lands and its wildlife.

  84. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Jeff N., you are right on target ~ the jugular. Well said.

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  85. Frank Avatar

    Welfare ranchers? Jeff, our little outfit is a deeded one. Which is not to say that if i couldnt aquire an allotment that I wouldnt. As for predation by wolf lion or bear. We put up with it knowing that a certian amount is inevitable. As to that “gumment” hand out trough. Actually Jeff, its paid for. Now if you dont like the law, change the law. We would like to see it changed to a more equitable system. Not a blanket price for grazing, but a graduated scale depending on locale and conditions.

  86. Frank Avatar

    Cattle do jump fences, hide in the woods, crawl out from under you and might I add, turn and fight most wildly if they are so inclined. You call them “exotics” ok they are not in your vision of a “pure” world but wild cattle roam parts of the west still today. Couldnt be to awful slow witted. And pelase enlighten me as to the ranchers huge subsidy? I would like to have even a small share of the subsidies and grants available to TNC, DoW, CBD and the like. Again, fees are paid by ranchers. Are the fees to low? in some places yes. In some places they are to high and in some places the gumment should pay the rancher to be there. If you dont like the law, change it.

  87. Scott Miller Avatar

    By the attitudes and aggression displayed by most here, it is apparent that nothing I could say or show you would change your minds about ranchers.

    How about a little logic? Us dreaded ranchers live and work in wild and semi-wild land 24/7 no if’s ands or buts. We have to take care of the land to have a viable business to pass to the next generation. We have to keep it healthy and productive year after year. Productive to us means healthy vegetation, stable plant communities, and plant communities producing high biomass of palatable forage (see healthy plant communities). While we are doing this wildlife benefits from productive and nutritious forage as well. Predators benefit from the ungulates benefitting from our rangeland. Cows can and do contribute to healthy rangelands. If you disagree you are not doing enough research. There are many scientific reasons why and obviously most of you are not reading the research. If you want to poo-poo me, then do me a favor. Ignore the rhetoric of others who espouse the same mantra as yourself, as well, and go do your own research and reading. Read real collegiate studies and then draw your own conclusions. Obviously I am biased, so go do your own homework. If you want to listen to an environmentalist say it, see what the Nature Conservancy is doing with cattle to improve rangelands and enhance forgare for deer and elk. Don’t take my word for it, do the research yourself. If you do enough reading of scientific journals and research you will find it hard to disagree with me. Are there some bad operators out there, sure. There are bad apples in every industry. You name it and I will find examples of poor managment. Every industry including the environmental industry. Rest assured that the ranchers and loggers who have a cut and run attitude are the minority and will not be around much longer. If you want to look at the ranching industry as a business entity only; The overgrazers are on the decline due to economics of their own making. The profit margins of running cattle are small. Overgrazing is simply not profitable. If you disagree, again do a little reasearch on “The economics of cattle ranching.”

    If (as a rancher) your interpretation of maximizing profit means grazing every sprig of grass out there and trampling riparian areas, then you are close to your last year of operation. There are still a few around, but not for much longer. Can “Tragedy of the Commons” ; Good read by the way, encourage poor land managment? Sure. It encourages bad actions from industry and encourages gross mismangment from the preservationist angle by the same pattern. This is the reason why I advocate personal property rights. However, this concept doesn’t really apply to the leases of public land since, usually, they are long term leases and usually awarded to the same ranch over and over due to the processing criteria. Thus, it is in the ranchers best interest to use them wisely. Take a large private timber land owner here in OR, LandVest. They lease their grazing at a break-even rate. Why, because they have proven that if one entity is responsible for the land, the grazing of the land, and damage to that land, then that leasee will treat it as there own and actually police it for LandVest. It’s like having more employees of their own out there but not have to pay for them. How do I know. Worked for them, in Oregon, as a regional manager, was part of the decision making process to expand the program to other regions for these very reasons. Why would a private corporation lease the land for grazing at a loss or break even if it did not benefit them in other ways? Because it does, ecoolgically. We had third-party environmental audits to pass. We proved this worked and received much credit for it in passing our audits.

    Natural systems are always in flux. If we, as humans, insist on keeping nature constant. That, in itself is unnatural.

    I’m off on a tangent now. Let me explain two reasons why, as a wolf lover, you should hug a rancher. One: We keep the land in big blocks of undeveloped land. If you force us out of business (that is the underlying current I sense) we will sell our land off in ten acre ranchettes and go live the easy life. Ranchettes support about as much wildlife as a college campus or a subdivision does. Our money is in the equity of the land and land has appreciated incredibly the last 20 years. Two: As I mentioned, we are out there 24/7. We see all the wildlife species, often. Wolves are moving into Oregon where I live (fringe of the Eagle Cap Wilderness) I have seen them. I’ve watched the USFWS chase them with helicopters across our land and into our cattle (our deeded land). When wolves come onto our place I know the area they come from and where they are going to. They follow a pattern as is common with most predators. I am not unique. Most ranchers are observant. I guarantee 90% of the ranchers who operate where wolves roam know the wolves patterns. Now, if other ranchers or myself did not want the wolves around, — they would not be. We are all proficient with many means of removing them. You need to understand, without a doubt, this would be easy, and we choose to live with the wolf. Most, by far and large most, in fact, every rancher I know chooses to do their best to live with the wolves. It is not for fear of the law as I am sure some of you will say. We are out there before the USFWS gets out of bed, we are out there on weekends and holidays, government agencies need permission to even go on our private land, etc. So, we could if we chose, do away with them. They are present because we are at heart animal lovers and conservationists. You believe we are heartless animal haters because someone wants you to believe that, constantly shows you worst case examples to convince you of that (the few bad apples), and you don’t take the time to find the truth for yourselves. “Tell a lie over and over again and it becomes truth.” — Hitler “Mein Kompf” Why do they do this? Because you support them financially and politically when they do.

    As for water developments in arid lands. It is well documented that water developments in arid lands benefits wildlife. Even if it does get turned into a muck hole. Water pumped up from a windmill, collected in a rain cistern, or piped miles to a stock tank concentrates water in a usable form in a place that is was not available before and wildlife does benefit from it greatly. A very well documented fact.

    “Refuse to educate yourself and you become a tool for someone else.”

    Educate yourselves. Discover what ranchers really stand for. Then, create constructive dialog. Resort to name calling and lawsuits and we are going to sell off our land into ten acre ranchettes. Then we will actually have the money most of you think we have.

    Myself, I wish the wolf would stay away. We already have to watch our children and watch over our shoulders for mountain lions and bears. I have been stalked by both, multiple times. I personally know people in Minnesota who have been stalked by wolves. Large predators are mostly a danger to the kids. If you don’t believe that, you are in denial. Adding wolves to the mix does not thrill me. I don’t live in fear of being attacked. Not any more than I do of being struck by lightening. It is real, it is fair to be concerned, and it is not fear mongering. We see three or four attacks a year from mountain lions in the west. Usually on children because they are smaller. To me, the death of one child is not worth reintroducing wolves. It is easy to advocate for wolves if you live in town and it is not your kids at risk. Remember your support of wolf reintroduction the first time a wolf pack kills a child. It is going to happen. It is just a matter of time. At that moment picture me saying, “Shame on you.”

    When I worked as a Wilderness Ranger in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness, we rarely had a problem with Grizzlies. The summer/fall of 1989 all Griz hunting was suspended. By 1991 the bears had learned not to fear people and would waltz right into your tent, with you (and a trail crew of 8) to see what you were having for dinner. This is the time you learn bear pepper spray, point blank in the face, is only an appreciated condiment to the bear. Anyway, my point being, is it is only a matter of time before any large predator looses it’s fear of people when not hunted ( Mt Lions in CA for example) and starts presenting a real and present danger. That is a fact.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Science, stats, and facts determine if that opinion has credibility. Emotion and feelings do not enhance debate. Emotional management always leads to disaster.

    Merry Christmas to all!

    Scott Miller (Ranch Manager and VP Union Co. Cattlemen)
    Union, OR

    Frank you mentioned you would like to converse:


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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