Livestock as four legged picnic baskets

George Wuerthner wrote a letter to the editor making a great point about the double-standard regarding livestock/wolf conflicts – especially on public lands :

In our national parks it’s illegal to leave out picnic baskets because it will lead to human-bear conflicts. To save bears, humans are fined if they fail to put away food.

But when it comes to ranchers, we have the exact opposite approach. Instead of fining them for leaving four legged picnic baskets scattered all over the landscape — including most of our public lands — we hold the wolves accountable [for] any losses that are largely due to the livestock industry’s poor management.

The whole letter :

Livestock as four legged picnic basketsWuerthner on the Environment




  1. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    Finally someone with sanity.

  2. Virginia Avatar

    What a novel idea in these days of “no responsibility” and “it’s always someone else’s fault”; to expect cattle ranchers to be responsible for the safety of their own cattle – cattle that are being fed by us and on our lands!

  3. Salle Avatar

    I have been making this argument for some time now. Where else do you get to sort of but not quite do your job at a constant loss only to be bailed out by the taxpayer, year after year, with absolutely no job performance review or threat of job loss?

    I wish my research project could meet with funding, it is designed to address this non-accountability of ranchers and other issues surrounding the livestock/wolf controversies… with a science based approach and practices.

  4. Jimt Avatar

    George has been making sense for a long time…VBG…

    I don’t think there is any doubt that certain ranchers outside Yellowstone have been aware they are essentially providing attractive nuisance type baiting of the wolves knowing that the wolves can then be killed…AND the rancher gets reimbursed from the Defenders of Wildlife fund. Yeah,

    So, let’s see..they get the use of public lands for essentially pennies on the dollar compared to the costs on private lands; they get to ignore the environmental restrictions on their permits virtually without monetary or economic penalty; they are not held to any kind of restoration standards for the damage the cows cause to the watershed; they get to practice sloppy livestock management practices with respect to the safety and welfare of their cattle, and get paid off when wolves act like wolves; they are putting animals out there who are ill suited to that environment without LOTS of support, and these animals are the cause of the slaughter of thousands of grazing animals who ARE well suited for the environment, and would make a better source of meat with less damage to our hearts and their environment.

    Yeah, I can see their point of view….NOT…LOL…

  5. Jimt Avatar


    I don’t know if this would help with your plans, but Johanna Wald at NRDC in San Francisco knows more about public land grazing than most folks I know, and she probably could steer you in the right direction…Very nice woman, very direct, and very busy, so be patient if she doesn’t get back to you right away. I think you can go to NRDC website and get her email from there. Good luck.

  6. Salle Avatar

    Thanks Jimt,

    Only problem with that is…

    I wrote the project at their (NRDC’s) behest and with an invitation to an “invitation only” proposal submission but lost that competition. I was asked to “Please continue to seek funding as this study is needed”. That was in July/August 2008. The economy is not on my side at this time. So I am looking but not getting anywhere so far. It’s rather large and takes five years to conduct after it begins, requires personnel and other rather costly components. If I thought I could parcel it into smaller grant proposals with a qualified confidence in getting most of them, I’d do that.

    I was in contact with very knowledgeable and willing to help players in the wolf recovery/management world while designing the project. None of them thought it was a bad idea and some said’ “Nobody’s ever tried that approach and it would be a very valuable study to conduct.”

    Still looking for support in $$. I have interested parties willing to become some of the personnel…

  7. jimt Avatar

    Funding for wildlife and habitat studies is slim from what I know from EDs and fundraisers; foundations, corporate giving and high dollar donors all seem focused on this energy and climate change thing without seeing the necessity and logic of including impacts on the critters and land itself in any energy or climate change plan.

    I hope you continue to try for funding…

  8. Brian Ertz Avatar

    it seems odd to me that we would celebrate wolves’ contribution to the ecosystem (“trophic cascade”) by identifying their propensity to alter ungulate behavior which benefits the landscape in a host of ways – then condemn them for doing ‘their job’ when it comes to the most egregious destroyers of the landscape (i.e. sheep & cattle).

  9. JimT Avatar

    Domesticated sheep and cattle are beyond hope…..!S!

  10. Jon Way Avatar

    BE hit it on the head with all predators, not just wolves. It is just that wolves are in the news most often…

  11. Salle Avatar

    I remember attending a presentation by a long-time biologist from Idaho who consistently identified the situation by admitting that the cougars were the ugly-demon-nightmare-predators-from-hell until the wolves were reintroduced. He said that all the accusations of gloom and doom that the wolves now receive as the scapegoats are exactly the same as were cast toward the cougars prior to the current times of wolves in the wild.

    Indeed, it is the human specie that has a problem with nature… all they seem to want is to control and dominate, as if by some divine proclamation, they have a “right” and “responsibility” to do so ~ stewards ~ HA!. The only problem with this is that humans do dominate all habitat for all living things to the detriment of all living things, including ourselves. What we need, humans that is, would be a depopulation series of events. Since we can’t seem to control our population numbers, nature is the one force that can do it for us, modern medical science or no. (Actually, I think that medical science has usurped the natural order of life and death thus giving way to human overpopulation. We can’t go on like this much longer and be able to support human life, we have exceeded the carrying capacity and are only falsely propping it up with synthetics that will eventually stop working for us. From a biological perspective that’s the way it is whether we like it or not and regardless of our religious beliefs.)

    And, it’s not “saving the planet” that we should be focused on, it’s saving the biosphere that supports all the living things that we should be focused on. “It’s the biosphere, stupid.” The planet will continue on whether there is a biosphere capable of supporting life as we know it or not.

  12. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Where else do you get to sort of but not quite do your job at a constant loss only to be bailed out by the taxpayer, year after year, with absolutely no job performance review or threat of job loss?


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Brian Ertz