4th generation Montana rancher turned against cattle-

Bozeman Earth Day speaker: Beef is bad for the planet. By Gail Schontzler. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

81 Responses to Bozeman Earth Day speaker: Beef is bad for the planet

  1. Dude, the bagman says:

    No, 6+ billion people wanting a western standard of living is bad for the planet. Are we all supposed go turn vegetarian so we can keep popping out kids? We’re breeding ourselves out of a place at the table.

    • Mtn Mama says:

      Your point is clear. However, eating lower on the food chain can ensure that we leave some leftovers for those kids who are being “popped out”.

    • Dude, the bagman says:

      I’m certainly not advocating eating Big Macs for every meal. And I’m not detracting from the health benefits of eating lower on the food chain either. My brother is a veggie, and I flirted with the idea for a short time. I generally do eat pretty low on the food chain, but I decided that bacon is just too damn delicious to forgo.

      I do think that there is a large value judgment inherent in the “eat less meat because vegetables and grains can feed more people” line of reasoning. It assumes that people’s decisions to make more people takes precedence over the standard of living of those already here. Essentially it says “Move. Make room. I gotta breed.”

      While I don’t want to starve anyone, I don’t feel particularly inclined to give up meat altogether just to cram a few more billion people on the planet. Maybe less food to go around would increase the price of food and lead people to not have kids they (and the planet) can’t really afford anyway. Moreover, people don’t really starve because there’s a lack of food to go around. People starve because the food is not distributed equitably where and when it’s needed.

      Why not honor the people who are already here and the remaining unspoiled places by not becoming completely overrun with people? What makes the individual right to reproduce more important than the right to individualized resource use and breathing room? The outcome is somewhat comparable either way – usurping resources for human consumption. Certainly the livestock industry has environmental costs, but so would billions of new people. Livestock don’t live in heated houses or drive cars (or eat Big Macs).

      While I sympathize with people without access to birth control, I have no patience for the “John and Kate plus 8” types who either: (1 want an army of little zealots because theirs is the one true religion; (2 know where babies come from but don’t plan accordingly; or (3 feel entitled to subject the rest of the world to the consequences of their (lack of) family planning decisions. If it’s between my right to breathing room and their reproductive rights, I choose me.

      Yes, “popped out.” I don’t care if people want to replace themselves, but “popped out” was intended to be derogatory to those who feel entitled to have litters at everyone else’s expense. I know it’s sacrilegious to the whole “miracle of birth” crowd, but when there are more than 6 billion of us on the planet, and the population has been growing at an exponential rate, I just don’t think people are really as precious as we’d like to pretend.

      An anecdotal example: the town I grew up in used to have one stop light. Since I was a kid, the forests and bike trails next to the river where I used to swim and ride bikes has been almost completely replaced with subdivisions. The population of the place has expanded to more than 10 times what it was 40 years ago. A lot of that is attributable to migration, but a lot of that is driven by population growth and our tendency to behave like locusts (which are vegetarians until they turn cannibalistic). The end result is paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. I get pushed to greener pastures with the rest of the locusts.

      • Mtn Mama says:

        Dude, sounds like you & Paul White are on a crusade against babies. I totally agree that there are too many humans on the planet and in no way do I want to sound self righteous, but I do feel the need to defend the fact that I gave birth to 2 lovely girls. It was a deliberate decision for me to bring more souls into this world and I do not take the responsibility lightly. I am trying to raise my kids to be defenders of the planet & biodiversity. The fact is more educated people are having less children while the poor & uneducated continue to reproduce out of control. Who will lead these future generations when we are dead & gone? We as a family do many things to reduce our carbon foot print on the planet. My 5 year old can tell you what Welfare Ranching is and mourned a dead field mouse for days. My 2 year old screams “American Greed” every time we pass a development project that has displaced many critters. I have carried my babies on my back across the continental divide and breast fed @ 10,000ft. In the last year I have personally met with Senators and my Congressman to advocate for environmental policy. I spend countless hours volunteering to protect wildlife and habitat all the while my girls are watching & learning…….Not all people who reproduce are blindly wandering.

  2. Mtn Mama says:

    Indeed eating lower on the food chain is not only better for the environment it is better for our own personal health, I have practiced varying levels of vegetarianism for 20yrs now, but I will not pass up my Dad’s deer steak hoagies (yum)- Free range wild game is another topic. I believe to boycott the “meat” industry, ecspecially beef & lamb is an indirect way to help many forms of wildlife also.

    The following is an excerpt from a letter on the BFC’s website
    Vote Against the Slaughter with Your Purchasing Power:
    Boycott Montana Beef!

    “As we near the one thousand mark I ask myself what can I do and I always come up with boycott Montana beef. I personally do not wish to disrespect life in any form so I do not disrespect the cattle. I support the ability of tracking beef and all food products. I want to know if the animals are treated humanely or if they are left in muddy fields of urine and slop before they are murdered for human consumption. I want the animals that I eat honored in their life, as I want the buffalo honored with integrity in their life.”
    -Ehnamani 06

    • Well, how can anyone boycott Montana beef or any other kind of agricultural product without boycotting that product entirely (which I do in the case of beef)?

      • Immer Treue says:

        Whatever happened to the concept of wolf friendly beef that was thrown around at the 2000 Intl Wolf Symposium?

  3. Phil says:

    I can’t imagine the pressure the man went through being a fourth generation farmer who became a vegetarian. I am a vegetarian, but did not go through the pressures that this gentleman went through, although on I always get asked the “How can you not eat meat?” “Where do you get your proteins from?” I guess he wanted to make his mark by going a different route in life.

    • Mtn Mama says:

      My Grandfather (89) still runs a few dozen heads of cattle- when I told him several years ago that I stopped eating beef his reply was “what are you communist?”

      • skyrim says:

        Some would have us think that not eating beef is truly “un American”. Vegetarians are the butt of many jokes in the cow community, but it truly is the only way we can personally object to the “sacred cow”.
        And just like cigarettes, the price will continue to go higher, the more of us give up the stinking damn stuff. The cost of heart disease is on the rise.

  4. Mike says:

    I gave up beef about eight years ago. Conversations on this fourm combined with what’s I’ve seen the last eight years out west has put things in perspective. And it’s not the cow’s fault. As usual, it’s the people.

    Beef is bad for the land, bad for animals, and bad for your heart.

    Odds of dying by a grizzly in Yellowstone: 1 in 3 million
    Odds of dying by a cougar attack in California: 1 in 32 million
    Odds of dying via attack by any animal not a dog or pet: 1 in 4,200,000
    Odds of dying by accidental firearm discharge: 1 in 5134
    Odds of dying by firearm assault: 1 in 324
    Odds of dying from heart disease: 1 in

  5. Paul White says:

    I’d say I eat beef 1-2 times a week–not a lot of time. Most of my consumption is chicken or turkey (for health reasons–lower calories). But damned if I’m going vegetarian so we can cram more people on the planet. I’m sick of acting like we have to set things up so we can fit more and more people on this earth. Let’s start imposing a tax on children, particularly past the first one or two. Let’s quit stigmatizing people that forgo having kids. Let’s reduce social programs that indirectly encourage having more kids.

    • Immer Treue says:

      2 kids max = ZPG

    • Savebears says:

      I know, I am not giving up meat, no matter what anyone says, most of mine is wild game, but I do on occasion eat a nice beef rib steak! You guys eat grass, and I will stick to my meat!

      • wolf moderate says:

        I just got back from Outback Steakhouse. The “Outback Style” prime rib is to die for. I do have to block out the “earthlings” documentary that I watched at the urging of Nancy though. Pretty gross treatment by some cattle producers.

      • I really like beef. It brings back memories of Sunday dinner when I was a child . . . roast beef, my dad and mom. Great memories!

        However, my distaste for the cattle industry and all the negative side effects is stronger. I don’t eat beef or drink milk. I eat sorbet instead of ice cream. Chicken, pork and turkey are very good, although they too put a big burden on our environment.

      • Savebears says:

        Virtually all commercial food production puts a real strain on the environment.

      • Savebears,

        True, but some foods put a lot more strain on the environment than others.

      • Savebears says:


        My wife worked for one of the largest grain production companies in the country for over ten years, even grain production puts a massive strain on the environment, lettuce and vegetable production does as well, there is nothing we produce on a massive scale to feed the people that does not harm the environment in a very big way..

      • Savebears,

        Yes, grain production takes it toll in many ways, but consider that much of it is fed to cattle, so the cost of grain is only part of the total cost of beef.

        The cost of growing corn shows the craziness of turning it into ethanol. No wonder food prices are rising.

        I just got back from Yuma, Arizona. I spent some time watching the pesticide planes do their daredevil spraying of the fields. So I know about the costs of veggies too.

    • Salle says:

      Amen to that. I decided, at the onset of my childbearing years, that I would never reproduce, and now that I’m way too old, I consider myself successful in doing just that. I have been ridiculed for being childless, though I have raised two generations of my immediate family – siblings and then helping them with their children. I have been overlooked for jobs with the excuse that I didn’t need it as much as someone with kids or other benefits because I wasn’t accepting of the glass ceiling for women that is most easily applied when children are a factor.

      Humans have exceeded their carrying capacity and need to recognize and deal with this because we are now putting all life on earth at stake for the sake of some “urge’ to reproduce that should be considered with more independent cognition than is currently taking place. It seems that this “go forth and multiply in mass quantities” is born of some religious mumbo-jumbo that needs to end as an expectation of compliance. (A form of male superiority that is bunk and is employed to keep women from attaining the same levels of “freedom” and success – social acceptability – so that men can remain more powerful and “lord over” women with regard to their daily lives (just look at the anti-women legislation arising of late. In many cases/professions the lack of a “husband” is a cue to treat women as something less than respectable or “worthy” of whatever it is that a woman might seek for her survival. Apparently to some, women have no value if they don’t submit to bearing children for survival in society – an unspoken mandate.) This foolishness needs to go away.

      • skyrim says:

        Cheers Salle. Many men, myself included, have never viewed the matter of child bearing as a “value” issue. I have far more respect for a gal who “chooses” to remain childless than these women who see it as their only worth, or worse yet, their duty. As long as there is one lonely child on this planet who is without family, there is no need to reproduce more.

      • Indamani says:

        I’ve read many of your posts and have always enjoyed them. All of what you said about human population and the need to control it, I’m in total agreement. I, too, chose not to have children and have often thought of the bible’s “mumbo-jumbo” of “go fourth and multiply in mass quatities” is a lot of bunk.

  6. Phil says:

    When I was working my intern last summer, one woman I was working with (who works with Hippos and Rhinos) said she had not eaten any kind of meat since 1977. I was shocked because I did not think there were any vegetarians, let alone vegans, at that time. It is basically a culture change from generation to generation. For me the change occured when I saw a cow being pushed by a forklift to be slaughtered. The cow layed down and was refusing to go in, but was no match for the forklift. Another experience was when I took my class a two years ago to a farm (no slaughter farm) to see the pigs, cows, horses and chicken there. What we saw was a two day old calf cow and all the students (12-14 years old) absolutely loved him. I do not mind people who eat meat, but I dislike people who criticize others who either eat or do not eat meat. Rockholm has a video on his youtube “Vegan vs Meat” in which he insults heavily anyone who does not eat meat. And, we are suppose to believe his “Yellowstone is Dead” story has credentials?

  7. STG says:

    The important issue is industrial farming versus small-scale, sustainable organic farming. There are major difference between these two methods of farming: The products they produce (meat or vegetables) have different nutrient profiles, the impact on the environment (human and geographical) is not the same, nor is the care, feeding, confinement and treatment of the animals the same. Buy local (support co-ops)when possible and/or eat organic meat or produce. Know where your food comes from and visit the producer if possible. Google Youtube for the adverse impact of GMO soybean production in South America.

    • wolf moderate says:


      I went to the Boise Co-Op because I wanted to start eating “free range” organic chicken. Do you know what they want for a pound of boneless-skinless chicken? $9/pound! That is completely unrealistic for families w/ children. There produce is the same. It’s twice or more what it is at Fred Meyer and Walmart. It is impossible for the “typical” american to pay these prices. Sad but true. I decided to just eat the flash frozen chicken from Albertson’s instead. It’s only $2.50/pound. I’d rather eat locally grown organic chicken but can’t afford to pay 4x what regular chicken costs.

      • skyrim says:

        Oh you could too. Just eat it 4 times fewer than you’d like to. Or better yet, grow your own.

      • STG says:

        I understand the cost is often a hardship on some families. One solution is to eat less meat but of higher quality-organic grass-fed, locally produced. Consider eating eggs or other protein sources such as legumes on days when you don’t eat meat. I buy eggs directly from a family operation. I pay more but the quality of eggs and the welfare of the chickens I value. I have visited the small, quasi- farm so I know where the product comes from. Animal welfare and organic techniques are really important to me so I am willing to pay for them. Food prices are low in the country and we don’t really assume all the costs. Part of this has been a result of industrial farming with its use of pesticides and mass produced grain and legume feeding of cows that should be eating grass instead. I was a vegetarian for many years and understand the animal welfare issues. However, a vegetarian diet is not healthy for all people as some proponents argue. For some people, because of its high carbohydrate content, it can adversly effect blood sugar metabolism and have a negative effect on health.

    • wolf moderate says:

      Yup that’s really practical for the “typical” American…Living in an apartment growing chickens lol.

      • vickif says:

        hey, soon we will have stem cell farms in the fridge, and we will simply frow a chicken breast, or a burger. LOL Seriously, there are more scientificly sound ways to deal with nutrition. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune for organic, and maybe you can’t wrangle chickens in an apartment, but you coud snare a squirrel, or a crow, with luck.
        I am sorry for the sarcastic response, but cattle do damage in ways chickens don’t. Chickens are not grazed on public lands. Turkeys don’t expend nearly as much gas….pids, well they aren’t grazed in the National Forests either. You don’t hear of hog farmers freakin’ about wolves. Why? Well, they are not in the forest.

      • vickif says:

        *grow chicken breasts
        *pigs don’t graze public lands

      • Savebears says:

        Vicki, Domestic pigs don’t graze on National forest land, but in many parts of the country feral pigs are becoming a very big problem on public as well as private lands.

      • wolf moderate says:

        You are right Vickif! I’m goin’ squirrel hunting right now 😉

        Cows piss me off. The bulls are mean and one time I almost shot one during deer season. He charged me and scared the heck out of me. Cattle really shouldn’t have free range of our national forests and wilderness areas. We agree on that. The sheep in the Payette National Forest north of McCall need to go away too. Luckily some of the hippies got sheep banned in some of the areas up there. Nasty little things. I believe about 200-250,000 acres are now safe for wild sheep.

      • Vickif,

        I have thought that a solution does lie somewhere all the line you suggest.

        Meat or something similar that has the taste and texture people enjoy will be grown or fabricated without coming from an animal.

        That would solves the resource intensiveness of meat and the ethical problem some people have with the growing and killing of animals.

      • Nancy says:

        Wolf Mod – have you looked locally for a ranch or farm that sells eggs? Chances are they probably have whole, fresh killed chickens for sale too. Usually word-of-mouth. And you are gonna pay an “arm and a leg” for a boned & skinned chicken, best to buy it whole and cut it up yourself.

      • wolf moderate says:

        A girl I work with sells eggs from her farm. I could buy whole chickens from her, but it would be a huge inconvenience, vs buying flash frozen from supermarket. thanks for the input, but I’ll have to think about buying whole chickens for a while. Kind of messy.

        I did grow a “crisis garden” this year. It’s the first time I’ve gardened. It is fun, but my tomato plants died because it got really cold for a few nights (cold for Boise I mean, not podunk Montana).

        Good luck.

      • Nancy says:

        Glad you attempted a garden Wolf Mod. I had a 12′ by 16′ plot last year that provided fresh greens into the fall. Had to keep heavy plastic covering over it for most of the the time though – too many frosty nights here in Podunk.

      • vickif says:

        Save Bears,
        True, feral pigs should be harvested and the meat could go to feeding folks. They are meaner than a snake too.

        There is a show on TV right now, where a chef tries to do just this, he uses faux foods and people rate the meals.
        Some might suggest soy as an alternative. But I don’t know if it is eco-friendly. I think we need to find these solutions. Particularly, in light of recent natural disasters, we need sources of food that can be used when farming/ranching is not an option.

  8. IDhiker says:

    My wife and I gave up eating all forms of meat about five years ago. We always knew about the horrible treatment of animals by the livestock industry, and decided to not be hypocrites, and to “practice what we preach.” Now, if we hadn’t already stopped eating beef, we definitely would stop now, considering the extremes this industry goes to in order to decimate wolves and bison. Not including the destruction of range-lands necessary for other species such as deer and elk.

    In addition, there are the obvious health benefits to be enjoyed by abstaining from beef. Personally, I don’t miss meat one bit, and the sight of the meat counter in a grocery store now nauseates me. Many meat eaters make fun of us, think we must feel weak, or something silly like that. Who cares? We are proud of the fact that we don’t participate in this industry any longer, and, odds are, we’ll live longer, healthier, and more active lives as a result.

    Both my brother and my wife’s sister have married into Idaho and Montana cattle families. We’ve seen it first-hand and up close and didn’t like what we saw. We realize, of course, that people have different levels of empathy for other living things – perhaps ours is higher than most.

    Inflicting suffering and terror on other creatures, for the brief pleasure of eating, just seemed a poor trade-off in personal ethics to us. Especially, since, unlike wolves and other predators, killing and eating isn’t necessary for humans in this day and age, except by choice.

    • Savebears says:

      I get so tired of this killing and eating isn’t necessary for humans in this day and age argument, what might not be necessary for you, is not what is necessary for me! I like meat! most of what I eat is wild game meat, but I still enjoy an occasional beef steak and will continue to eat meat. If I buy commercial eat, the majority of time it is pork grown on a local farm here. But stop trying to tell others what is necessary for them. What we eat is a choice, you made your choice, that is great, but don’t expect others to not make the choice for themselves on what is necessary.

      • IDhiker says:

        Actually, I wasn’t telling you how to eat. I was telling my rationale for what I do. What I meant by “necessary,” was that you don’t need meat to have good nutrition. Your “necessary” is still a choice. I liked meat, too, but I made a choice to give it up. You don’t need to be so defensive about your choice to eat meat. I think my comments are clear I was talking about my wife’s and my choices.

      • Savebears says:

        I am glad you found a solution that works for you, my only point is the uppity attitude that some take because the majority of humans are still meat eaters, our bodies are programed for meat as well as vegetable matter, we are true omnivores… There was no defense, I don’t need to defend my choice, but I do get tired of the hypocritical way that some judge, just stopping eating beef does not offer much of a solution and to accuse those who do eat beef of having less empathy is a stretch.

        If we are to look at ALL of the products produced by ranching of animals, the eating is a small part of it. There are many other product produced from the ranching of animals. Until a person that has stopped consuming all products produced by ranching, I have a hard time thinking they are really doing much.

      • IDhiker says:

        True, it probably doesn’t do much. But, all great journeys start with a single step. And, personally, it helps clear my conscience, which means something to me. To others, such as yourself, your conscience is clear also with your choice. We all have to deal with our own personal thoughts and morality.

      • Savebears says:

        You really want to take on an issue that is bigger than anyone imagines, take on the Queen of England, I was watching a special about the upcoming royal wedding! Guess what the queens guard all where that funny looking black hat, do you realize it takes one black bear to make each hat, there are over 500 in the queens guard, and they make new hats for each new guard, each guard owns 3 hats! so at a minimum that is 1500 bears walking down the road at any given time to fulfill the dress uniform of the queens guard!

      • JB says:

        “… our bodies are programed for meat as well as vegetable matter, we are true omnivores… I do get tired of the hypocritical way that some judge, just stopping eating beef does not offer much of a solution…”

        I suppose that depends upon your definition of the problem. Is the problem the way animals are treated, the hormones they are fed, or the environmental impacts? In most cases you can buy locally produced, organic meats that solve all three problems. Of course, not everyone has a choice. Many people don’t eat meat because of their religion and ~1/16,000 (my son included) can’t eat meat because their body’s cannot adequately process phenylalanine (an amino acid in protein).

      • Savebears says:

        Leave it to JB!


      • WM says:

        Probably would not hurt most of us to think about decreasing our consumption of meat. The nutritional inefficiencies of converting energy from sunshine stored in vegetation which is then consumed by the hooved animals (or poultry) we eat, is pretty high.

        Then there is all that waste created by feedlots, where cows belch out CO2 and methane by the thousands of tons: cattle responsible for 9% pf CO2 and 37% methane, which is contributing substantially, it seems, to global warming.

        When you look at the other effects of eating meat, like cholesterol, and our quick fix of synthetic cholesterol control drugs, which get excreted or otherwised dumped into wastewater, then run through waste treatment facilities which do little to change their chemical composition, then get released into the environment where they are readily available in the food chain (along with birth control products) that adversely affect other living organisms (think deformed and mutated fish and frogs here).

        Even reducing our consumption of meat by 1/3 has the possibility of helping slow global warming and improving the quality of water. I saw a very good presentation at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC, Canada a couple years back. Geared to kids, full of easy to grasp science and entertaining to watch, with very funny animated sheep as the entertaining and exceptionally informative narrators.

        Too damn bad we can’t put together something like that here, but the full spectrum beef lobby from growers, to processors to end product retailers (think McDonalds, Burger King and your local Safeway) prevent it.

      • JB says:

        Sorry, SB. Given my wife’s occupation (public health research) and my son’s condition (PKU), I am intimately familiar with the negative health effects associated with consuming red meat.

    • Savebears says:

      And in this day and age to say people don’t have empathy because they choose to eat what they feel is right for them, is going quite a ways!

      • wolf moderate says:

        It’s kind of like the hollywood elites who buy there Toyota Prius and say “look at how green I am” while at the same time they own multiple mansions and private jets! zzzzzzzzzzzzzz! Give me a break.

      • IDhiker says:

        Certainly a person who makes the choice to eat meat has less empathy in regards to animals. Otherwise, it stands to reason that you wouldn’t kill something because you enjoy it’s taste.

      • IDhiker says:

        Wolf Moderate,

        Hey, I do own a Prius, but I don’t have any mansions or private jets. It does get 50 MPG, and with the current cost of gas, maybe you should consider getting one, too. I also have a Ford pickup, but it sits in the garage unless I really need it for something specific.

      • Savebears says:

        I have great empathy for animals, I also choose to hunt and provide the majority of my own meat, I don’t support the majority of the livestock industry, I do every once in a while have a beef steak. I don’t kill them because I enjoy the taste, I kill them because it is more economically feasible for me to do so, believe it or not, there are still quite a few people that can’t afford to shop at the local grocery store everyday, I don’t travel to hunt, I hunt within 5 miles of my home.

        I also grow my own vegetables during the season, we can our own fruits and vegetables, you would be hard pressed to find many commercial products in my pantry.

      • wolf moderate says:

        Not sure if having 2 vehicles is being more green than just having one gas guzzler. You should do a cost/benefit analysis on that…

      • IDhiker says:

        Well, the Ford in the garage ain’t guzzling gas while it sits there. But, true, it took resources to build it… but I purchased it some time ago, and since it’s already built, it’s too late on that one. I won’t be buying another.

        I’m just glad my Prius gas bill is small, unlike those with only a “gas guzzler.”

      • IDhiker says:


        I don’t want to stay in a debate with you over this (meat vs. non-meat). From your postings over time, I know you are a thoughtful person that considers what you do. Personally, I used to have a garden, but I found it’s a lot easier to go to the local “farmer’s market” for vegetables. The local Hmong growers have fabulous produce, and sell it very inexpensively.

        Regarding the Queen’s guard, I can’t figure out the English. All this about some people that the general populace has decided to consider important. But, without that consideration, they really mean nothing,

    • skyrim says:

      IDhiker, it is a good thing that you do. Your choices are wise and thoughtful and appreciated by many. Besides, these carnivores should see it as “just more meat for me”. Ah! The gluttony of it all…….. ^..^

    • Nancy says:

      ID, I agree with you – Inflicting suffering and terror on other creatures, for the brief pleasure of eating, just seemed a poor trade-off in personal ethics+ Unfortunately its a touchy subject for many, because few seldom see past the plastic wrapped trays displayed on grocery shelves.

      Too often we hear about the “hardships” livestock raisers go thru, but seldom do we hear about what that livestock endures at the hands of those raisers, from birth to shipment, to feedlot.

      • Savebears says:

        Personal Ethics are a Personal thing Nancy…..I don’t give a shit about the ranchers and have worked tirelessly to change the ranching practices in this country..but anyone that survives in this country consumes animal products whether they know it or not!

  9. skyrim says:

    I’ve never known a vegetarian that was threatened by the existence of carnivores. Seems to be a bit testy on the other side of that coin however.

    • Savebears says:


      That is bull…

    • Savebears says:


      I can’t tell you the number of times, I have been the recipient of derogatory comments in West Yellowstone, Gardiner and Cooke City, because I eat meat….it happens every single time I visit the area and has for over 20 years now..

      • skyrim says:

        Funny, I’ve spent considerable time in all 3 towns and I can’t say I found a vegetarian anywhere, or at least none that were brave enough to speak up about it. Damn sure none of ’em hanging around Helens in Gardiner. Menus in any of the eaterys sure don’t read like hangouts for those folks. Jus’ sayin’……….
        I don’t care what you eat Dude. Really!

      • Savebears says:

        See the key is Sky, I could care less what anyone eats, eat what you want and let those who choose a different path alone.. The only thing that got me in this thread was the accusation, that those who eat meat have less empathy, then those who don’t, which I find to be BS

      • IDhiker says:

        People will eat what they want. But to say that a person that kills and eats animals has as much empathy towards those same animals as a person that choses not to kill them, is a contradiction.

      • wolf moderate says:

        If it weren’t for me eating the deer and elk, they would just freeze to death or be eaten alive by predators. Consider it putting them out of there mysery. I am so compassionate!

      • Phil says:

        wolf moderate: I am not disrespecting you, but I laughed hard enough to give me a stomach ache when I read your comment.

        SB: Having a smaller estrous cycle and gestation period does give that species more breeds per year. What I was shocked is the estrous cycle of rats which is something like 4 days. By the 6th week a mother’s grandaughters are breeding young. Never really understood much of why and how certain species can have so much more young then others until I took a Vertebrate Zoology class. Man! That’s a lot of milk production.

      • Wolf Moderate says:

        It was meant to be funny….Sorta 🙂

      • Phil says:

        wolf moderate: That’s why I laughed. I did not want you to think I was laughing at the comment because I thought it was ridiculous.

    • Daniel Berg says:

      I’ve eaten meat all my life and couldn’t tell you the last time someone gave me a bad time about it. I also frequent some of the most liberal neighborhoods in the State of Washington.

      My fiance was a vegetarian when we first started dating. She was eventually corrupted by bacon, the candy of meats.

      • STG says:

        The discussion is getting too focused on vegetarian versus carnivore diet. Let’s lighten-up. The important thing is to eat quality meat or vegetables (organic/and/or locally produced, small-scale operations that are concerned about the welfare of their animals. If you can’t find a local producer or co-op go to a farmers’ market. There is a movement in this country in this direction and more and more communities (even urban) have farmers’ markets. Conventionally produced produce is not healthy for wildlife, streams and the environment in general because of the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides. Industrial produced animals are confined, abused and feed an unatural diet. Industrial pig farms are the worst! No one has the moral high-ground of this issue.

      • SEAK Mossback says:

        Unfortunately, bacon can be addictive. We used to buy a fair amount of it, the only meat we’ve bought in decades. However, we’ve given up on it in the past 5-6 years in part for health reasons and also from reading about hog operations. However, I still occasionally succumb at a breakfast buffet. We were able to get fairly close to replicating it from moose brisket, but haven’t gotten a moose in many years either and the potentially suitable part of a deer seems too small to bother with. We are backing off a little on even venison and diversifying more into fish, shellfish and birds. I got 3 blue grouse Sunday afternoon — great eating and probably the healthiest meat of all, because of all the calories burned climbing and snowshoeing. Also, eminently sustainable in our area — I saw snowshoe tracks on Sunday and thought they were from the first sign of competition I’d run across up there in 20 years, before realizing they were mine from the prior weekend . . . .

      • Daniel Berg says:


        I’ve had the same concerns about hog farms. I actually quit buying from them a couple of years ago. I’ve switched to a couple of farms local to my area. One farm in particular is located on Vashon Island, and the pigs spend a lot of time foraging. They use their own acreage, as well as that of other large landowners on the island who grant permission to set up moveable pens. It takes more work and costs me more, but I can obtain most of the meats I enjoy from local farms. When I can, I’ll even visit the farm and say hello.

        SEAK et al.,
        Any good recipes for grouse?

      • Elk275 says:

        SEAK Mossback

        The best bacon I every ate was at Alexandria Lake Lodge approximately 50 miles west of Anchorage in 1975. The lodge was founded and own by Ken Clark at that time. I was working on a small Shell Oil Company coal exportation crew.
        On rainy day the helicopter could not fly and the crew was hanging around the lodge, a small bear wandered on to the lodge’s grounds. Ken grabbed a rifle and ask me if I wanted to shot the bear. Bang. One dead bear.

        I took him and me twenty minutes to skin it out. Several days later at breakfast we had bear bacon. Ken had made bacon from the meat on the ribs. The meat was soaked in brine solution and smoked. It was and is the best bacon that I have ever eaten. Research some recipes, get a fat fall black bear that has been eating on blue berries and try making bear bacon. We had bear hams, bacon, ribs and chops, excellent eating.

      • SEAK Mossback says:

        Elk275 –
        Sounds great — I’ll keep that idea in mind. There are tons of black bears in this area, but they’re likely to be eating mostly fish in the fall here so am not too excited about eating one then. I have never hunted bears myself but helped my son get a large black bear one May. It was very good — we even rendered the fat. Wish I had thought about bacon at the time . . .

        Daniel —
        We cook hooters (local term here for blue grouse) mostly either of two ways. One way is baked in a deep skillet with a lid after covering with some ground ginger and soy sauce. The other is what we call “beer can hooter” that I think originated somewhere as “beer can chicken” which used to entail basting the bird, putting an open can of beer into the body cavity and roasting it with the can standing upright on a barbecue grill (or the oven works OK). They come off with the meat very moist and tender that way — steamed from inside. I had some reservations about potential toxins from heating a beer can so quickly switched to a couple of stainless steel holders made for the same purpose with a more stable base. You can use beer but water or wine work fine. Our blue grouse are large birds and one feeds two of us with left-overs for lunch the next day. In some years, we even cook up a couple instead of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

        I believe they are a different subspecies (referred by by some as dusky grouse) than those in the Rockies where I saw many in the fall but don’t ever remember hearing any hoot in the spring. These ones are very loud — can be heard for miles — and a whole mountain-side of them just roars. They are easy to locate generally but usually sit near the trunk and near the top of the tallest spruce in a local area. That and the fact that they are great ventriloquists — difficult to pinpoint by sound — makes it challenging to find a window though which you can spot them. I often run into birds of prey, goshawks and bald eagles, cruising around searching the same tree — so the hooters usually don’t stand right out in the open. A lot of circling and searching with binoculars and giving up on some and moving on. Then when you do spot one, they suddenly appear huge. It calls for a very accurate scoped .22 (I use mostly subsonic target ammunition). Most are in big trees up to 200 feet or so, often beyond effective shotgun range.

      • Daniel Berg says:


        Thanks for the information. I’m thinking about doing a little grouse hunting next fall.

  10. Immer Treue says:

    Back to babies… Are there any large mammals that have the potential to breed year round like humans? It would be interesting to find when in our evolutionary history we escaped the cycle of estrus once a year to coincide with Spring births, instead of the once every 28 days.

  11. Phil says:

    SB: Correct me if I am wrong, but size is one of the biggest factors correlated to estrous, gestation and breeding, right?

  12. Nancy says:

    +Conventionally produced produce is not healthy for wildlife, streams and the environment in general because of the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides+

    And lets not forget the tons of steroids and antibiotics (and who knows what else) pumped into a vast majority of “conventionally produced” meat products to make them “safe” while waiting in the wings, before and after making their way to your dinner table. Toss this into the mix:


    Yeah…….buying local is better and going “meatless” is even better.

  13. Nancy says:

    Savebears Says:
    April 25, 2011 at 1:14 PM
    You really want to take on an issue that is bigger than anyone imagines, take on the Queen of England, I was watching a special about the upcoming royal wedding! Guess what the queens guard all where that funny looking black hat, do you realize it takes one black bear to make each hat, there are over 500 in the queens guard, and they make new hats for each new guard, each guard owns 3 hats! so at a minimum that is 1500 bears walking down the road at any given time to fulfill the dress uniform of the queens guard!

    SB – What do you think a minute of air time is gonna go for here in the states, during that big event?


April 2011


‎"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

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