Black-tailed Prairie Dog


  1. jdubya Avatar

    Ha!! Was that klezmer music?? Not exactly an Annie Proulx soundtrack! Nice vid! Lightens the mood here a bit.

  2. kt Avatar

    Thank you, Brian.

    What a cool barking alarm call – kik, kik, kik like a mini-marmot!

    Does anyone have a List of all the things that Ken Salazar has been involved in during his career that have pushed the black-tailed prairie dog closer to extinction? How has Salazar aided and abetted this species persecution by ranchers? How do we get Obama (or Rahm Emanuel or whoever is calling the shots) to realize that Salazar’s Big Hat symbolizes four more years of death and destruction of the natural world in the West that Salazar’s oversize “dress” cowboy hat signals? What is the Chicago politician world equivalent of a forbidden symbol, or a symbol that says We Will Smash You.

    There was real symbolism yesterday,

    Just like there are obvious and well known symbols in the Civil Rights world that spark immediate gut reactions, in the environmental world of the American West, a cowboy hat represents continued “manifest destiny”, shooting things up, wasteful domination of the land and wildlife, deadly barbed wire, eroding streambanks choking trout streams.

    No one in Obama’s cabinet, I bet, would dare to wear some very obvious photographable symbol – Except for the requisite flag lapel pin. No over-sized peace symbols adorning anyone. Even in the Bush heydays we did not have over-size crosses dangling around the necks of Cabinet Secretaries – so why do we get a 10-gallon hat inside a Press conference room?

    Salazar’s Big Hat signals a continued WAR on the natural resources of the West. Western over-and-on-the-top — Cowboy Bling. When the public lands welfare ranchers tally less than 20,000 permit holders, many vast acreages now being beat to death by hobby ranchers (bling, bling, bling), foreign mines, Harry Reids favorites the Las Vegas and other water pirates (Southern Nevada Water Authority, Whittemore, etc.).

  3. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    There sure is a lot of importance being assigned to that cowboy hat. I guess that if he had shown up dressed from head to toe in Patagonia duds we would be able to determine that he is an eco-terrorist. You guys have lost it over a hat. Not the way to be taken seriously by our nations leadership.

  4. jdubya Avatar

    Were those prairie dogs wearing hats?? I missed that.

  5. Maska Avatar

    Mike, I don’t think it’s the hat (or boots), per se, that people are reacting to, but rather wearing the hat indoors in Washington, DC. I have both a cowboy hat and boots, which I wear when and where they are practical (e.g., when I’m outdoors, riding a horse, etc.).

    Generally, when a public figure makes a point of wearing something as fraught with symbolism as a cowboy hat at a major press conference, he’s probably sending a message of his own–in this case, that he’s part of the Old West, or at least, wants us to identify him with that world view. For a number of the folks posting here, that world view is problematic.

    As far as head-to-toe Patagonia is concerned, I’d have my doubts about anybody wearing a getup like that at the press conference announcing his or her appointment to a cabinet post, too. When in Rome….

  6. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Mike ever cause has to have a focal point to make the center piece of their frustrations..Guess it is the hat and the bolo tie this time….

  7. Barb Avatar

    Salazar’s “cowboy hat” represents a outdated ideology! A wasting of resources and a focus on special interest– namely, the CATTLE INDUSTRY!

    It is like an appointee from the South waving the Confederate Flag.

  8. kt Avatar

    No, Mike I don’t think we have lost it. Salazar’s record, topped off with the press conference symbolism of the hat, signals loud and clear that Obama, Emanuel, whoever either does not care about, or does not understand, the public lands of the West and the Cowboy Greed, Dominance and Exploitation mentality that is causing the collapse of whole ecosystems and the tragic extinction of species that once numbered in who knows – the hundreds of millions??? -like the priaire dog.

    It also signals a continuation of what COWBOY BUSH, for God’s sake, has done to these lands and wildlife. This isn’t a TV western. Things are serious, and four more years of anything short of a dramatic turn on how public lands are managed and viewed and understood will be another disaster.

    Here’s my bet: There will be some initial Flash and Fanfare of Rolling Back some Red Rock country leases, and after that a session or 2 of Salazar meeting with hunter group and hand-wringing over the sad state of Wyoming, but shucks Who Could Have Known. All that talk for years of Green groups and hunters/fishers allied with ranchers to fight Oil and Gas fizzled at a colossal scale. Plus a lot of the grazers are actually leasing Oil company owned lands -so oil and ranching are one i many areas. BUT I see Salazar building on such a colossal past failure, will propose empteen more of the same kind of effort – and industry will walk all over everybody in the End as four more years of talking, no applying of envtl laws and minimal Rolling Back all of the Bush admin and other changes, and NO real movement forward on a 21st century conservation effort for the public lands.

    That Press conference imagery also signals a continuation of the anti-science policies of the Bush admin on public lands so-embraced by the ranching aristocracy of the West.

    You don’t believe symbols are important? A flag pin, a cross, a swastika, a noose, an over-sized cowboy hat in a Big city press conference room, these are all symbols.

  9. Demarcated Landscapes Avatar

    Mike, you’ve got it wrong: the cowboy hat in fact indicates that he is a true eco-terrorist- in the sense that his values have imperiled species, ruined watersheds, degraded soils, created invasive species infestations, spread fire into new ecosystems, caused the violent destruction of millions of native predators, and on and on and on…. THAT IS WHY WE’RE WORRIED!

    It isn’t just the hat, either, it’s his record. Black-tailed prairie dogs are just one example.

  10. Barb Avatar

    I knew a real estate broker who was fired for wearing his black leather outfit into a closing. The managing principal said it was completely inappropriate and EMBARRASSING.

    Dress, manner, symbols count as they stand for things.

    What Salazar stands for is CATTLE FIRST. Hardly someone who is going to worry about native animals and habitat first.

  11. outsider Avatar

    Wow I didn’t realize that “Cow Boy” hats were so evil? I guess I had better start boycotting, Goerge Strait, Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesny, of the list goes on and and on, People its just a freeking hat, I would be far more concerned with whats under the dam thing, to make such a trivial item the centpieice of your dislike, well its just kinda silly and make you all look like a bunch of bigots. Grow up and and start adressing real issuse, give the man a chance before you crussifly him, he has yet to be swore in or make one descion as Sec of Inter.

  12. kim kaiser Avatar
    kim kaiser

    robert redford wear a hat sometime, gonna chastise him too,,!!

  13. kt Avatar

    outsider – That is the point. George Strait, Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney … the list goes on” are POSERS dressed up in a costume to make you part with your $18 per cd/dvd and make you think you ara patriotic God-fearing American.

    Salazar’s Big Hat at the Obama Press Conference is dressed up to say that the public lands will remain Open for Exploitation and Looting. To say that 20,000 welfare public land ranchers across the West will continue to cost us taxpayers at least 6 or 7 times as much just to administer permits, while their cattle and sheep cost society untold billions of dollars in losses (if water sustainability, lands free of weeds, lands naturally able to sequester carbon were rightfully valued). The public land commons remains Open for Sale and Looting.

  14. Jay Avatar

    I hope nobody tries to crussifly me…that’d smart!

  15. SAP Avatar

    kt – George Strait grew up ranching in Texas, so I can’t really agree that he is a “poser.” Kenny Chesney, for sure, but I’m not sure I’d call that beach-bum sombrero a “cowboy hat.”

    I appreciate this eye-opening discussion of the symbolism of Salazar’s hat. It’s certainly not a practical matter to wear that hat indoors in Chicago (I can tell you it’s a pain to wear a hat through airports, too), so I have to assume it’s something of a symbolic act.

    Bruce Babbitt never wore a cowboy hat at DOI . . . so is headgear or lack thereof a predictor of performance? Babbitt carried the wolf box in ’95 (another symbolic act), but I would argue that his NPS & USFWS did a pretty superficial job of figuring out how we would live with wolves back then — heavy focus on the photo op, not much on the details.

  16. Barb Avatar

    But you could hardly say that Robert Redford pummels and degrades the land, etc……….

    The “hat” is just symbolism; his IDEOLOGY is what’s wrong with him!

  17. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native

    Barb said:
    “But you could hardly say that Robert Redford pummels and degrades the land, etc………. ”

    Sundance Ski Resort……??????

    Redford owns this fine chunk of land, that was once National Forest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. SAP Avatar

    So the same hat on Bob Redford symbolizes something entirely different? If Salazar’s ideology is at issue, let’s stick to that instead of talking about his “big hat” (which is really not all that big — I’ve seen em way bigger).

    And shouldn’t we be mad at Redford for continuing to mythologize the cowboy (“Horse Whisperer,” “Electric Horseman”) as well as glorifying colonial predator killers (“Out of Africa”)?

  19. Barb Avatar

    Links please?

    It’s better than having oil wells on it —

    Our National Forest should not be SELLING land to anyone.

  20. Barb Avatar

    OK, I submit that you’ve made some good points.

    But honestly — I don’t think that RR has Wildlife Services killing native animals on the land!

    Grouping everyone together is doing a disservice to those who do care about protecting the land and the species that inhabit it.

  21. SAP Avatar

    Barb – I don’t know anything about Sundance acquiring USFS holdings — ski hills are often leased from the FS to the resorts, and they sometimes do actually deeded land swaps.

    Well, I agree that Redford is likely living relatively lightly on the land. There are many be-Stetsoned people out there who do the same. An obsessive, strident focus on the symbolism would seem to distract us from the real business at hand, while alienating those who share a cultural identity with Salazar.

    Whether the cultural identity is truly inseparable from an undesirable land ethic remains debatable. But I think it makes a lot more sense to focus on the land ethic, the practices, and the outcomes instead of raging against the symbols.

  22. Barb Avatar

    Yes, I absolutely agree that the history, practices and ethics of a person are more important than what they wear. My kids have worn bandanas to school and have been told to take them off because they represent “gangs.”

  23. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I might point out that as a horseman, I know that the wide-brimmed hat, sometimes referred to as the cowboy hat, is good at keeping rain and snow out of one’s eyes during infrequent but heavy rain and snow storms in the high country, and keeping the sun out of one’s eyes during the high country’s relentless and long summer days.

    Likewise, the silk scarf keeps one’s neck warm or cool, depending upon the temperature, and also keeps debris from falling down one’s neck.

    In short, let’s not get overwhelmed by the presence of symbols. It’s deeds, or the lack of them, that count. Leave the symbols to those who can’t think beyond them.


  24. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I wore my Cowboy hat during my whole time in the field with FWP and I continue to wear it most of the time when I am out and about, if not that, then I wear a baseball cap..I think many have put to much into the Cowboy hat..

    I can almost bet ya, he was wearing Cowboy boots as well!

  25. jdubya Avatar

    With all due respect, you guys are sure wasting a lot of bytes carrying on about hats and the rest of this. Enjoy the furry little animals and forget about the nomination. Time to look forward! Barring finding a passel of wetbacks, err, illegal aliens working on his ranch, Salazar has got the job, and bitching about his hat is a silly distraction.

    As Jim Baca , past BLM chief that got shit canned by ranching interests in the Clinton administration, said yesterday: “I think that Senator Salazar can rise to the occasion. Right now a moderate seems like a godsend for the Interior Department. The real meat here will lay in the selection of strong BLM and Fish and Wildlife Directors, and courageous Assistant Secretaries who wont be afraid of taking strong messages to the Secretary’s office and the White House.””

    Good advice and we should follow it by pushing Salazar to select people under him that would support our issues.

    BTW, if anybody has a nice warm felt 3 inch brim in a 6 7/8 let me know.

  26. Barb Avatar

    I do have a pair of designer “cowboy” boots, too, but I am certainly not a wolf hating rancher. Still, I realize buying leather I am supporting the industry, which isn’t good. I don’t wear fur though, as most fur bearing animals are killed JUST for their fur and I do not approve of the barbaric and cruels ways in which they kill these poor defenseless animals.

    We need to get tough with Wildlife Services and demand they stop using tax dollars to kill native wildlife on behalf of the cattle industry.

  27. Ron Kearns Avatar
    Ron Kearns

    Jdubya said:

    “Barring finding a passel of wetbacks, err, illegal aliens working on his ranch, Salazar has got the job…”


    You gave us of a ray of light…..

    Finally, Mr. Obama has 4 years to demonstrate his ability to govern and I am looking forward to voicing my praise and/or derision. That is all that anyone of us can do and we will fail our democracy if we do not voice our concerns and give accolades when deserved to whoever deserves either approval or denouncement, even Mr. Salazar.

  28. Jay Avatar

    I don’t have exact figures, but I’ve been told that upwards of 70-80% of Wildlife Disservices money is not taxpayer dollars, but contributions by the livestock industry (cattlemans and sheepmans associations, for instance) to continue their aerial onslaught to protect the little wooly maggots and range pigs.

  29. vicki Avatar

    Cowboy hats, wow. Well I think Salazar used it much like Palin used her glasses. He wants people to believe he is a blue collar working stiff gone government to do good deeds on behalf of average guys like him….she used glasses to look semi-intellegent. Neither would be very true in many folks’ estimation, but perhaps provides some with comfort.

    Honestly, if he wore boots or ballet slippers, I could give a hoot…as long as his hat doesn’t cloud his vision or effect his hearing.

  30. Salle Avatar

    Yesterday, in my confusion and disillusionment, I went out in a snowstorm to think and cool off. I went from a warm, safe place out into a windy, very cold, snowy place… and it was very unpleasant. (It was about -19F this morning if that helps you get a feel for how cold it was in the storm ~ single digits for certain!)

    But it also became a metaphor for this whole issue and our response to a new negative element of it.

    I came back inside because it wasn’t pleasant out there where the wind was blowing the snow into and uproar, blinding me and making it difficult to move onward, kind of like us here on this blog.

    It also showed me that being out in an uproar that was decidedly limiting and wasn’t all that productive since all I could think about was getting back inside. Although it did clear my head ~ when I go outside in a blizzard, I usually have decided not to come back in until I get over my negativity, an adult form of a “time out”.

    I had to come up with some kind of starting point. So I decided that I have to just be more diligent in educating my government, not just sending mad e-mails and such but actually preparing writings that are clear, informative and worthy of notice without all the emotional uproar.

    I’m tired of being upset over this, and I was by the time I came inside from the storm.

    I suggest that we all decide to channel our negative energy into a positive form of participation in our participatory government that we have… Squabbling amongst ourselves only weakens our argument and determination and credibility. I think that is how cheney/rove/w managed to have their way in some cases… divide and conquer, you know?

    I have a lot to read up on, I think I may be in the early stages of writing a new ESA for submission to the feds… I am a policy analyst ~ among other things that are helpful here so, if anyone has anything to offer in that way, let me know.

    I’m unemployed at present so I have time to do this sort of thing, I feel it’s becoming an obligation at this point in time. If the government can’t fix or restore the current ESA, I’ll have a new and improved version ready by March, maybe sooner.

  31. Phlogistician Avatar

    Note the different reactions between gay rights groups and the selection of bigot Rick Warren to the reactions of NRDC and Sierra Club and the selection of anti-environment Salazar. Quiet clapping from one; anger and outrage from the other.

    And guess which decision Obama is now back-pedaling. And guess which group will probably get even more access as a result.

  32. Mike Avatar

    Phlogistician you nailed it.

  33. kt Avatar

    Indeed Yes, Phlogisitician you are so right. I had the same thought after looking at the news and other Blogs today. Rick Warren symbolizes to millions of folks what Ken Salazar symbolizes to folks who care about western public lands and – essentially – the freedoms and values ecologically intact public lands represent.

    A comment just posted on the Wyoming Wolf Topic (Kim Kaiser) said that a previous post had Salazar fervently supporting predator poisons on public lands.

    Here is the previous post: What a horrible man. It is frightening, and a disgrace to have somebody like that become Interior Secretary.

    The poisons used to kill predators are really a Terror inflicted on wildlife, hikers and their dogs. As Demarcated Landscapes pointed out on the Topic of Salazar, that over-sized hat symbolizes Salazar’s such terror. Also Demarcated Landscapes has a Post succinctly explaining the symbolism:

  34. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    I am stunned by the ridiculous comments being made regarding this cowboy hat thing. One person likened it to the racism of the South, another claims a simple cowboy hat stands for the utter and complete destruction of all things natural and wild……

    Are these adults posting this simplistic garbage? Or have children run amok on this blog?

    What happened to the open, fair, and intelligent dialogue on this blog? When did this blog descend into this childish ranting and immature judgment of what a person wears?

  35. kt Avatar

    Ooops – I see it is John Salazar who actually worte the letter supporting poisons – Ken Salazar’s brother, I believe? Does anyone know if Ken and John are in ranching operations together?

  36. vickif Avatar


    I would love to hear what you are looking into. I am no analyst, but amidst all my disappointment yesterday and this morning, I decided I will look upon all this as a chance to show what I am made of….
    I am going to start writing, to anyone and everyone who qill listen. I am going to write to let them know what we all do here, on various levels.
    This morning, I took some photos which I will be trying to use constructively, of manure on the frozen Platte, and the eagles that nest above it. I am going to research how it has effected the fish there, etc. and send it on.

    My dad did some extensive research about twenty years ago, about damning the South Platte, and I am going to use that as a jumping off point to study more about the attempts to damn up the Poudre, and how the water purity, or lack of, effects animals and plants in the area of the Poudre.

    I am also going to take a ton of photos of pollutants in fast food, and cattle being grazed on public lands in the San Luis area.

    Eventually, maybe the info will gel into something meaningful.

    A friend of mine reminded me, we fix problems one at a time. Maybe Salazar will lessen our oil dependence. I’ll take it, for starters, but will try my darndest to make it happen as eco friendly as possible.

  37. outsider Avatar

    Amen Smoky, I kinda feel like were back in Jr. High, “Oh my god, can you believe what that tramp is wearing” I can’t wait for the decusion to morf into trashing my childhood hero the Lone Ranger, after all he had not only a cowboy hat but also a mask.

  38. Brian Ertz Avatar

    the cowboy myth has been used by political associations to exercise cultural dominance over natural resource management – including wildlife & public landscapes – control over vast expanses of land, political systems, and people. industry has invested PR resources into for decades. the cowboy, as pop-culture has understood his character for generations, never existed – it is a loaded caricature – a personification that shrouds the consequences of this closed system of political control and in the evocation of fraternity. the cowboy myth has been – and continues to be – used to undermine efforts at bringing awareness to conservation issues throughout the west.

    people who wear cowboy hats are not bad – nobody is saying that. people who wear cowboy hats indoors in front of cameras are doing so for a reason.

    the people on this thread who express distaste for the fact that Salazar would wear a shiny clean cowboy hat – indoors and purposefully placed – on his ‘cuff’ if you will – understand the consequences that this fraternal symbolism has brought to wildlife and public land management on the ground historically. those consequences have been real. you may remember the Republican National Convention this last year – these hats were distributed among convention-goers as they chanted “drill baby drill” – there are real associations drawn and they’re about extractive interests – there was no reason for salazar to wear the hat indoors except to throw a bone to that fraternal impulse. perhaps it was an innocent play at reaching across isles – or a play to show that he understands/sympathizes with western issues. if so – he’s got some idea about what the west is – the wrong idea, the myth – and him buying into that wrong idea does not bode well for wildlife and public land management.

    perhaps outsider & SmokyMtMan – that is too much to read into a thing a simplistic as a cowboy hat. “i mean – oh my gawd” – but don’t pretend like other people are being childish because you don’t understand that they know what they’re talking about.

  39. Salle Avatar

    Brian has just made some very valid points about the “myth of the west”. And I have to agree with them.

    When I was in grad school Ralph taught a seminar on the topic… it was very informative. I knew what it was but couldn’t put it into a sound articulation until then. Ralph didn’t place any of his opinions before us, he just gave us material to examine and come up with our own conclusions about the “thing” he was hoping we would notice. We had to identify it first, then we talked about it all semester.

    the hat on Salazar is all of what Brian articulated here, not just a pair of Jockey brand shorts, folks. It was definitely a signal, remember W’s presidential hat and boots that he wore to his first inauguration…


    nope, “all hat, boots and nothin’ in between” as most of the real cowboys I know said.

    The hat says more than a million words.

  40. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    After working in the West, with the exception of my time in the Military, the people who live here, been born and raised here, don’t believe it is a Myth, it is their life, and until such time as we can find a middle ground it will continue to be that way..

    Myth or no myth, it is truth to the 2nd and 3rd generation people that inhabit the area…now I don’t have the solution, I don’t know how to fix it, but until such time as we come up with a way to talk to each other, it is going to continue this way..

    In the mind of the Rancher, nobody has shown them how moderating their ways will benefit them, I have dealt with hundreds of those who are 2nd and 3rd generation and predominately, the question is “Why are they trying to tell me what to do, why do they want to change my life”

    You may not like it, it may be repugnant to you, but it is truth, it is fact and it is the way it is, until such time as we/you/me and the rest can figure out a way to TALK!

    As a wildlife biologist, I am 100% behind conservation, I have always worked for conservation and will continue to, in fact I lost my position with FWP because I would not “Cook the Books”

    But I know, unless we find a way to talk, both sides are in a losing battle and all we are going to have is hurt, accusation and hate.

  41. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Since the range wars of a century ago are merely taking place in another arena, “talking” is a waste of time. No one, including you, can show that any material benefit has come to conservation from talking with ranchers. I’ve heard all the empty talk I care to listen to.

    The livestock oligarchy is determined to hang on to its illegitimate powers and privileges over land use and wildlife, using whatever means necessary, regardless of what any one else thinks or says. To hell with these guys.


  42. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    As I said…

    I am not surprised at your attitude, as I am not surprise at theirs..

    So be it, I love those stiff arm types…

    Fruitless labor bears just that…..No Fruit.

  43. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And by the way, you have no idea what I could show you, after working in the system for so many years, you just might be surprised.

  44. Barb Avatar

    Roger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, wears a cowboy hat on certain occasions and for photo ops so he can relate better with ranchers.

    Defenders has, for a long time, trying to address the issues of the livestock’s continual strong arming of the legal and political system and those that protect wolves, as has Keystone Conservation (formerly Predator Conservation Alliance). They love to accuse environmentalists of lobbyists in the “east” when they have just as many or more lobbyists in DC protecting the cattle industry.

    I don’t know if it will ever be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction, but the fact is, ranches are being replaced by development as we speak and the super wealthy are buying up land to preserve it (such as Ted Turner). I doubt Turner or Robert Redford calls Wildlife Services to kill coyotes…. I think the longterm trend is in FAVOR of protecting native animals and their habitat.

    Maybe I’m super naive, but resorts and developments mayY not even notice predatory animals, but especially, without live “dinner” walking around (livestock) as “bait,” perhaps the problems will decrease?

    The fact is, cattle ranching is not a profitable enterprise like it used to and the trend is to get out of it, not the other way around.

  45. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I agree, I have worked tirelessly to get cattle off of public lands, I just happen to think, it is going to take time and both sides being pissed off at each other and throwing accusations around, does nothing to increase progress, we are actually seeing movement forward, albeit slowly and more slow that many would like…

    Your never going to get rid of it, until such time as the next generations are educated on the ills of public lands ranching, it took hundreds of years to entrench it, and unfortunately, you can’t change that mindset over night..

    Bill I will continue to the day I die to work on education to the ills of the practice.

  46. TC Avatar

    Another Hoskins missive that’s all bark and no bite. Yes, I can in fact show you more than a few on the ground situations where “talking” with ranchers has achieved: 1) private land taken out of grazing rotations to minimize disturbance to sage-grouse leks from February to June, 2) riparian restoration that has removed invasive plants, restored native riparian flora, and used strategic fencing to eliminate near-shore erosion and runoff from grazing, 3) removal of barrier fencing for pronghorn-friendly fencing to allow winter migration corridors to be re-esbalished locally, and 4) seeding of treatment pastures with native grasses and resting these treatments from grazing for the benefit of native wildlife (at personal expense). And these are just a few of the examples where someone, at some time, “talking” to ranchers had a positive outcome on wildlife conservation. Save bears is right – progress is slow, but it is steady, and with another new generation coming along, now is not the time to throw in the towel and dismiss all agriculture as the dark side.

  47. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I think I have a standing challenge to TC from another thread on this blog for a public debate on bighorn sheep. Perhaps we can add to that challenge a debate about the “value” of “talking” to ranchers to achieve wildlife conservation–we can discuss, bears, wolves, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, sagegrouse, wild horses, damaged soils, damaged riparian areas, overgrazing, elk feedgrounds, predator control, retaliation against agency biologists by cowardly administrators, constant lying, and, of course, the many undeserved financial subsidies that go to ranchers, with no end in sight for the demand for even more subsidies.

    Reminds me of a quotation from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac: “When the landowner is asked to do some good for the community, he does so only with outstretched palm.”

    So how about it TC? Do you have the courage to meet me in public debate? Quite frankly, I doubt it.

    Save Bears: I’ve been around the West a long time, and I’m not as clueless as you want for me to be. I have observed livestock industry practices and politics for years and have come to the reasoned, factually based conclusion that there is no place for cows and domestic sheep in the West.

    May I suggest, from one SF soldier to another, that you’ll get nowhere calling me ignorant?

    “Fruitless labor bears no fruit.” That’s a meaningless tautology, a meaningless manipulation of words.

    “Endless pressure endlessly applied,” now that’s a practical maxim.


  48. JB Avatar

    I’m having trouble understanding something: Many people here have argued that livestock grazing on western public lands is bad for wildlife (I agree). These same people often argue that the vast majority of public lands grazed by livestock are under the control of a very few, very wealthy, and often foreign, businessmen (I have no knowledge in this arena, so I’ll defer to your expertise).

    Here’s my issue: Seems like you lose a lot of political capital by arguing against ALL livestock grazing (because “cowboys” are unsympathetic) when the real problem is with these few, large-scale operations. Why not collaborate/cooperate/talk with small scale, local producers, and go after the big boys with everything you can muster?

    I’m not trying to provoke anyone, but rather, attempting to understand why you wouldn’t use all of the tools available to you?

  49. JB Avatar

    Sorry, meant to say “because ‘cowboys’ are sympathetic.”

  50. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    The simple answer is that the big boys control the policies. They own the agencies, they call the shots on who in the agencies is hired and fired, they control the subsidies, and they could care less about what happens to the little guys. Remember, the cattle baron range wars of a century ago targeted the little guys, as happened during Wyoming’s Johnson County War (1893), in which the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association recruited, equipped, transported, and deployed a mercenary army, largely recruited from Texas, to murder cowboys, small ranchers, farmers, towns people, even the Johnson County sheriff, to keep the range for themselves, under cover of “dealing with rustling.” Tom Horn wasn’t the only murderer working for the ranchers killing off the opposition; he’s just the one who got caught.

    So, you say, work with the little guys. Funny thing is, the little guys won’t take on the big guys. They absolutely refuse. That’s the dirty little secret of collaboration: you can work with the little guys all you want–it won’t accomplish any change in policy. It never has; it never will. There’s not a single conservation measure that ranchers have supported. They’ve opposed every one, and when conservationists were able to push such measures through, ranchers demand payment. To what extent are we now subsidizing ranchers? Just how much more can the public pay for?

    And are you keeping up with the absurdity of Wyoming’s efforts to delist wolves under the absolutely illegal dual status law? You think maybe that might possibly be driven by the Stockgrowers?

    Finally, it doesn’t change the brutally unimpeachable fact that ranching is fundamentally incompatible with western ecologies and ecosystems.

    As a matter of fact, ranching is incompatible with democracy; spend time at any western legislature and tell me you don’t see oligarchy at work protecting itself, stealing from the public purse. No democracy there.

    Wyoming, for example, can best be described as an oligarchy masquerading as a republic.

    You use tools that work, not ones that don’t work.


  51. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    No where in my preceding comments do I see where I called you or anyone else ignorant…

    You have your approach and I have mine…

  52. Salle Avatar


    I’m all done being vocally upset so I have been trying to come up with ideas for solutions since I decided that being upset is a waste of time and energy after a point. Granted, we all have a different point at which we come to terms with this…

    So, Save Bears claims that talking is the thing we should pursue, JB thinks we should rally the small, local ranch/farmers… I want to compose and submit proposals for newer, more in tune with current issues policy for protecting our “commons”…

    I think, this is me thinking after reading these posts, that it has gone beyond talking and methods that have failed over the years. Besides, EVERYBODY is in big trouble right now as far as jobs and personal finance, not to mention business in this country.

    We ALL have to deal with the pain of this depression we are careening headlong into right now. I believe that this is an opportune time to make significant changes in our nationwide social structure, we’re going to have to or we will suffer even longer than we are already going to. Nothing is profitable anymore, really, and the ranch/farm industry is going to have to bite the bullet along with the rest of us. They don’t really feed us, they feed the fast food network, Canada, Japan and some third world peoples. Some, I repeat, SOME of the small-time ranch/farm folks actually do feed the local markets but that is a small number of acreage that is involved here, and most of those are not necessarily in the interior western states. Even if I’m not entirely correct, it doesn’t matter as much as the fact that we have to rethink the way we live~all of us.

    So I suggest that everyone is going to be forced to address this via the current economic situation, use whatever label you like, in order to come out of this as one nation in the end.

    What I think we should be talking to rancher/farmers about is the fact that they have to give something too, or it isn’t going to be worth it for them because they won’t survive it without participating, period.

    We should try to rally the small timers to participate for their survival as well as ours.

    I think we should try to educate our legislators, even by analyzing and critiquing policy that no longer works and use the tools afforded us in the citizen’s compact of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the other Acts (ESA, Clean Air/Water Acts etc.). We need to KNOW these policies and be able to point to the parts that don’t work for us anymore, not just our opponents having this tool. That’s what establishing ourselves as stakeholders takes, especially effective stakeholders. These public lands belong to all of us and it is our responsibility to go through the due process that is afforded us. We gave it up somewhere along the line and paid big $$ NGOs to do this for us, we need to take back our power and use it ourselves, there is no other way to make this work. We have to reclaim our power, look how badly our hired guns treated us…

    That’s what I recommend we all do, we have a new administration that claims they will listen to us, we should hold them to it after 1/20/09 since we can’t really do anything before that, except get ready.

    I am busy reviewing the ESA, my cup of tea, and comparing it to the history of successes and failures and the parts that have become problematic. I did this in 2004 but things are way different these days so I want to polish my arguments on those parts and find changes that could be palatable for the most stakeholders. that’s how it really is supposed to work and I intend to keep working on it, in fact, I’ve already begun.

  53. vickif Avatar

    On the subject of prairie dogs, I got some photos of the lottle buggers today, they were colonized around an oil well. Those closest to the derrick didn’t even sound an alarm bark when I drove up. The dogs that barked were much closer to the main road.

    I guess they have grown used to workers being around the oil equipment.

  54. Salle Avatar

    Perhaps their natural response abilities have been impaired by being too close to the un-natural oil rigs etc.. You know, gas fumes and rumbling underground and whatever else…

  55. vickif Avatar

    I wonder. I was taking shots from the main road and a guy pulled up and told me to go to the derrick for better shots. I guess they really barked at him when he walked up the road a bit.
    You should see the critters, fat as they could be. My son was impressed by how their tails resemble rattle snakes rattling when they flick they outside their holes.
    He asked why they always run infront of cars (these don’t as much). I explained the whole subterrainian and bad eye sight thing, he pointed out that they barked when shadows passed over and when they heard the car door open.

    I lived up the road from there most of my teen years (less than a half mile from where the prairie dogs are). There was an oil treatment facility a few properties over. We used to go and collect the tad-poles from the trenches that were dried up. The frogs would lay their eggs in them when the rain came. The tad-poles were so deformed it was like a sci-fi novel. Most grew an abnormal number of appendeges, some had no eyes. Anyone who says that current oil practices are low impact should have been forced to eat a frog or two and drink some of the water from the near by house. They might change their tune.
    I can only imagine the extended environmental implications, even to the prairie dogs a half mile away. Scarey.

  56. TC Avatar


    No, unfortunately I cannot debate you in a public arena. I’m forbidden from doing so by my employers, as I’m forbidden from lobbying legislators or contacting them in a professional capacity in anything but a solicited manner. It has nothing to do with courage – please don’t try to demean me so shamelessly. If you feel the need to attack someone personally it detracts from any meaningful (or even spirited and rancorous) debate. And if you feel I’ve done so to you, my apologies. In fact, I’m sorta glad you’re out there in a way, agitating from what I perceive to be a fringe viewpoint – as I’ve stated before, we need the entire continuum to push their agendas or nothing changes, for the better or the worse – I do still believe in democracy until a better system comes along. I’ll keep doing my part to improve wildlife conservation one baby step at a time and I think I’ll be happy with that. No more rants here for me – I think I’m finally learning that actions speak louder than words, and it’s time for me to get back to a few actions hanging fire.

  57. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I tend to agree with Robert regarding why talking to small grazing outfits doesn’t work.

    The small guys won’t stand up, assuming they even want to.

    I had the same experience with the small logging outfits, with the exception that a few of them did show some bravery and could see how they were being exploited.

  58. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    It’s truly sad when truth and ethics are considered the “fringe.”

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Brian Ertz