This is a very good overview by Vickery Eckhoff on how wealthy Americans enjoy the largess of the American taxpayer by grazing at subsidized rates on public lands. The welfare does not just include low grazing fees, but many other services provided by the government like predator control, weed control (created by livestock grazing  in the first place) etc, not to mention the cost of ameliorating the negative impacts of livestock  on water, plant communities, and wildlife.

One note though Ted Turner is included in this list, and certainly is one of the largest land owners in the United States, and no doubt has some public lands allotments controlled by his private ranch holdings, he should not be considered among the “welfare ranchers”. He has done more to further endangered species recovery, bison restoration, and conservation goals in general than any other individual.  He rightly deserves to be praised for his actions. He should not be included among the same bad characters as the Koch Brothers or Cliven Bundy.


America’s .01 percent like the Kochs and the Hiltons are collecting massive subsidies from the federal government.

By Vickery Eckhoff / AlterNet

March 24, 2015

Americans love ranchers: Gritty ranchers, mom-and-pop ranchers, renegade ranchers — especially those who raise livestock on the vast open prairies of the West through a mixture of hard work and rugged independence. But there’s another side to the ever-popular rancher mythology— a side the media doesn’t cover and the public never sees. The Koch brothers, Ted Turner, the Hilton family and nine other powerful ranchers share an uncommon privilege: giant public subsidies, unknown to U.S. taxpayers.

It’s the other side of the Cliven Bundy story, the other side of the Wright brothers saga—the bronc-riding, ranching family at the center of the New York Times photographic essay published this March.

That “other side” of those stories is the federal grazing program that enables the Wrights to run their livestock on public lands for cheap; allows ranchers to have thousands of protected wild horses removed from public lands at public expense. It’s also the program that earned Cliven Bundy the title of “welfare rancher.”

Bundy didn’t earn it by failing to pay his grazing fees. The welfare rancher label applies to all ranchers who hold permits to graze the vast public spaces of the West, both delinquent and not. It includes the Wright brothers; the ranchers in Iron and Beaver counties in Utah complaining that wild horses eat too much; and 21,000 others.

They are all welfare ranchers subsidized by US taxpayers, and you know who are the biggest welfare ranchers of all, grazing livestock on the hundreds of millions of acres of public grass and forest land, all assisted by public subsidies paid for by US taxpayers?

Billionaires that populate Forbes rich lists.

The .01 percenters. They are the nation’s biggest welfare ranchers, according to numerous environmental and policy groups; and it’s time they brought some attention to themselves, and the federal grazing program they’re exploiting to waste as much as $1 billion a year of taxpayer money while causing long-term damage to one of the public’s most treasured assets.

Fifteen years ago, two percent of public lands ranchers controlled fifty percent of permitted grazing acreage, according to John Horning of WildEarth Guardians.

Today, Horning says, that elite group of mega-rich owners has consolidated its hold on federal grazing property even further through grazing leases attached to the larger-than life ranches they inherit or buy outright.

Along with that comes all kinds of perks paid for by taxpayers: the USDA’s wildlife services, which killed four million endangered and predator species in 2013 to help livestock operators. The costly and wildly ineffective Wild Horses and Burros Program which operates to the benefit of welfare ranchers. Numerous programs that work to undo the grazing damage that welfare livestock causes. And let’s not forget the bank loans that an estimated 45% of public lands ranchers obtain, using their grazing leases as collateral, and which heighten the value of their primary ranching property.

Only 2.7 percent of the nation’s ranchers hold such leases. That’s a lot of costly benefits flowing to a small segment of the livestock industry. That two percent of them hold more than fifty percent of the acreage under that program? Never mind that two of the recipients love to attack all welfare programs that benefit the bottom tier of the economic pyramid. It’s the antithesis of rugged independence. It’s undemocratic, too.

Their faces are absent from rancher stories. Some of that is media laziness. The other part is inconvenience. It takes a lot of digging to identify any public lands ranchers with precision. Why? Because the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service (which administer most federal grazing leases) have record-keeping systems that are the antithesis of transparent. There is no central database. Finding out who’s doing what on federal lands requires identifying all the various LLCs that ranchers establish to hide who they are, then tracking down leases in 10 Western states.

The BLM, for its part, isn’t eager to help. Call any BLM specialist and identify yourself as media, and they send you to a media representative. Most I reached out to didn’t return phone calls—not promptly, anyway. You want sensitive information? You’ll be stuck sending out Freedom of Information Act requests. I sent one in last April. It’s still outstanding.

Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News, in 1999, spent nine months collecting information on 26,000 grazing leases in order to write a comprehensive article (“Cash Cows”) on the money pit that was the federal grazing program at that time. Many of the same players then are still in the game, but the process of keeping tabs using real records is so arduous that no environmental groups do it.

The way I came up with the names in list of 12 ranchers below was by interviewing multiple groups that work to reform public lands grazing and cross-checking names against news reports online. The estimates provided of leased acreage were provided by Jon Marvel, founder of Western Watersheds Project. Net worth figures and list rankings come from Forbes; the rankings of richest land owners from the Land Report 100. 

It’s not an exact science, but one thing is clear: the public is being lulled by stories about bronc riders like the Wright brothers and outliers like Cliven Bundy while ignoring the big picture: a handful of cattle rustlers—rich ones—whose hands are deep in the public’s pockets, along with all the other smaller permittees.

And that’s what the new West is like. It’s still rough and tumble. But if you don’t have a big-ass ranch, a huge fortune and public assistance, you’d best just head for the hills.

Some of America’s biggest welfare ranchers:

David and Charles Koch (Koch Industries)

The brothers hold a half-dozen grazing permits on public land in Montana to go with its 300,000-acre Matador Ranch there. The brothers are tied for fourth place on Forbes 2014 400 Richest People in America list (net worth: $ 42 billion each). The Koch family ($ 89 billion) is #2 on Forbes Richest Families list; Koch Industries is #2 on Forbes America’s Largest Private Companies list, ($ 115 billion in sales).

J.R. Simplot Corp.

The largest U.S. public lands ranching entity (with an estimated 2 to 3 million acres of allotments in CA, ID, NV, OR and UT) is #63 on Forbes 2014 list of America’s Largest Private Companies ($ 5.8 billion in sales). In 2014, the family was #29 on Forbes list of America’s Richest Families (net worth: $ 8 billion).

Bruce McCaw (McCaw Cellular)

McCaw was #382 on Forbes 400 list of America’s Richest People in 2005 (net worth: $ 925 million). Through his 9 sprawling ranches, he controls a significant number of public grazing leases in ID and possibly NV. One of them (Camas Creek ranch) includes 272,000 acres of Federal grazing allotments in Idaho’s Camas Prairie. Grazing permitted to his other ranches could easily double or triple that to a million acres or more.

Barrick Gold

The Canadian mining company is one of the two largest public lands ranchers in NV, ranking 771st on Forbes Global 2000 list of the World’s Biggest Public Companies in 2014, (sales: $ 12.56 billion). Like many other large public lands ranchers, Barrick buys ranches to secure water rights.

Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)

The supplier of drinking water to Las Vegas is a large NV public lands rancher with an estimated 1 million acres of public grazing allotments. Like Barrick Gold, it, buys up private ranches to gain their water rights.

  1. Barron Hilton (Hilton Hotels)

The hotel heir dropped off Forbes Billionaires list (ranked #459 in 2011) as well as its list of the 400 Richest Americans (#144 in 2010), with a net worth of $ 2.5 billion. He died in 2013.

Though records are hard to pin down, Hilton’s heirs inherited a ranching operation in the CA-NV border area, which has been known to have vast public lands grazing allotments permitted to it.

Mary Hewlett-Jaffe (Hewlett-Packard)

Jaffe holds the largest BLM public lands grazing permit in central ID and is among the top 15 public lands ranchers in the state (estimated at under 200,000 acres that are said to be in extremely degraded condition, according to sources).

James Barta (

Barta is not on any Forbes rich lists, but owns one of the largest cattle ranching operations in the U.S., according to his attorneys. Barta holds grazing permits to nearly 900,000 acres of public grazing allotments in connection with two properties: White Horse Ranch (in OR) and Soldier Meadows (in NV). Barta may have additional NV grazing leases through two other ranches in NV, according to Jon Marvel, founder of Western Watersheds Project.

  1. Wright Dickinson

Though not on any Forbes list, the Dickinson family is a large public lands rancher, with  grazing permits estimated at more than a half million acres of CO, UT and WY public lands under its LLC, Vermillion Ranches. Dickinson is a former County commissioner and proponent of county efforts to gain control of federal lands, according to the Denver Post.

Stan Kroenke (Kroenke Group) & Ann Walton Kroenke (Walmart)

With just two of his ranches (in MT and WY) totaling 664,000 acres (not including public grazing allotments), Kroenke is one of the ten top land owners in the U.S. In 2014, he ranked #89 on Forbes list of the 400 Richest Americans, #247 on its Billionaires list, and #5 on its list of Richest American Sports Team Owners (net worth: $ 5.8 billion). His wife, Ann Walton Kroenke (net worth: $ 5.6 billion), was #261 on Forbes Billionaires list and #11 on its list of America’s Richest Women.

Family of Robert Earl Holding (Sinclair Oil and hotels)

Forbes ranks the family #87 on its 2014 list of America’s Richest Families (net worth: $ 2.7 billion). With 400,000 acres of land, the family is the 19th largest private land owner in the US, according to the 2014 Land Report 100. This includes land that Forbes reported “may be the largest ranching operation in the Rocky Mountains.” Public grazing leases are associated with some of the family’s WY and possibly MT holdings, according to Jon Marvel, founder of Western Watersheds.

Ted Turner

He’s the second largest U.S. land owner (2 million acres in 6 states), is estimated to hold grazing leases in MT and NM (estimated at as much as 300,000 acres), and owns the world’s largest bison herd. Forbes ranked him #296 on its 2014 list of the 400 Richest Americans and #818 on its global Billionaires list (net worth: $ 2.2 billion).

This article was originally published on The Daily Pitchfork.

About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

88 Responses to America’s billionaires among welfare ranchers

  1. skyrim says:

    This entire grazing issue is suddenly much clearer to many of us now. Unfortunately these same entities own large pieces of the media, who would have to lead the charge for reform. Revolutionaries unite! (If there is such a thing anymore). Oh, that’s right, we’re now calling them terrorists…..

  2. Gary Humbard says:

    I’m a little confused. The San Jose Mercury News, in 1999 article wrote “The top 10 percent of grazing-permit holders control a striking 65 percent of all livestock on BLM property, federal records show”. and “Similarly, on national forests, the top 10 percent control 49 percent of the livestock. Many of the largest are grazing associations in the Dakotas, Wyoming and Colorado, made up of family ranchers”.

    This article seems to indicate that big corporations own the majority of grazing permits but according to the Cash Cows article, family ranchers do.

    There is no doubt the AUM fee needs to be re-appraised using private land grazing costs for comparison. In addition, ranchers should reimburse Wildlife Services 100% and pay for any infrastructure costs to protect the environment.

    As for wild horse and burro removal, I know most of you will not agree but after reading numerous books (both pro and con wild horse) on the subject, the BLM removes a portion of these animals each year for the health of the animals and the landscape. Does it benefit ranchers, of course, but if they didn’t, there would be a lot of wild horses dying a miserable death and is that what we want?

    • Marc Bedner says:

      I can see how one might infer that the super-rich own a majority of grazing permits, but interestingly, the article doesn’t actually say that. For example, while the Koch Brothers are well known for their extreme wealth, the article identifies their holdings in Montana as “a half-dozen grazing permits on public land in Montana to go with its 300,000-acre Matador Ranch there.” Their Koch brothers connection ranching subsidies is a bit vague. They are a primary force behind the Cato Institute, which has come out against the system of agricultural subsidies, though they don’t focus specifically on grazing fees.

      I’ve never been an advocate of blaming all evil on the Koch Brothers, particularly when it comes to Montana. They failed to unseat Sen. Tester, whose work on behalf of the non-Koch ranchers in Montana has resulted in the end of endangered species protection for the grey wolf.

      Eckhoff’s entire series on public lands ranching in the Daily Pitchfork (the site she runs with James McWilliams) is well worth reading and spreading the word about. The political influence of public lands ranchers extends well beyond the .01%

    • Lisa LeBlanc says:

      I’m probably gonna take it the shorts for this, but…

      I’m a wild equine advocate, and one of the biggest issues ‘we’ face is trying to convince the non-equine Public that wild horses and burros are indeed wild animals. They live a nomadic life on the razor’s edge every day. They have infants that may never take their first breath, and old ones living toothless and arthritic. They hurt each other as much as they care for each other, and those conflicts can range from gaping wounds to broken legs and jaws.
      These are wild animals; because of their extraordinary beauty and domestic counterparts, people want to afford them the same comforts given to horses owned by someone.
      It’s grievous when any wild animals experience die off, but it’s part and parcel of being wild. It’s what keeps animal populations level with what the land can support, and their genetics strong.
      An example: Last year, some advocates observed a sorrel filly, just a few months old, wandering with no family. She was adopted by an old bachelor stallion, who could protect her, but not feed her. People began clamoring for someone to swoop in and save her, reacting only to the idea of a helpless infant, and not a natural process. If she were to die, it was Nature’s way. If she survived, she would pass on that experience and knowledge to her foals and herd mates.
      She lives.
      No; I don’t want to see them die a miserable death. But I would want to see the survivors carry on, rather than merely exist in a feed lot for the rest of their lives.

  3. Ed Loosli says:

    About wild horses; I am sure you know that the problem of over-grazing is caused by cattle being allowed in the designated wild horse ranges. If no private domestic livestock were permitted on what is supposed to be wild horse range, then there could be many more wild horses running free, before adoptions are necessary.

    • rork says:

      “which killed four million endangered and predator species in 2013”
      Were starling, sparrows, and pigeons counted as endangered or predators? Since they made up 87% of that total, I wanted to ask. I very much favor reduced public grazing, and am much more radical than that even (tax cows), but manufacturing fake facts is not good.

      • rork says:

        Did not mean that as a reply to Ed. Hope we don’t return to random comment sorting.

    • rork says:

      I think if we had asked National Academy to freely tell us what to do about wild horses and burros they would have made my recommendation: do not permit such animals on the landscape. We have enough owned by humans already, and don’t need feral ones, same as with pigs, dogs, cats, and mute swans. Wild horse suffering would cease in North America if none existed.

      • Mark L says:

        “Wild horse suffering would cease in North America if none existed.”

        Ouch. Is it better to have some (or even most) suffer and still carry on here or just not have any wild horses/burros in NA? Tough question, with a lot of implications on speciesism too.

        • mikepost says:

          An invasive species is an invasive species regardless of how cute and cuddly many may think they are (and if you have ever met a real “wild” horse in the wild, they are definately not cuddly or friendly). Now if we could just get some wolves on that wild horse country we could vastly improve things….

          • Ed Loosli says:

            The modern horse evolved in North America and spread into Asia and Europe. They were hunted out by early man, drought & predators in North America and were finally returned to North America by the Spaniards in the 1500s and 1600s. The wild horses of today are indeed native by geneology. It is the domestic cattle that must be removed from our public lands, especially those designated by law for wild horses.

          • Nancy says:

            Dated but good read, Mikepost:

            “You think of the mustangs as pests or varmints, an invasive species that needs to be eliminated from public lands so there will be more than enough water and forage for the rightful end-users of the public range — cows”


            Who by the way, are an IVASIVE SPECIES that have no claim, what so ever, to the landscape, other than another invasive species, dragging them in, when they settled this continent 🙂


            It’s so fricken complicated 🙂

            • Marc Bedner says:

              You may have meant the reference to “white people” as a joke, but it is people, Homo sapiens, who are the most destructive invasive species. As Ed pointed out, horses were here before the invasion of Homo sapiens.

          • Yvette says:

            Invasive species isn’t the correct terminology for wild horses on this continent, IMO. They’ve been here 500 years, so I think they’ve naturalized. Besides, they were preceded other equine species that had gone extinct, right?

            I think people need to get off of the ‘invasive’ species moniker for wild horses.

            • rork says:

              Invasive is as invasive does. We freely call deer invasive in Michigan. If you let them be invasive, they will be. They don’t have to be, though – near me lots need to be killed to insure that though.
              Feral pigs have been here for about 500 years I’ll bet. Willing to defend them?

              • Ida Lupines says:

                I would defend humane treatment/’management’ of any living thing regardless of when they arrived here. We’re responsible for bringing a lot of invasives here and IMO it is taking the easy and also immoral) way out to just kill everything off!

                The number of cattle is directly proportional to the number of humans. Of course we can do with a lot less cattle on our lands, there are way more cattle than horses and they do a lot more damage to the landscape than horses, which everyone convieniently ignores. (See report from NAS and others). Government land management/tax breaks, subsidies etc. of ranching and the energy industry should reflect modern times. I hate to see one criticized without the other. Certainly billionaires should not be receiving gov’t assistance!

                (I’m not replying directly to you rork, it’s just that something is wrong with the way I can reply.)

              • Mark L says:

                Try to defend feral pigs? Maybe they are just assuming the niche left historically by peccary (either Macrogenis or Floridachoerus) in North America. A lot like arguing for feral horses in a different way. Heck, I’d support more ‘feral’ cattle too as it seems over time they’d be healthier for consumption by humans (there’s my speciesism coming out). Aside from disease issues, they’d be leaner and more like aurochs over time given a predator that coarses and 1 that ambushes.

              • Yvette says:

                I don’t see the wild horses as invasive. While they may be overpopulated is that because they are invasive or is it because we humans have settled and developed most of land, therefore leaving less habitat for them and other species?

                It made me think of a couple of common quotes about weeds.

                “A weed is just a flower in the wrong place”. Switch horse for weed, and flower for animal and we’re talking about the same thing.

                He who hunts for flowers will find flowers; and he who loves weeds will find weeds. ~Henry Ward Beecher

                A man’s nature runs either to herbs, or to weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other. ~Francis Bacon

                A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. ~Doug Larson

                Again, all we need to do is replace ‘weeds’ with wild horses (or wolves or any other animal we humans battle with).

                I still believe naturalized is a more appropriate term to describe our wild horses. They have survived, and I’m glad.

                • Ida Lupines says:

                  Very nice post, Yvette. I personally don’t consider our wild horses to be invasives either – but important to our country’s history. What would it be like without them?

        • Ida Lupines says:

          I do not get that ‘logic’ either. It certainly doesn’t erase the suffering that we caused.

          It is shocking to me that laws to protect our wild horses are outright ignored, as well as the science.

          • Yvette says:

            Ida, I was 11 the first summer I spent in Montana. That was the summer I got my first exposure to wild horses on the Northern Cheyenne reservation. The sound of this herd of horses running across those high plains was captivating, and to see the dust stirred It is something a kid never forgets. The rez back in those days was nearly like stepping back in time, and the sight and sound of those wild horses made it even more so.

            Technically, I suppose wild horses are ‘invasive’, (note JB’s comment below), but if so, then most all of us on this continent are ‘invasive’. Depending on which anthropology/archeology camp one ascribes to none of us evolved here on this continent. If one believes the tired and old ‘land bridge’ hypothesis then we all migrated here, but the land bridge hypothesis is coming apart at the seams.

            I think the terminology of ‘invasive’ is mostly political with the wild horses and burros. I also think it’s a weak argument to try and say they evolved from the equines that were here during the pleistocene. I’m not well versed in wild horses, so I’ll leave it at that. To me, they are naturalized and they damn sure belong here. At some point we have to draw a line on the invasive vs. native arguments. They have naturalized, and just maybe, we’re witnessing evolution in action.

            • Ida Lupines says:

              Yes. Wow, what an experience you had. It’s scary to me that some can be so matter-of-fact about wiping them, and other wildlife they don’t like, out permanently. What they would be replaced with is even scarier.

      • JB says:

        I agree, Rork–But it would tick me off if wild horses were removed, only to be replaced by some schmuck’s cows.

        • Ed Loosli says:

          In case you haven’t noticed, wild horses are being replaced by some schmuck’s cows….At a ratio of about 100 cows for every wild horse.

          • JB says:


            You must have missed these key messages from the National Academies’ report:

            “The majority of free-ranging horse populations on public rangelands in the western United States are growing 15 to 20 percent a year. The committee reviewed the ages of horses removed from the range during the years 1989 to 2011 and found that these data can provide a reasonable assessment of the general growth rate of the horse populations. That growth rate was supported by the published literature the committee reviewed.”


            “…BLM’s reported annual population statistics, which are based on the assumption that all animals are detected and counted, probably underestimate the actual number of animals on the range.”



            And you might also be interested in this:

            “Over the last 100 years the absolute numbers of livestock have increased in the West and the U.S. as a whole, in order to meet growing demands due to growth in the U.S. population. Over the same period, grazing on public lands has declined.


            • Ed Loosli says:

              Are you disputing that for every 100 of “Schmuck’s cows” being subsidized to graze on our public lands, there is 1 wild horse?? Wild horses are not the problem – cows are. There should be no cows allowed to graze on public lands officially designated as wild-horse range. period.

            • Ida Lupines says:

              Grazing may be declining, but energy development (of all kinds) is not? I think the energy industry wants to ‘get rid of’ wild horses too, and they may be even more powerful in influence than ranchers? Just asking. Horses may be growing in number, but who says that is too much but us (who already have the lion’s share of just about everything)?

              I no longer can separate who is responsible for the taking over and development of our public lands – it’s all damaging.

              • Ida Lupines says:

                It does seem like wild horses are unfairly picked on and scapegoated as are wolves and coyotes – someone mentioned feral pigs, but they are tolerated because people like to hunt them (for sport and as a food source); cattle, because they are a food source.

                We don’t have a use for nor admire intangibles like beauty and emblematic freedom, at least not anymore.

                • Ida Lupines says:

                  I thought the gist of the NAS report was that the BLM is not ‘managing’ the public lands nor wild horses in the best or most humane way, nor taking into account grazing (whether it has decrease or not) when assessing damage to the lands?

                  Sally Jewell had said she was waiting for this report, and yet has not made any decisions as far as I am aware of. She’s the MIA Interior Secretary, who only appears when there’ a national monument dedication (usually to human activity) to be made. Here she is teaming up with Monsanto:


                  Which is all fine and dandy, but I’ve yet to see her support or even have an opinion on preservation of wildlife and wildlands by themselves, for their own value, without taking human needs into account first. In this way I do think she is one of our worst interior secretaries.

          • JB says:

            So to summarize (using your cavalier approach to numbers), it appears that you are 100% wrong.

  4. Yvette says:

    That is a lot to take in and I will need to read the full article later. It’s mind boggling to think about how the various federal agencies are interconnected to the money that runs America. The rancher image and the image of Western America is the epitome of what is American. It’s that big fat American dream. It’s an illusion. It’s always been an illusion. We’re ruled by oligarchs and we’ve always been ruled by oligarchs.

    Once again, I thought of Mary and Carrie Dann. This also made me think of Langston Hughe’s poem, ‘Let America be America Again’. Even if you aren’t into poetry you should read it because he capture the nuances of the real America. Amazing how timeless this poem.

    I’d ask where is America’s Hugo Chavez or Evo Morales to kick the oligarchs off the free land, but that will never happen in America. We get Ted Cruz and Barack Obama.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      There has always been a landed right-wing would be oligarch in the United States, but I don’t think they have always ruled. It is more of a recent thing,IMO.

  5. mikepost says:

    Lets be clear about “invasive species”. The fact the horse was once here is moot. The issue is that the current eco-system evolved without the horse in North America…and yes, that applies to cattle as well. So any species that was not part of the post glacial evolution of our eco-systems can be considered invasive, because they disrupt the natural balance of the system and impact native species that have not evolved to respond to them.

    So, if you defend invasive wild horses, you should also be defending invasive european cattle…and if you demand the removal of one, you should be demanding the removal of both…what a thought…

    • Ed Loosli says:

      Just the opposite actually — The current eco-system in what is now the western United States evolved with horses as a prime grazer as modern horses were here after the last ice-age along with humans.

      • JB says:


        Where are you getting your information? Horses went extinct in NA at the end of the pleistocene (about 12,000 years ago). The end of the glacial period necessarily marked a tremendous change in the climate of NA. In fact, climate change is one of the two leading hypotheses for explaining the massive loss of megafauna in NA that occurred about this time.

        The horses that were introduced to NA by the Spanish were decedents of Iberian horses that have been domesticated for 4-6 thousand years. That’s thousands of years of selective breeding to suit human purposes.

        Equating the domesticated Spanish breeds to the their long-dead, wild ancestors is akin to arguing that domestic dogs are the same as wolves.

        • WM says:

          Ed, Yvette, and All,

          Not to start a dog pile, but those 12,000 year old predators of horses went extinct, as well. I gather the primary one was the American Cheetah, which also preyed on pronghorns (still here as we know). So, what is to be an effective predator of the more modern once domesticated and now feral (and considerably larger I think) wild horse imported from Europe five hundred years ago? Without their complement of predators they are invasive, displacing other wildlife (yeah, I get the cow part too, and they are invasive as well, though don’t fare so well with a multitude of current predators and bad weather). Make no mistake horses were prey for something. That is why they have eyes on the sides of their heads, and not in front, and tend to herd up for safety.

          Our feral wild horses, offspring of stock brought over from Europe, and those wild burros too, which all belonged to someone at some time and had been bred and domesticated for specific purposes (you think there isn’t some old plow horse/jousting horse/Arabian/dapple Irish jumper DNA in some of those wild ones scattered across the West? Collectively, they are an invasive species, just as are feral dogs, cats and hogs of multiple breeds are becoming in some locations where their numbers are allowed to increase.

          Same is true of ornamental kudzu, English ivy, and Scotch broom. And of course European starlings, Asian carp, snakeheads and zebra mussels were all “introduced” intentionally or accidentally, but it still makes them “invasive.”

          So, after another couple hundred years, Yvette, do you suppose the Australians will call African cane toads, “naturalized?”

          • Ed Loosli says:

            You seem to be confusing horse “breeds” for the “species” itself Equus caballus.


            “The fact that horses were domesticated before they were reintroduced to North America matters little from a biological viewpoint. They are the same species that originated in North America, and whether or not they were domesticated is quite irrelevant. Domestication altered little biology, and we can see that in the phenomenon called ‘going wild,’ where wild horses revert to ancient behavioral patterns.
            The key element in describing an animal as a native species is (1) where it originated; and (2) whether or not it co‐evolved with its habitat. Clearly, E. caballus did both. Here in North America there might be arguments about “breeds,” but there are no scientific grounds for arguments about “species” E. caballus.
            The non‐native, feral, and exotic designations given by agencies are not merely reflections of their failure to understand modern science but also a reflection of their desire to preserve old ways of thinking to keep alive the conflict between a species (wild horses), with no economic value anymore (by law), and the economic value of commercial livestock.”

            • Nancy says:

              + 1 Ed.

            • Ida Lupines says:

              I don’t know why some just cannot get this. They don’t want to, I guess. How many papers have to be linked before they do?

            • WM says:


              No, I am not confusing breed for species. The point I was hoping (apparently hopelessly with you) is one of size of the current wild horse and lack of predators with adequate size and speed to prey on our “reintroduced” invasive species (or rather collection of specific DNA denoting breed). Sort of like the larger feral dog does better than the tea cup poodle in the wild, if you get the picture.

              When something has been off the landscape for 12,000 years or even 6,000 years it is, IMHO, a real stretch to use some convoluted argument to say it now belongs because it was once here, while its predators are not, and the ecosystems have undergone signficiant change.

              Of course, the source you cite is work done by a couple horse advocates, making their pitch.

              And, interestingly the law that makes all this possible for us to discuss protection of wild horses doesn’t even mention this earlier time of the horse, only its relatively importance grounded in recent history of the West, and utility as a …guess what(?)…DOMESTICATED ANIMAL.

              ++That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene…++

              Well, I guess they aren’t really disappearing, these days, eh? All BLM knows is that they have too many, not enough places to put their expanding numbers and it costs a lot to keep the population from increasing even faster than it is, and a lot to maintain at increasing taxpayer expense.

              • Ida Lupines says:

                Yeah but….

                Why are the predators no longer here? They are – but we keep trying to kill them off too.

                The NAS report has said that there are better ways of controlling populations such as with birth control (also less expensive for the taxpayers than the current mess), and that for 30 years the BLM has ignored it, stubbornly persisting with a program that the NAS report says actually contributes to high populations.

                We know best, I guess, how to (micro)manage everything on the planet. We’re doing a great job so far, aren’t we.

                • Ida Lupines says:

                  Actually, we can’t blame the BLM entirely – something is tying their hands. Otherwise, how could Mr. Bundy go on for so long, 20 years? Just shooting a couple of his cattle and calling it a day isn’t much. Still waiting for that too…..what a joke.

                • Mark L says:

                  mountain lions/cougars do a decent job of ambushing horses that stay close to brush, as did the jaguar. A coarsing predator (say wolves?) would be needed to drive them towards occassional cover. In the end, nobody should get a free ride…even wild horses and cattle.

                • Ida Lupines says:

                  That’s nature’s design – predator and prey. Works pretty well until humans muck up the works.

              • JB says:

                WM has the right of it, but he’s understated his case. The smaller horses that existed in North America during the late Pleistocene shared space with dire wolves, Smilodon (saber-toothed cats), short-faced bears, American lion, and a variety of other large predators (including those more familiar today).

                Moreover, all these species went extinct near the end of a long glacial period–meaning it lived in NA at a time when the temperature was much cooler.

                Finally, again, several thousand years of domestication might be easily shrugged off by a couple of horse advocates– but you can bet it would not be dismissed so lightly by ecologists. The source Ed cites suggest domestication doesn’t matter because they are the same species. Well, again, wolves and dogs are the same species as well (C. lupus, C. lupus domesticus)–how well do you think beagles would do as a surrogate for wolves? And the idea that there were no significant morphological changes is, pardon my French (and the pun), horse sh|t. Other research has documented morphological changes in horses associated with domestication.

                • Mark L says:

                  Also, as a reminder jaguars and cougars (panthers) were removed from the south just centuries or even decades ago, not millenia.
                  Just as important are the ecological roles played by animals. There’s a speciesist game of ‘who’s invasive and who’s not?’ going on here that doesn’t address the niches that are filled by animals in an ecosystem. Non-indigenous animals CAN fill niches that have been unnaturally opened by humans. Not perfectly…and there ahve been tragic results especially on islands, but they can do it in some circumstances.

                • Mark L says:

                  Also, to JB’s comment beagles ARE effectively being surrogate wolves in the southeast in some minimal way as the coyotes here are a mix of red wolf, coyote and dog, with the dog part being any number of breeds that get loose to breed with coyotes. They do fill a niche very close to what red wolves were doing centuries ago.

                • JB says:


                  I wholeheartedly agree with you about non-natives filling ecological niches. The issue here is you have a species that was absent during 12,000 years of pretty extensive ecological change, which is then reintroduced in domestic form. The ecology of these areas changed after the glacial period–these systems evolved for 10-15,000 years without the NA megafauna that had been in place. So the issue is, there is no unoccupied ecological niche here that horses (wild or otherwise) are needed to fill. Moreover, we lack effective biological controls (predation) in most of these areas due to extinctions of predators.

                  On your second point, I’m afraid we’ll have to disagree. Suggesting that “beagles ARE effectively being surrogate wolves” is extremely disingenuous in my opinion. The coyotes you speak of are…well, mostly coyotes. And the analogy doesn’t work–these “wild horses” are not hybrids of the original wild horses that existed in NA with domestic horses–they are simply domestic horses gone feral.

      • mikepost says:

        Ed, stop smoking that stuff….you are way off base here…

  6. Ida Lupines says:

    Here’s a terrific article from The Atlantic after the report came out:

    Perhaps the most glaring omission from the Report was the NAS’s failure to address in any great detail the BLM’s abject failure to abide by the recommendations of scientists 30 years ago — in 1982 — when they issued a similar report about the Bureau’s failure to base its policy choices upon hard science. At that time, for example, the NSA concluded that: “Forage use by wild equids remains a small fraction of the total forage use by domestic animals on western public ranges, regardless of whether the actual number of equids is in accord with the censuses or somewhat higher.” (emphasis mine oh mine) The BLM has ignored that conclusion for decades.

    Still waiting…..

    • rork says:

      So cows or sheep that are raised for food are a bigger problem for the land than horses. This does not make feral horses good. Just so, quacks with treatments not based on evidence often criticize science-based medicine’s flaws, hoping that this will be mistaken as an argument that their woo is better.
      The horse and burro act is the cause of the problem. If science folks could call the shots the solution is rather simple. Instead we ask them to say how to do a stupid thing in a less stupid way.

      • Ida Lupines says:

        The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 was created because the American public wants a legacy of the wild horses. Science can help do that, it is their job to advise, but science does not call the shots. The American public does. Whether some people think it is a ‘stupid idea’ or not, is irrelevant. We arrogant humans have done much more to wreck the landscape.

        • Ida Lupines says:

          Horses helped build this country, represent our freedom, and very many people admire and respect that. I’m dismayed that people don’t seem to appreciate that anymore, just keep building monuments to ourselves and the also to the mistakes that we made in the past (and keep on making). We have no respect for life anymore, no depth, no passion. Everything is superficial and a big joke.

          I love cats and dogs, but there are millions and millions of them in this country, so many millions that they are inhumanely destroyed every year. Yet we only hear about horses, because we all know that they are in the way of energy development and to a lesser extent, ranching.

          The NAS didn’t say the law was a stupid thing, only that the BLM is going about it ineffectively, and we all know why.

          • WM says:

            ++The NAS didn’t say the law was a stupid thing, only that the BLM is going about it ineffectively, and we all know why.++

            Afraid I don’t know why, please tell us.

            And, while you are at it, you also say “we have no respect for life, anymore,” while cats and dogs are killed by the millions. What is your solution for those unwanted (cats, dogs …and horses), and do please be specific?

            • Yvette says:

              “What is your solution for those unwanted (cats, dogs …and horses), and do please be specific?”

              I’m not Ida, but if you don’t mind, I’ll respond.

              There will be no perfect solution, but there can be a significant improvement.

              1. Encourage more state and local low cost spay and neuter clinics for low to moderate income families. We have one in OK. It’s a non-profit. There are thousands of of lives saved by this non-profit because of their low cost spay and neuter + basic vaccinations.

              2. Review state laws on dog and cat breeding operations. Amend laws where necessary. There is no way I can provide examples, but I think we can agree that the puppy and kitten mills need to be outlawed. Breed specific breeders need to be scrutinized to protect the animals. There should be no breeding ‘bitches’ that have litter after litter.

              3. TNR! Trap, neuter, and spay. It works. Take care of community cats. TNR. It is absolutely nonsense kill all these cats. One, they DO NOT KILL ‘billions of birds per year’ as was found in the 2013 Smithsonian study. I’m still waiting on the Audubon Society or Smithsonian to do research that accounts for other variables like: how many birds die from flying into glass window on high rises; how many birds die do to development where the first thing done is all native trees and vegetation is removed for the housing addition and/or other buildings; and most importantly for cats, how will the researcher weight the kill proficiency of cats. As one who lives with a colony of cats I can guarantee that each individual cat has the same kill proficiency, the same kill rate, or the same desire to hunt. But then, that wouldn’t help the bird people’s desire to kill of feral and community cats. Here is what will: TNR.

              4. Make animal abuse a felony in every last state and make the sentence fit the severity of the abuse. Neglect and starve your dog? Go to prison. Impale a kitten or ‘crush a kitten’? Go to prison. Not for a puny little 6 months either, but more like 6 years. Beat your horse? Drag your horse behind a truck? (that happened here in OK a few years back) go to prison. We now have plenty of ‘for profit’ prisons salivating about meeting quotas, and lobbying state politicians on laws that catch minor offenses to ensure that people of color and low income people get caught up in the system. Well, fill those prisons with the animals abusers and the poachers.

              5. Anyone caught in dog fighting rings, chicken fighting rings gets a mandatory 10 year sentence in a maximum security prison.

              How about that for a start?

              • Yvette says:

                Darn I wish we could go back to edit.

                TNR! Trap, neuter, and spay. It works. Take care of community cats. TNR. It is absolutely nonsense [to] kill all these cats. One, they DO NOT KILL ‘billions of birds per year’ as was found in the 2013 Smithsonian study. I’m still waiting on the Audubon Society or Smithsonian to do research that accounts for other variables like: how many birds die from flying into glass window on high rises; how many birds die do to development where the first thing done is all native trees and vegetation is removed for the housing addition and/or other buildings; and most importantly for cats, how will the researcher weight the kill proficiency of cats. As one who lives with a colony of cats I can guarantee that each individual cat [does not have] the same kill proficiency, the same kill rate, or the same desire to hunt. But then, that wouldn’t help the bird people’s desire to kill [off] feral and community cats. Here is what will: TNR.

                • Ida Lupine says:

                  Thank you, Yvette.

                  I would reply to WM that since wild horses are only in the West, common sense would dictate that only Western interests have the goal of their removal. The rest of the country, (and even the ordinary citizens of the Western states I would wonder) isn’t clamoring for wild horse removal, and there are other ‘environmental degredation’ issues in the rest of the country.

                  Is there a ‘rewilding plan’ in place to restore the landscape by the complainers? No? I think that if horses were removed, they would be replaced by more cattle, more development, more paved over highways and roads, and definitely more energy development. (See Sage Grouse ‘plan’). Degredation of the landscape complaints are disingenuous. For my share of the public lands, I want wild horses and bison and wolves and grizzlies and cougars and sage grouse.

                  That April’s Fool’s Day post by the HCN was tragically comic in the image of a grizzly bear with the Target logo on his butt. Says it all, I think, about the future of our public lands.

              • Louise Kane says:

                +1!!! stop all breeding even by most “reputable” breeders if they wet reputable they would be seeing the endless stream of purebred dogs euthanized and ending up in the stream of rehomed or in abusive situations once they loose protection from an owner that dumps them for any number of reasons. Its heartless to breed dogs relentlessly it s almost impossible to find a perfect committed home for one dog never mind numerous dogs. I’ve just spent since November trying to rehome an abused GSD. Its not easy to find a home and anyone that says it is is full of it. This dog as papers and so do the hundreds that I see weekly on the GSD cross posting pages and they are all just as susepctible to gassing, injections, abuse and deprivation as the next and most came from breeders that entrusted them easily to people that should not have dogs.

                • Ida Lupines says:

                  +1 Louise

                  There’s nothing worse than a trusting animal meeting this kind of fate from humans. 🙁

                • JB says:


                  All of the breeders I am familiar with have very specific return clauses in their purchase agreements that say if for any reason you can’t take care of the dog, you are to return in to the breeder for re-homing. These breeders either re-home the adult dog, or keep it as one of their own. I would never buy a dog from someone who doesn’t have this policy.

                • WM says:

                  ++All of the breeders I am familiar with have very specific return clauses…++

                  Great idea, but most breeders, pet stores and the like don’t have such policies. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many animal shelters…and so many animals put down. We have 3 rescue pets – 1 dog, and 2 cats. All are awesome animals.

                  Unfortunately, I just think there will always be quite a few dogs and cats that get put down. Same with the wild horses – supply is just too much greater than the demand, whether that be available range or the mandated adoption programs. I keep wondering why there is that big ranch in WY that warehouses a bunch at taxpayer cost(actually there are now 3), and calling them “ecosanctuaries:”

                • Louise Kane says:

                  JB thats what they say and sometimes they do take their pets back but often the animals end up with an owner that just dumps the dog. The shelters are filled with purebreds even from reputable breeders. I unfortunately see them every day their sad stories ranging from new baby, owner died, too much work, got old and needs medical care, or just don’t want anymore. Since I got sucked into helping Nikko (purebred Shep) find a home I have been pushed onto the GSD rescue site. Hundreds of dogs daily pass through the site all from breeders of one kind or another. Most of them die. It wont end until breeding ends and big restrictions are implemented. Dogs should not be a commodity to sell at their expense. Millions are bred each year while identical purebred but less fortunate animals are euthanized as in Nazi death camps. The practice of breeding dogs with so many in shelters is unconscionable. You can not believe how heartless and inconsiderate most people are with their animals. WM, right on for adopting and seeing the tragedy of breeding dogs.

                • Yvette says:

                  After reading JB’s post yesterday I did quick search on puppy mills in Oklahoma. Since I’ve never purchased a dog or cat I hadn’t heard of ‘return policies’. What I found is that OK is known as one of seven states that is a ‘puppy mill’ state. 99% of the dogs in petstores came from either OK or Missouri.


                  Also interesting is that on my google search the first three results were:

                  124 dogs seized from OKC puppy mill. 11/22/13

                  Over 100 dogs rescued from Sand Springs, OK puppy mill. 03/05/13

                  North Shore Animal League (NY) rescues over 80 dogs from puppy mill in Oklahoma. 10/22/13

                  This article states 99% of puppies sold online and in pet stores comes from puppy mills and that Oklahoma and Missouri are the two worst states for puppy mills.


                  I honestly did not know the depth of this problem. I do know our pounds and shelters are full of dogs and cats. Every rescue group is overwhelmed with the number of animals needing attention and homes. Why would someone buy a dog or cat when there are so many that need homes? I have breeds that I prefer, like Great Danes, but I bet I could easily find an young GD at the city pound. The dog I have now is a pitbull that I found in front of my office. She only had enough strength to stand for a few minutes, was covered in mange, and her eyes were crusted nearly shut. She weighed less than 30lbs. I honestly thought I was taking her home so I could take her to my vet and allow her to at least die with a bit of dignity rather than whatever horrid life she had to that point. I was going to give her one week to see if she would eat and drink and see how well she responded to me cleaning and caring for her. Long story, but she ate and drank and grew stronger each day. Her eyes cleared up with me flushing them daily. She had a strong spirit and apparently wanted to live. I took her to the vet the following week and we went from there to address her problems. That was 08/20/2007. She and my great dane became best buds. I lost my dane (love of my life), but I still have Molly the pitbull; one dog in a sea of cats. That’s why I don’t understand why anyone would buy a dog or a cat. The pounds and the streets are full of dogs and cats that make wonderful companions. The human just has to see through the dirt, fear, and scars (physical and emotional) from life on the streets. A little work and wa-la, they are just as beautiful as any $1,000 dollar dog.

                • TC says:

                  I’m not convinced any of you know what a truly ethical and responsible breeder really is. Your stories indicate: 1. a lot of animal rightist propaganda, 2. a very incomplete knowledge of what ethical breeders really do, and 3. some dabbling indignation at puppy mills and backyard breeders, coming a bit late in the game, compared to people that have been in the trenches for decades (including all ethical breeders).
                  Ethical reputable breeders generally do a lot of things you’re not very clear about:
                  1. Breed very few litters. Often one every few years. Never for profit (they lose money, always). Never just to have puppies. Never just to sell puppies. Always with an eye towards producing better dogs that can do what they should do and have great homes long before the litter even is conceived.
                  2. Have very restrictive contracts mandating veterinary care, socialization and obedience training, spay/neuter requirements for most puppies, microchipping of all puppies with the breeder listed as primary or backup contact, return of all dogs for any reason, and the right to take the dog away for known or suspected neglect or abuse of any kind.
                  3. They vet prospective owners carefully. Home inspections, interviews, queries of references and veterinarians, proof of dog experience, running prospective owners through their networks (to weed out slobs, and worse, bad actors looking for well bred dogs to pump out puppies of their own for profit), and say “no” to the vast majority of people that would like to get on a waiting list for one of their few available puppies. Not only “no”, but often “hell no”.
                  4. They put their few breeding dogs through thousands of dollars of health screenings (OFA/Penn Hip/thyroid panels/PRA testing/DM testing/cardiomyopathy testing/expert temperament testing/many more breed specific screens) and do not breed any dog affected or carrying known deleterious traits. Very few of their dogs ever get to breed. Very few have earned it. The longer they stay active as breeders, generally the fewer and fewer dogs they produce.
                  5. They prove their dogs. In other words, prove the dog can do the “job” the breed is meant to do. Hunt tests, field trials, herding trials, Schutzhund events, Earth-dog trials, nose-work or tracking trials, reactivity and training examinations for service dogs, etc. Again, often a huge investment in money and time.
                  6. They breed dogs to do jobs, to be healthy, AND to be good companions. There must be some phenotypic predictability that the dog can do the job, and do it well – that rescue dog from the shelter almost certainly cannot do many of these jobs. For example – seeing-eye dogs are not random source, backyard bred, or mixed breed. They come from very few ethical reputable breeders and from relatively few breeds that meet phenotypic, behavioral, and other requirements.
                  7. If a breeder you’re dealing with, or have dealt with in the past does not check off all of the boxes above, they are not a truly ethical, responsible, reputable, and knowledgable breeder. They are a backyard breeder. And you should not support them. And if you want to fight to put limits on what they can do, I support that.
                  8. Ethical breeders almost always have rescued and fostered dozens, and many times hundreds of other dogs – sometimes in their breed, often not. They spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to clean up after slob (backyard) or worse, criminal (puppy mill) breeders, knowing they have to do their part to help with pet overpopulation, education, health research, teaching dog owners to be responsible and knowledgable, and lessening the killing crisis. They’ve done far more than any of you ever will in this regard. Far more. Orders of magnitude more. You’ve rescued one dog? Try 200. Get back to me then. I have a breeder friend that is well over 500. The time and expense and heartbreak is enormous.
                  9. Not all dogs are just companions, or child surrogates. Some dogs in this country still earn a living, including all of mine over the years. I too have rescued, fostered, trained, “straightened out”, spayed/neutered, and successfully rehomed many dogs – more than 50 at last count, of many breeds and mixed breeds – and can count the number among them suitable for doing the things my dogs have had to do (search and rescue, water rescue, tracking and nose-work including on some scientific studies, retrieving game birds, guard – not attack, not bite-work, and not barking – but actually reliably, competently, and knowledgably guard resources) on one hand. For a variety of reasons. Wrong temperament, too reactive, bad hips, bad elbows, bad heart, not reward motivated, “dumb” but lovable, wrong size, wrong skill set, wrong breed entirely, dog aggressive, people aggressive, a variety of phobias, good dog ruined by bad people, etc. These dogs have, by and large, made good companions and made a lot of people happy. Most of them could not work their way out of a cardboard box, through no fault of their own.

                  Yes, we have a huge problem with puppy mills and backyard breeders (the latter probably more of a problem in terms of numbers of eventually unwanted dogs produced, and equally a problem in producing all sorts of dogs genetically predisposed to physical and behavioral problems), but true ethical and knowledgable breeders are not the problem. Want a companion? Yes, by all means, rescue a puppy or dog in need. Hell, I may have another one anytime looking for a good home. And give of your time, money, and resources to help others. But stop with blanket statements that just expose ignorance.

                  Now get back to discussing wildlife.

                • JB says:

                  TC et al.

                  My mother-in-law bred white shepherds for a short time, and my experience with these breeders (generally, members of the American White Shepherd Association) fits your description. In fact, these breeders self-report health problems to a database, so breeders can be sure, for example, not to breed to known carriers of a disease that neither animal has manifest (check out:

                  I won’t go into details, but my mother-in-laws days as a breeder were short, as it turned out her luck was bad (Perianal fistulas, spinal stenosis, and one that just wasn’t quite up to snuff on conformation). She bred one litter before identifying PF in her first bitch, and one with the second bitch before the stenosis was identified. All three dogs were spayed and that was that. Actually, it wasn’t–the second dog (with spinal stenosis) ended up going to Canada for a $5K surgery (aged 8).

                  Anyway, the whole conversation here just shows how some are so quick to condemn whole groups of people based upon the actions of a few (and very limited information as to what is actually happening).

                  As an aside, my next dog will likely be a re-homed adult from one of these breeders.

                • Ida Lupine says:

                  IMO it really is up to the individual dog owner, not out clauses in contracts.

                  Unless under the extremest of circumstances, the pet owner should make a lifetime commitment to a pet. If you cannot do that, you shouldn’t have one – unless the pet owner makes the effort to find a good, not just any home, or brings them to a reputable shelter.

                  This is how I define personal responsibility, and no blaming PETA.

                  Dogs and cats and rabbits are not toys or inanimate items that can be returned during a warranty period, or when they are no longer puppies and get too big, or you cannot afford them after buying on impulse. Neither, for that matter, are adopted children.

                  Happy Easter, Happy Passover, and Happy Spring!

            • JB says:

              Yvette, WM:

              I think the solution to the dog/cat problem is actually quite simple: individual responsibility. Every dog and cat gets a microchip and if an animal is picked up outside without being accompanied by its owner, the person whose name is on the chip gets a fine–no excuses. When the animal is sold, the name on the chip is changed. Whenever an animal sees a vet, the visit is recorded.

              Dogs and cats are items of interstate commerce, so Congress has the authority to enact appropriate statutes right now. All we need is the political will to make it happen.

              • Ida Lupines says:

                That does nothing to address the sheer numbers of animals, puppy mills and overbreeders, removal of microchips by the indiscriminate, abuse and neglect. I know it is hard to believe, but lots of people never take their pets to veterinarians. Lots of people either cannot afford it, or don’t place a high priority on veterinary care, especially if they cannot even take their kids to a doctor.

                One thing we ought to learn in the personal responsibility list is to know when to have restraint. If you cannot afford to take care of a pet properly, don’t get one, even if little Bobby wants a cute little puppy for Christmas or a bunny for Easter.

                I’d be happy if we could just make people clean up after their pets in public parks! Surely it must contaminate the drinking water supply.

                • Ida Lupines says:

                  There’s a lot of animal care legislation that just languishes in Congress, so getting them to do anything is very optimistic, especially with the current group. We can’t even get this Administration to outlaw commerce in exotic snakes or tigers or other ‘non-native’ species! He’s done it only half-way. Non-native snakes have devastated the Everglades, as we know, and I think that there are more tigers in captivity in the US than exist in the wild. So the small but powerful groups that have created a tempest about wild horses removal from public lands is a bit ridiculous.

                  The only animal legislation that gets fast-tracked seems to be killing wolves. Go figure.

                • Ida Lupines says:

                  More theater of the absurd tragi-comedy:

                  “A Boston University report noted that mouse and rat breeders would lose business if the big snakes were banned, while snake sellers worried about being unable to sell their stockpiles of reptiles.”


                  Do we really need to be breeding mice and rats?

                • Yvette says:

                  “Surely it must contaminate the drinking water supply.”

                  It’s not only drinking water but all surface water. It’s a big deal with stormwater management. Pet waste can be a contributing factor to increased nutrients in surface water, which causes all kinds of problems like lower dissolved oxygen and an increase in algae. I always thought we hammered on too much about pet waste and suspected it was an insignificant factor relative to other things, but…this fact sheet says 20% of the bacteria found in water samples from Seattle watersheds was traced to dogs.

                • Yvette says:

                  “Surely it must contaminate the drinking water supply.”

                  It’s not only drinking water but all surface water. It’s a big deal with stormwater management. Pet waste can be a contributing factor to increased nutrients in surface water, which causes all kinds of problems like lower dissolved oxygen and an increase in algae. I always thought we hammered on too much about pet waste and suspected it was an insignificant factor relative to other things, but…this fact sheet says 20% of the bacteria found in water samples from Seattle watersheds was traced to dogs.

                  A little more info on pet waste disposal.

              • Louise Kane says:

                +1 JB its a rare occasion I find that I am not in almost total agreement with yvette’s posts but I have a thing about cats being loose. They don’t belong outdoors. I’m not saying I think they should all be killed but trap, spay or neuter and get off the streets. And laws should also be enacted to ban breeding of cats and dogs. I’m seeing way too many homeless sad dogs that are euthanized every year because people are lazy, disloyal and don’t deserve the dogs they throw away.

                • Yvette says:

                  Louise, we usually do agree 100%, and I’m glad people like you are in the world. We need more like you and a whole lot less of the animal abusers, whether it’s domestic animals or wildlife.

                  No work today, but I got up at normal hour to feed my cats, dog, and the untamed community cats that I feed and found a friend had tagged me in fb with this information. It’s long overdue, and relates to my response to WM. Now, if they will just implement it and enforce it I think society would be much safer. People that abuse, neglect or torture animals are usually not too kind to humans, either.

                  A side note: Finally, I was successful at trapping the female feral on the night before her scheduled spay appointment so she was spayed and vaccinated two weeks ago. I was ecstatic to get this one as a neighbor has tried and failed several times. Between me and another neighbor, she is a well fed and tended feral.


                • Louise Kane says:

                  Yvette thanks for posting the new federal law. I saw it was coming down the pike but was not sure of its status. Interesting to see how state and federal statutes will overlap. If the FBI involved one level of scrutiny and punishment and other for state laws. Wonder what will make the animal abuse rise to level of FBI/federal prosecution as opposed to state. Probably something obvious I am overlooking. The part that bothers me relentlessly is that laws exists (albeit not strong enough or consistent enough) to protect domestic pets but the abuse wild animals like wolves and coyotes (their closest genetic relatives) suffer is completely mind boggling. Even recently a MN law is being introduced to help protect dogs against traps with righteous support because several dogs are being injured yearly. I saw not one comment about the wolves and coyotes, foxes, badgers or other poor beings stuck in those damned torture devices. anyhow lol Yvette on the last of your post about well fed feral. You even make that palatable, for even me the most vocal opponent of allowing cats outdoors. On another note please e mail me today.

        • rork says:

          “but science does not call the shots. The American public does. Whether some people think it is a ‘stupid idea’ or not, is irrelevant. ”
          Public opinion rules but people’s opinions don’t matter, in consecutive sentences. I award you the irony trophy. I similarly award those who are concerned about feral cats and dogs but support having feral horses.

          “We arrogant humans have done much more to wreck the landscape.” That airplanes can crash does not mean carpets fly better, to restate my original objection to your irrelevancies.

          “We have no respect for life anymore, no depth, no passion. Everything is superficial and a big joke.” We are largely irrational dingbats with no respect for the land.

          “Yet we only hear about horses, because we all know that they are in the way of energy development and to a lesser extent, ranching.” This is false. For example, nobody here who ever objected to feral horses feels that way I think.

          “The NAS didn’t say the law was a stupid thing” – only cause BLM told them not to say that.

  7. Ida Lupines says:

    Haven’t heard much about this in the news since it happened (hmmm, wonder why). Let’s see if any more information ‘seeps out’ in the coming days:

    Meanwhile, it’s drill baby drill here in the states:

  8. Ida Lupines says:

    I loved the idea in Cambridge and other places that people could put their dog’s leavings in a methane digester and that it could power the lights in the park! I wish more people would implement such things. I think it would encourage people to, having such a great, immediate benefit. 🙂

    Good work Yvette with the feral kitties –

  9. Mark L says:

    Louise Kane says,
    “The part that bothers me relentlessly is that laws exists (albeit not strong enough or consistent enough) to protect domestic pets but the abuse wild animals like wolves and coyotes (their closest genetic relatives) suffer is completely mind boggling.”
    Exactly. It’s why I was questioning JB’s reference to ‘beagles and wolves’ in an ecosystem earlier in this same thread. They’re geneticallly the same for the most part, and can interbreed creating a coywolf (and/or a dog?). Kind of like questioning whether humans ever interbred with Neanderthals…history emphatically says “yes!”, but it takes a while for us to ‘digest’ the implications of this (not always pleasant, btw). Some humans being more human than others?

  10. Ida Lupine says:

    It’s a lot more than just the actions of a few. Many here sound like they have volunteered in the trenches at vet offices and animal shelters. There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a trusting, loving puppy being brought in to be put down by an unfeeling animal control agent. And the sordid tales the agents have to tell you about complete nut jobs and criminals that are allowed to have pets – and kids too.

    Of course there are reputable breeders (even I know of one). The most absolutely gorgeous yellow Labradors.


March 2015


‎"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