What does coexistence with large carnivores actually mean?

1to exist together or at the same time
2to live in peace with each other especially as a matter of policy

Coexistence is not –notably – existing together only until it becomes inconvenient or burdensome and then calling in Wildlife Services to kill or remove your neighbors. I’m sick to death of these ranchers in Mexican wolf habitat who claim to practice coexistence but always, always, have the trump card of killing, capturing, or removing wolves in hand. Maybe we need to review the definition of “exist” as well?

It isn’t just that they claim to practice it either. It’s that they take a metric ton of money premised on their willingness to reduce conflicts, both from federal* and private sources. They suck up federal and private compensation money when their cows get killed by lobos (even when confirmations are sketchy, at best). And don’t even get me started on the artificially low federal grazing fee for public lands livestock. And really don’t get me started on the truckload of other subsidies these folks get for the privilege of producing a tiny fraction of U.S. beef on national forests and arid BLM lands. I. Can’t. Even.

Collectively, we throw a ton of taxpayer money at these folks and they still can’t deal with sharing space with Mexican wolves. Instead, they believe they are entitled to the have the cake they are already eating. It all seems insane until you realize that the whole cowboy myth is built on that same sense of entitlement, whether it’s wolves or bison or prairie dogs or southwestern willow flycatchers or … you name an imperiled species in the western United States and there’s very likely a close connection to livestock being part of the problem. (It’s a twisted and less-fun version of the Kevin Bacon game.)

Unless you are a rancher who is willing to forego removals of wolves for livestock depredations, you aren’t coexisting. You’re pretending. And we see you.

* Sorry if this is behind a paywall for you. It’s about a new source of money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture: $886,255 to a coalition of ranchers, conservation groups and tribes in the West to research and adopt nonlethal ways to reduce conflicts between wildlife and livestock.




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  1. idaursine Avatar

    Thank you! There is no coexistence in reality. Right now, it is still a goal.

  2. Barbara Moritsch Avatar
    Barbara Moritsch

    The “system” needs to do a 180 degree shift. Instead of keeping wolves away from livestock, keep the livestock away from wolves. If a rancher fails and a wolf takes a cow or sheep, fine the rancher for putting the wolf’s life at risk. The way we view all wildlife and wildland issues is completely backwards.

  3. Beeline Avatar

    Coexistence? I think a lot of people would say something like- “Hey, we get along with Native Americans just fine as long as they stay on their reservations”. I used to know some cowboy types and their replies about predators were something like .”Keep all them dam coyotes and wolves in a ..@@@###..zoo.”

    The refuge system in the pacific flyway from Tule Lake down through the upper Sacramento Valley refuges did in fact help to conserve waterfowl. However, the under-lying intent was to protect agriculture from duck depredation on croplands. So, species that do not conform to the capitalistic paradigm all have their place in little islands of land so they don’t interfere with the sacred cows of this society.

    America was founded on racial/species bias, barbarism, resource extraction etc. and this bias is mixed into the legal system. The Taylor Grazing Act (1934) and the Public Rangeland Improvement Act (1978) were passed to improve the range for domestic livestock use, not for wildlife. The bureaucracy that has grown up around livestock production is huge and complicated and difficult to understand. The Endangered Species Act was piled on top of the rest and did some good for a while until it was disemboweled by its craven opponents.

    The system of managing public land is flawed to say the least because the land/vegetation/animal complex has no real ecological/spiritual standing. The government fallback position is usually something like harvest “game” animals for a price and treat the land as if it were a farming operation and cultivate it, spray it, graze it and all the other stuff that happens under a multiple “abuse” management system.

    This is the reason that I advocate the total removal of livestock and the cessation of pesticide/herbicide use on all public lands. Otherwise do as George suggest and support Wilderness designation.

    1. Ann Avatar

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment

    2. Gail Avatar

      Wow! Right on the mark and expressed so well.

  4. connie Avatar

    Greta Anderson you are spot on!
    Just killing, taking taxpayer
    money, stealing public lands, only listening to ranching community, needs A complete overhaul or better yet livestock removed livestock should not be in wolf /wildlands/territory most in ranching community have proved they cannot/will not coexist

  5. Mary A Branch Avatar
    Mary A Branch

    Great commentary!

  6. Oakley Taylor Avatar

    There doesn’t seem to be enough incentive for these ranchers to choose alternate methods to deter their the predators from their livestock. Much easier to shoot and kill these sacred animals instead of trying to exercise more humane means. It’s Americans addiction to red meat that continues to drive the necessity to raise such enormous amounts of cattle for consumption.

  7. Maggie Frazier Avatar
    Maggie Frazier

    As Ida said – there is no such thing as co-existence when it comes to a question who (or what) benefits. This seems to be the “American Way” – you know like the “cowboy way”!
    Its either or. Until these “benefiters” are forced by law or regulations, to stop the slaughter of our native wildlife & stop the absolute destruction of its habitat – they will continue to do the same old, same old. We have watched the current administration do that very thing – just because there is no specific law against it – push as far as you can ignoring the “normal” way of doing things.

  8. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Thank you Maggie – sorry, I thought it was a bright idea to have one signature for wolves and one for bears, and it got all mixed up. Love them both, and all our unique American wildlife.

    There’s been too much catering to and compromising to human activity on the public lands. It’s time to think a little bit more of the wildlife facing continual pressure from human activities.

  9. Louise kane Avatar
    Louise kane

    Thank you for for your commentary
    The outrage is warranted

    I’m not commenting much anymore but wanted to wish everyone a peaceful holiday

  10. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    With the recent delisting of wolves, the attitude toward wolves has become much more cavalier. The SSS crowd was always present, yet, currently an attitude among those who have demonstrated discretion during the past is, “well, they’re not protected anymore.” If wolf removal from the ESL is to be greeted with acclaim, the delisting should not be synonymous with rationale for hunting and trapping. And while on the subject of canids, the attitude toward Coyotes is an abomination.

    1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
      Maggie Frazier

      The attitude towards pretty much ALL predators is an abomination! We really havent come all that far from the slaughter done hundreds of years ago – not only to predator species. Pretty sad when our NATIVE wildlife has to be protected from US! But thats the way it is. Just as our parks & monuments are being overcome by too many people! The attitude of “go there before its gone & too late”. No concept of keeping our wildlife & lands safe for the future – not just for us but for the planet.

  11. rastadoggie Avatar

    Socialists all.

  12. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    I really do fear that wolves are going to again be the sacrificial lamb as they were back in 2011.

    I’m already reading articles about the spotted owl, Monarch butterflies, etc. being ‘neglected’ – the implication being, as we know. I hope it’s just my wrong interpretation.

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