Two Oregon counties commit $40,000 taxpayer dollars but ranchers want more.

Ranchers ask for more subsidies in Oregon and receive taxpayer dollars to kill wildlife. Rather than adapting to a changing circumstance by doing more to proactively protect their livestock from predators they ask for the Federal Government to step in with funding while two counties divert $40,000 to hire a wildlife executioner who will spend their days killing coyotes, bears and cougars until the comparatively rare wolf depredation occurs.

Witness the beginning of another welfare ranching subsidy which turns into a system that asks for more and more taxpayer dollars and kills more and more wildlife.

County commits $20,000 for predator control.
Baker City Herald

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

39 Responses to County commits $20,000 for predator control

  1. jdubya says:

    “”Randy Moore, Tik Moore’s son, questioned how much groups defending the wolf reintroduction really care about wildlife and other animals.

    “If those people really care about animals, what about the other animals the wolves kill?” Randy Moore said. “”

    Obviously we are heartless.

  2. pointswest says:

    This indemnity of ranchers and ranching in America reminds me of the story of Marlboro Man during the anti-smoking campaigns of the 1970’s. At the time, the antismoking push was to warn people about smoking and to ban advertising of it. The advertising experts warned that one of the biggest obstacles for the antismoking forces was the Marlboro Man sitting on his horse, riding into the sunset, and smoking his cigarette. There were some very fundamental American values in this image that had to be dealt with.

    I hear some very good arguments that ranchers somehow have some built in political support through western Senators or other political structure. While I’m sure these explanations are valid, I am still one that believes that there is a deep, more subconscious, underlying reason for our unbending support for ranchers. I think ranchers and ranching are a metaphor in American culture. It might be similar to the many Sheppard and his flock metaphors in the Bible. If so, conservation groups will never win by taking ranchers head on. A famous author and lecturer, Joseph Campbell says that people will die for a metaphor, that you see it everyday. I believe this and I see it everyday.

    The antismoking forces finally did a smart thing. They co-opted two famous smoking cowboys, both with terminal lung cancer, to be part of their antismoking campaign. Then, after a couple years of appearing in antismoking adds, Yul Brynner and John Wayne died of lung cancer. This advanced the antismoking agenda by a couple of big leaps…they got advertising of smoking banned from TV and got a much larger and more ominous warning label on cigarette packs.

    I think conservation groups are doing themselves harm by taking ranchers head on. They are a metaphor.

  3. Save bears says:

    What I have found so amazing over the years is the hero worship of one of the harshest groups that have ever inhabited America. Now it is based on wildlife and environment, but if everyone would remember what the ranching community actually did to attain their status most decent people would be appalled, they virtually wiped out a thriving culture to attain their status.. To get where they are now, they used the Federal government support to destroy a culture that existed in this country long before white Europeans ever heard of the west!

  4. nabeki says:

    No more welfare subsidies for ranchers. If they want to absorb the risk of raising livestock in predator country that’s on them. If I build my house in a flood zone and my house keeps getting flooded, should the feds bail me out? Pun intended.

    Why should we lose apex predators just so ranchers can raise more cows and sheep? Why are the needs of the few more important then the general public? I think Brian answered that question yesterday but it bears repeating until people start to pay attention.

  5. Brian Ertz says:


    we hear your argument all the time — that it is impossible, unwise, etc. to take on the western cowboy mythology.

    this may or may not be true. but if the things that we say are true ~ if we see the consequences of this myth and its hold on power — the species lost, the landscapes literally wasted, the water polluted — and if we know that this is true ~ then whose responsibility is it to get that truth out there ?

    is it better that people not know what’s going on ?

    is it better that people not know why it’s going on ?

    what does it say about conservationists who know why something is going on, but hold their lip ? should the public trust those voices ?

    nobody said it was easy — but it absolutely not true that directly taking on the western cowboy mythology, and its hold on influence over public land resource management, is inneffective.

    What does ‘looking the other way’ get conservationists ?

  6. Alan says:

    “The advertising experts warned that one of the biggest obstacles for the antismoking forces was the Marlboro Man sitting on his horse, riding into the sunset, and smoking his cigarette. There were some very fundamental American values in this image that had to be dealt with.”
    Yes, but remember, the Marlboro Man died of cancer.

  7. pointswest says:

    “they used the Federal government support to destroy a culture that existed in this country long before white Europeans ever heard of the west!”

    The indians did it too. The Bannock were pushed south into southern Idaho, Shoshone terriroty, for example, by the Blackfeet who came from further east. The Blackfeet could push their way south and west because they had early trading ties with the Hudson Bay Company and access to guns, lead, and powder that more inland tribes did not have.

    Boys will be boys.

  8. pointswest says:

    “Yes, but remember, the Marlboro Man died of cancer.”

    That was the metaphor that the antismoking campaign sought and achieved in the 70’s. It was planned and executed with military precision.

  9. Save bears says:

    pointswest, I have no condemnation for anything the native Americans did to the whites after they came to this country, the whites virtually practiced several of the things that Hitler did in the 30’s, white man made it his mission to take with out compensation, to herd them onto reservations, change their way of life and destroy their cultures. If we want to take on the Rancher, these facts need to be focused on, of course with your feeling about Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, not having a say, I can see how you feel the way you do..

  10. pointswest says:

    “we hear your argument all the time — that it is impossible, unwise, etc. to take on the western cowboy mythology.

    No, no…I am not arguing that we not take them on, I am arguing that we not take them head on. …that there is more there than meets the eye.

    I am only saying fight smarter….not fight less.

    I am only trying to clearly identify the problem. I do not have all the answers either. It just dawned on me after reading the article that it reminds me of the Marlboro Man.

    I think conservationist should continue working on the rational mind…educate the public to he hash realities of what is happening. But people are not always rational and when they’re not, there is usually some symbolic for metaphorical reason behind it. You can tell people smoking will give you cancer and die but kids continue picking up the habit.

    Some similar is going on with ranching on public lands. It does not make sense. It need to be figured out. I don’t quite understand it myself.

  11. pointswest says:

    ” the whites virtually practiced several of the things that Hitler did in the 30’s”

    I am just saying is it not a race issue. World history is full of examples where a more powerful culture conquers the territory of the weaker culture. The native American themselves conquered new lands too as the balance of power shifted. It is an evil of mankind, in general, and cannot be consigned to a certain race.

  12. Debra K says:

    I read Ken’s posting as pointing towards government as the problem–giving welfare to private individuals to destroy a public resource (wildlife).

    In general, the main targets of conservationists are land management agencies, for their failure to adhere to environmental laws and protect the public’s resources.

    But the perception from the public, flamed by lazy reporters unwilling to do real reporting, is that conservationists are trying to kick the ranchers (or other extractive interests) “off their land.”

    Nobody is trying to kick these ranchers off their land, but they definitely shouldn’t be receiving government subsidies to help in their private businesses.

  13. pointswest says:

    You know Alan, you made a very good point. The Marlboro Man is dead and everyone in America knows it. After reading most of Dr. Wilson Bryan Key’s books on subliminal communications, the following is how I think that a high-dollar Madison Avenue PR company might advise The Wolf Recovery Foundation or the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. They might start a PR campaign called the Marlboro Ghost Ranch.

    The star character in the Marlboro Ghost Ranch would be the dead Marlboro Man. The dead Marlboro Man would look like the Marlboro man we all know with the red shirt, leather vest, grey hat, mustache and he must have the cancer stick hanging from his mouth at all times. The dead Marlboro Man would exhibit offending and arrogant behavior with a complete lack of deference to the Godhead. He would let his cattle overgraze and tromp stream banks. He would be greedy and run hikers and environmentalist from the ranch. He would needlessly and senselessly kill wolves and grizzlies who haplessly wander onto the Marlboro Ghost Ranch.

    The Gods would anger. They would bring fire, floods, droughts, and scourges to the Marlboro Ghost Ranch. The Gods would bring global warming to the entire world. Everyone would be punished for the selfish arrogance of the dead Marlboro Man and his evil deeds on the Marlboro Ghost Ranch.

    Then, representatives of conservation groups, like Ralph Maughn or Marve Hoyt, would dress like the Marlboro Man at any public or media event. They would not ever be seen with a cigarette, however. The would display a new phallic symbol in lieu of the deadly cigarette that would need to be created. It might be a phallic medal or feather that represents high achievement in conservation and in pleasing the Gods. This would symbolize that a new American rancher is on the scene and that the new rancher does show deference to the Godhead and has won favor with the Gods.

    Do you think this would work? I don’t know either but being rational is certainly not doing the trick.

  14. nabeki says:

    Why should our tax dollars be spent for “predator control”? If ranchers are going to raise cattle and sheep in wolf country they need to protect their investment like any business would do. The ranchers in the West could take a lesson from Minnesotans, who have over three thousand wolves yet manage to co-exist with them quite well, without all the dramatics.

  15. HikerID says:

    When I was young (sigh), I worked a summer at the Jackson Hole hospital. They were filming a commercial in the area and the marlboro man fell off his horse, broke his arm and ended up in our hospital. There was more than one in the 60s, but I’m wondering if the poor guy that died of cancer (rip) had health insurance. It irks me to no end that tax dollars go for predator controls to protect cattle. I no longer eat beef and don’t miss it at all.

  16. JimT says:

    Time for Tim Egan and Jon Krakauer to co-author a book on Welfare Ranching:The Heights of Hypocrisy…

    It is absolutely the epitome of the expression “brass cajones” for ranchers to be holding out their hands for more taxpayer welfare dollars (maybe we should call it socialist ranching) to kill predators, and yet these conservative, self-styled “rugged individualists of the Olde West” won’t take responsibility for their own ranching operations, preferring to whine like babies about mean wolves and predators. Moreover, the politicians enable this behavior. When the hell is the American public going to wake up?

  17. jdubya says:

    Sounds like the problem is solved and they can put the money back into the bank.

  18. JEFF E says:

    from the article cited by jdubya. hmmmm

    “….Biologists say it was unusual for this pair of yearling wolves — a male and a female that had not bred — to be traveling together rather than as part of a pack.

    Biologists speculate that the absence of older wolves, ones more skilled in hunting deer and elk, might have forced the young pair to resort to preying on comparatively helpless sheep, calves and one goat……”

  19. ProWolf in WY says:

    Pointswest, the cowboy mythology has been a symbol that will not go away. As I understand, that is many foreigner’s interpretation of America.

  20. JimT says:

    Problem? Guess it depends on one’s perspective…

  21. pointswest says:

    “Pointswest, the cowboy mythology has been a symbol that will not go away. As I understand, that is many foreigner’s interpretation of America.”

    I like the cowboy mythology. I like the Yellowstone region, its people, and its culture. I grew up there. What you do is turn the mythology in your favor. The antismoking campaign turned American against tobacco because tobacco killed the Marlboro Man. What I think the conservation movement needs to do is displace the old foolish and dead Marlboro Man cowboy with a new more enlightened 21st century cowboy. That is why Ralph Maughn and Marve Hoyt would need to dress as cowboys but with a new and different phallic symbol in lieu of the cigarette.

  22. Some years ago Western Watersheds had bill boards in Idaho depicting the cattle industry as welfare queens. I think they were very effective in getting the anti-subsidy message out to the public.

  23. pointswest says:

    In the movie Pale Rider,( that was filmed out near the Boulder Mountains in Idaho), Clint Eastwood played a gunfighter turned preacher. The preacher ended up defending this camp of family oriented miners partially because they mined with the more environmentally friendly gold pans. The villains in the story were a big company who wanted to take over the mining claims and placer mine the entire Carbon Canyon drainage. So Clint Eastwood was hero in this story because he protected the environment from the ravages of placer mining.

    If the conservationists could get Clint Eastwood to produce a movie where the hero cowboy protected wolf and grizzly habitat from greedy and unscrupulous ranchers (as opposed to good environmentally friendly ranchers) the problems would be over.

  24. Dan Mottern says:

    I am not sure why it is so hard to understand ranchers wanting tax dollars for predator control. Truth of the matter is, everyone wants tax dollars. Farmers, ranchers, retail stores, professional services, etc. Tax dollars are spent. That’s how the system works! The more that are brought in, the more that are spent. And, as we all know, sometimes our brilliant politicians overspend what is brought in. Realistically speaking, ranchers hold large land bases – private and public lands. Our tax system, especially county tax systems, are intimately linked to land holders, so if some of the largest land holders squawk, their needs are usually addressed. Separate county tax dollars from land and you might find that it’s easier to cut the rancher, aka large land holders, out of the spending. My 2 cents!

  25. ProWolf in WY says:

    I agree, a 21st century cowboy of sorts would be good. Not so sure I’m sold on a phallic symbol. What do you suggest?

  26. pointswest says:

    “I agree, a 21st century cowboy of sorts would be good. Not so sure I’m sold on a phallic symbol. What do you suggest?”

    …a feather in tha hat band, tilted sharply back.

  27. Save bears says:


    I am not sorry to say, even with your 2 cents, you owe me a bit more.!

  28. Cris Waller says:

    “Separate county tax dollars from land and you might find that it’s easier to cut the rancher, aka large land holders, out of the spending. My 2 cents!”

    I am curious- in Idaho and Montana, what are the property taxes on agricultural vs. developed land? I know that the taxes we pay on our ag. property in WA are only about a tenth what we would pay if the land was developed- and that would be for just one house. If we had, say 20 houses on the property, the taxes would be 200 times as much! And I know that land in exclusive forest use designation is taxed at an even lower rate.

    So, as a whole, he large landowners may not be contributing as much as you’d think.

  29. Dan Mottern says:

    Save Bears,
    You think? hmmm, well, I did have to read your swill about Hitler……

  30. Dan Mottern says:

    I am sure you are right about large developments paying large property tax sums in WA. However, you are most likely speaking in terms of cities, where tax dollars are spent on paving the planet with endless interchanges….In a rural setting; the largest land holders are paying a respectable sum even if they are taxed at a lower rate per designation. In the city, your dollars are going to city needs. Cities usually require many more dollars than the much smaller county populations. As a county resident or county tax payer the dollars are spent on county projects instead of city projects…i.e. predator control instead of pigeon control.

  31. pointswest says:

    “I am curious- in Idaho and Montana, what are the property taxes on agricultural vs. developed land?”

    In Idaho, property tax is levied as elsewhere by property value but there is something called the ag exemption. If land is agricultural, property tax is based upon income from the land. I believe this applies to ranch and farm land. Tax assessors look at how much money a parcel of land makes over a period of time and taxation is based on this. I believe there are a few different methods used and I’m sure there are abuses.

    What is common in developing areas is that land can be worth tens of thousands of dollars per acre, but owners still take the ag exemption and only pay taxes based on agricultural income…that may be nearly zero. This ag exemption is also known as the developers discount. As long as a property has some kind of agricultural income (i. e. one cow), taxes can be based upon it no matter how low that income might be. This is why you still see plenty of farming in a place like Teton Valley, Idaho where the average land value is $65,000 per acre.

  32. Save bears says:

    Dan Says:

    “You think? hmmm, well, I did have to read your swill about Hitler……”

    No you didn’t have to read anything I wrote, you chose to read it.

  33. Dan Mottern says:

    Save Bears,
    Exactly, as you chose to read mine as well…..

  34. Save bears says:


    And you and I both chose to comment on said comments…

  35. Sharona says:

    It will never be enough. No matter what subsidising the goverment does. It’s all about the almighty dollar. Wildlife & habitat will suffer regardless.

    An “Executioner” has to be hired to kill off the population of other predators, just for a chance to kill Wolves?

    Sad indeed……

  36. Scott Miller says:

    The open range of the west is so extensive and expansive most people can’t even grasp the magnitude. Because of the expanse there exists open-range-laws. They basically state that if you want livestock kept off of your property, you have to fence them out. The laws were put in place to protect the early inhabitants of the west from being legally dictated to by new settlers, mostly farmers of smaller acreages. They will continue to exist until enough people move into the rangelands to cast the votes and change the laws. The same expansion of civilization is what most threatens wildlife. Check your facts, stats, professors, etc. It is loss of habitat to development that most impacts wildlife. The loss of open, unbroken space. This space is preserved by ranch operations and you should be happy there is economic value in keeping working ranches operating as they preserve this open space. The alternative is ranchettes. There are two pseudo habitat types that support close to zero wildlife. Vegetative monocultures of farms and subdivisions (I’m not talking about the occasional coyote or vole here so don’t take me absolutely literally). My point is your goals are somewhat counterproductive. When regulations, laws, law suits, city encroachment, etc. force us to quit ranching we are going to sell our lands to developers and housing tracts and ranchettes are going to spring up like weeds. Habitat will be lost forever. Zoning laws only temporarily halt the progress. History and time tells us that as soon as people get too crowded, they change the laws to suit their wants. They are local and state laws and I have seen it go back and forth, back and forth in my short life time.

    Many ranchers are becoming the 21st century “cowboy” you refer to. Most ranchers are more interested in the science of being a stockman. Most are college educated today. It’s mostly the young guys who come from the cities with illusions of riding and roping hard that want the title of cowboy. They get hired on and usually don’t last too long because the work is seven days a week and there is nothing romantic about it.

    As a rancher I start by focusing on healthy range habitat. Healthy range ecology means healthy, robust cattle. Poor range, poor cattle. Even if I was only profit oriented it would still be wise to promote healthy ecology. A healthy range ecosystem benefits the wildlife too. As water developments are put in vast dry areas, wildlife expands range to utilize the resources there. Water is often the limiting resource for man and beast. Open space, productive rangelands, and water benefits wildlife as well as cattle. It benefits them a whole lot more than ten acre ranchettes each with 4 -5 horses and nothing but bare soil and weeds underneath.

    I am not saying every rancher is an ecologist, but things have changed in that direction in a big way. The guys who over utilize the range are doing it to the detriment of their livestock and are slowly running themselves out of business. I’ve watched it happen over and over and I won’t try to defend those operators. When they go out of business one of two things happens. The land gets developed or the land is purchased by someone that knows how to keep it healthy.

    Wolves are moving in on our land. We are worried, but I don’t stay up at night worrying about it. There is going to be some losses. Maybe I will get compensated for them maybe not, but the more often a neighbor does get compensated, the more forgiving to the whole reintroduction I will be. The more often I see impositions places on whole communities of people for a species, the species recovered and delisting occurring, the more I believe in what the USFWS and state says they will do and the more cooperation they will get from me.

    What does worry me is that as predators populate an area children become at risk. Don’t tell me bears, mountain lion, and wolves don’t stalk people. Wolves have not followed me yet that I know of, but I have in many instances been stalked by lions and bears. If I appeared to them as easy prey, who knows. Predators are always going to seek the biggest meal at the least amount of personal risk. It is their nature. For me there is no collateral damage measure that involves a child. (i.e. I would not trade the life of a child for any number of wolves would you?).

    I get really tired of ranchers being accused of receiving welfare or subsidies. The people who believe this are being taught “fuzzy math”.

    This is a very realistic scenario. Say I am a rancher with a township of government land leased in a large block (36 sections or 23,040 acres). The land will support one AUM (Animal unit month; That’s one cow or one cow with her calf for one month) per 60 acres for the growing season. Remember, automatically, more than half of the annual forage grown is left, per year, for plant health and wildlife needs. So, we can stock the lease with 384 cows from June through Sept.. (the govt. sets the stocking rate).This equates to 1536 AUMs. Let’s say the current AUM rate is $1.79/AUM. My bill to the government will be $2749.44. But wait, that’s not all folks. Remember the government requires you, the leasee, to do all the maintenance on the property in order to run your cows. Let’s be really conservative (on your side) and say there is only 30 miles of fence around the perimeter, on riparian areas, and a cross fence or two. Remember we are talking about 36 square miles of land. There would also most likely be 20 – 30 water development structures to maintain (windmills, solar pumps, catch basins etc.). The fencing is going to require 2 man days per mile, at least, just to fix holes and breaks. A working ranch day is a 10 hour day. We don’t work 9 – 5. So, 30*2*10 = 600 hours of labor for fencing. Water structures are going to require about 1.5 days of work each, per season, to keep them in repair. So, 25*1.5*10 = 375 hours of labor. Now we have to supply 975 hours of labor just to maintain the property. Let’s say we hire a person to help with this. A good wage for ranch labor would be $12/hr. Add payroll taxes (SS, FICA, Medicaid, workers comp.,etc.) and it’s an additional 60% on top of the wage you will pay out-of-pocket. So, you are realistically paying $19.2 an hour for labor. Your labor bill comes to $18,720 for the season, to run cows on this property. Add that to the AUM charge and it is a total of $21,469. Now what I really wind up paying is $13.9 per AUM. Which is in the ball park for any private grazing lease. We leased some of our land for grazing to a neighbor. We are charging $19 per AUM. However, we provide all the fencing, irrigation labor, fertilizer, move the cows when it is time, doctor the cows when they need it ( we had pink eye go around this year so we did a lot of doctoring), provide salt and mineral, and do routine health checks on the herds every few days. If the government wants to do all that, then they could justify charging what we do. They don’t and don’t try to tell me for an instant that this is not close to reality. This is the way it is. That is why the government can only justify charging a few dollars per AUM. It is not subsidizing. It is a real market value. So, your government is getting something from millions of acres of land that no one ever even sees. All across OR, NV, MT, UT, WY, NM,AZ there are millions and millions of acres that are desolate, devoid of people and of no economic value other than some grazing and the government is getting something for it.

    Now, all of these states have open range laws. That means in all of the wide open places, if you don’t want your neighbors cows there, you have to fence them out. It would be up to the government to maintain all of this land at 100% of the expense if they choose to do nothing with it. Not to lease it I mean. If they did not, my cows could and would trespass and it would be their responsibility to do something about it. That’s the way it is. Instead, the govt. makes something from the land and gets the work done by the rancher. On top of that the water developments benefits the wildlife. Areas with active grazing supports more wildlife. Don’t believe me ask the Nature Conservancy. They started off with your attitude. They would buy up large ranches, remove the cattle to create more “wildlife habitat”. To their dismay, studies, and real scientific research, wildlife populations dropped. I can write ten papers about plant nutrition and plant physiology to explain why, but what happened was their science told them that grazing livestock was beneficially to their goals. Today, based on science, they have changed their perspective and actively lease their lands to cattle grazing for the sake of wildlife.

    I hope you all look for common ground instead of a fight. The truth is in the middle. Seek it and embrace it. I’ll keep trying if you do.

    Scott Miller
    V.P. Union County Cattlemen
    Union, OR

  37. mikepost says:

    Scott, a well reasoned and informative post which will be lost on most of these emotional and biased folks. There is more permanent damage done to the land when ranches fail and become developed into housing, even “ranchette” housing, than cows have ever done. Don’t lose heart but the “common ground” is not too common on this blog.

  38. Cris Waller says:

    Scott and mikepost-

    Very short, as I am on my way to work:

    Aren’t the arguments “don’t graze it and it will be turned into housing” not applicable to Federal land?

  39. jerryB says:

    “For me there is no collateral damage measure that involves a child. (i.e. I would not trade the life of a child for any number of wolves would you?).”
    I doubt anyone here would trade the life of a child for any number of wolves.
    This “fear mongering” about children being attacked by predators detracts from all your talk of welfare ranching, range ecology, profit and loss etc. It sounds like it was written by someone in Catron County or here in Western Montana.
    I worked with and coached kids for years and I’m here to tell you that kids suffer much more physical and psychological damage from parents, relatives, acquaintances, clergy and strangers than any encounter with predators or any wild animal.
    I’m not saying that predators don’t stalk people, but in reality it’s the 2-legged predators that people overlook.


September 2009


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey