Phillips Wolf Reintroduction Speech
1/5/2004 1:40:54 PM. Here's the transcript, which you will note has
some deficiencies due to poor sound quality on some of the tape. Walter
Medwid -- Walter M. Medwid, Executive Director, International Wolf
Center, French Regional Park, 12615 Co. Rd. 9 #200, Minneapolis,
MN 55441 http://www.wolf.org firstname.lastname@example.org
"Supporting the survival of wolves through education since
from Plenary Session One
Symposium February 24, 2000
L. David Mech
next speaker is Mike Phillips; I think most of you know who Mike is.
(ah) He has the distinction of having (ah) directed the very
successful reintroduction program of (um) red wolves into (ah) North
Carolina, then (ah) was given the assignment of overseeing the
reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. And (ah) as
you'll -- as you no doubt know and will hear (ah) from some of the
papers (ah) thatís a very successful reintroduction. (ah) Mike, now,
is on to other things, heís the executive director of the endangered
Ė ahÖahÖsorry, of the Turner Endangered Species -- Endangered
Species Fund, which is a private Organization (ah) devoted to
conservation and recovery of endangered species. Mike.
Good Morning. I want to thank my colleagues with the International
Wolf Center for inviting me to speak at the plenary session; I got the
distinct impression from them that they wanted me to stir things up.
So thereís no better way to do that than discussing wolf-livestock
conflicts. (Looking to the left) That slide is a bit early, so bear
with it. You know, historically you could find wolves from coast to
coast; east to west and north to south in North America. You could
find wolves in deserts, you could find wolves in swamps, you could
find wolves in the forests, you could find wolves on the prairie; at
least until the war. You know, we waged a great war on wolves; it was
a bloody affair. We killed wolves on private land, we killed wolves on
public land, we killed wolves in great conservation theaters like
Yellowstone Park. We killed virtually every wolf in the continental
United States. Yet, you gotta ask, why? Why in the world did we wage
this great war? Well in part, I think we did it because the early
settlers had this tremendous obsession to tame the wilderness, take
buffalo, for example. You know, bison or buffalo historically roamed
the Great Plains in the millions. They constituted one of the greatest
concentration of hoofed mammals with world has ever or will ever see.
William A. Hornet wrote, "It would be easier to count all the
leaves in a forest as to count the number of bison living before the
1870s.Ē By the late 1880s, the situation had changed drastically,
virtually overnight, millions of bison were slaughtered. Ending 15,000
years of continuous existence on the plains. In their place, stood
600,000 cattle and counting. The abuses weren't limited to wolves and
bison, but they were widespread, indeed, wildlife conservation in the
US grew out of a concern
that sportsman had over-declining populations of game. In the 1940s,
Leopold wrote, "Our Profession grew out of a need for things to
specific cause of the wolf war, related to the raising of livestock.
Indeed, the reported killing of cattle, and sheep, and other domestic
animals by wolves has been and will be the primary justification for
killing reached a peak as the Great Plains were being settled. When
livestock were about the only thing they had left to eat, as native
prey populations had all been but destroyed because of excessive
hunting. Barry Lopez wrote of this time, "That the wolf was not
the cattlemen's only problem, there was weather, disease, rustling,
fluctuation beef prices, the hazards of trail drives, but the wolf
became the object of pathologic hatred. The pathology was fueled by
stories of individual wolves that were supposedly performing great
feats of destruction against the settlersí herds of cattle and
sheep. Some of these animals were named and achieve celebrity status.
The roster included Old Two-toes, Phantom wolf, Custer wolf, and Lobo,
King of Currumpaw and his mate Blanco.
1998, researchers assumed that historical accounts were correct, that
they accurately described the situation at the time. And they
estimated that these famous wolves killed so frequently that they had,
on average, access to 100 pounds of livestock flesh per day. Folks,
thatís a whole bunch of food. The researchers considered several
reasons for these extremely high kills rates that would generate this
bounty, and concluded that early authors simply fabricated information
about these famous wolves.
war, truth is, without doubt, the first casualty.
we have objective data that helps us understand the situation between
wolves and livestock, the wolf population in the Lower 48 states that
is currently subjected to livestock or exposed to livestock includes
animals in excess of 3,000. Since data had been collected, starting in
1979, over 2,000 head of hoof livestock have been killed by wolves in
the lower 48 states. In response, almost 1,700 wolves have been
removed, mostly by federal control agents.
1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed an exhaustive
review of wolf-livestock conflict in Montana and they concluded that
wolf caused loss of livestock is an insignificant economic impact to
the livestock industry in Montana, but itís very emotional; itís
now, get these facts: between 1987-1998, eleven years confirmed losses
to wolves in northwestern Montana averaged 5 cattle and 4 sheep.
Livestock producers, on the other hand, in Montana during a 5-year
period from 86-91, reported, on average, a loss of 142,000 sheep,
86,000 cattle to all losses. Eleven years: 5 cattle, 4 sheep. 5 years:
142,000 sheep, 86,000 cattle.
wolf range, the perception of the magnitude of wolf-caused damage is
much greater than warranted, probably due to the intensive media
coverage that wolf-livestock conflicts generate. That said, itís
important to note that some producers suffer serious problems.
wolf is very adaptable. Itís quite capable of inhabiting areas of
fairly high road densities; that are open and settled by people. For
example, itís my understanding that breeding packs now occur within
60 miles of St. Paul, Minnesota. The first litter of pups born in the
Yellowstone reintroduction, was whelped within ten miles of downtown
Red Lodge, Montana.
wolves move into human dominated landscapes, conflicts are going to
increase. If conflicts rise to unacceptable levels there will be a
public backlash against recovery and that will make it infinitely more
difficult to restore wolves to other areas.
conflicts are a problem, and I've thought of this long and hard, and
I've come up with ten ideas that might resolve or reduce conflicts.
Many of these ideas won't be new to some folks in the audience, and
there are other ideas, certainly, but I'd like to talk about these ten
first way to resolve or reduce wolf-livestock conflicts, is to
continue to support Defender Ö Defenders compensation program. Since
1987, Defenders of Wildlife has provided financial compensation to
ranchers who incur wolf-induced losses. This program is widely
believed to be very effective at minimize the animosity toward wolves
and wolf recovery by shifting economic responsibility away from
individual ranchers to the millions of people who want to see wolf
populations restored. The wolf compensation trust is a $200,000.00
legal trust established by defenders for the sole purpose of making
compensation payments. From 1987-1999 payments totaled about $100, or
more than $100,000.00. Itís a very effective program, but the
question remains: is it most effective? Defenders is currently
considering a study to investigate that. I'm so intrigued with their
willingness to take apart this good program and make it better that
the Turner Endangered Species Fund offers $5,000.00 to assist with
that study. I hope you folks will support Defenders in their efforts
as well. Thatís one way to reduce and resolve wolf livestock
way to reduce livestock conflicts is to utilized non-lethal control
whenever practicable. Thereís a host of ways one can exercise
non-lethal control. I chose to consider four for today. Thereís
harassment, thereís aversive conditioning, you can use guard dogs,
you can re-locate wolves.
of wolves is provided for in virtually all wolf management guidelines.
There is, however, no real good data that harassment does much good.
Itís my experience that hazing or harassing wolves really creates
only a short-term effect in changing wolf behavior. Aversive
conditioning is also largely unknown. We don't know whether it will
work. Recent research with coyotes showed success in using electronic
shock collars to reduce depredation on sheep. Several of us believe
that this is an area where further research is warranted. So a
collaborative effort has been launched involving U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, Wildlife ServicesÖThe University of Montana,
Yellowstone National Park, Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife
Federation, and finally, The Turner Endangered Species Fund to try and
find techniques for aversively conditioning wolves in an attempt to
reduce livestock depredations.
work will begin in earnest this summer. Hopefully within a couple of
years we'll have some positive results to share.
dogs have been widely used but with mixed results. And the
relationship between dogs, and wolves, and livestock clearly needs
further evaluation. In some cases, guard dogs have driven wolves away
from livestock, in other cases wolves have apparently been attracted
to livestock because of the dogs, and it is not uncommon for wolves to
kill guard dogs, capturing the attention of the media with the
subsequent generation of flashy headlines like, "Massive guard
dog killed by wolves."
problem wolves, at least in Montana and the Northern Rockies, hasn't
worked especially as well, as relocated wolves often depredate again
or don't survive long enough to contribute to population growth. Only
1 in 28 relocated wolves, in Northwestern Montana, survives long
enough to reproduce and we had a similar pattern with animals
relocated to the Yellowstone area. This is also a very costly and
time-intensive means of non-lethal control.
way to reduce or resolve wolf-livestock conflicts is to exercise and
support lethal control. Ultimately the killing of a wolf or wolves
responsible for depredation is the only long-term solution. While
lethal control is important, itís also important that it be applied
in a fashion that is perceived as fair by both ends of the spectrum. A
series of conflicts in Yellowstone-or outside Yellowstone, illustrate
the difficulty of this.
1999, two packs from Yellowstone Park killed at lease 2 calves and 6
sheep, just north of the parkís boundary in Paradise Valley. In
response, the USFWS and the National Park Service did some extra
monitoring, they did some hazing, Defenders bought some guard dogs,
but eventually, the FWS killed 8 wolves; 5 pups, 2 yearlings, and an
adult. To some conservationists, the simple score was: 2 calves and 6
sheep (eight head of livestock) versus 8 wolves. They were further
concerned that 5 of the 8 wolves killed were pups that were probably
not actually involved in the killing of the livestock. I received
several e-mails, that were widely distributed, that indicated that
wolf recovery was being implemented by a federal killing machine
operating from a put-and-take paradigm. Well, I understand the
conservationists concerns; I asked, what else could The Service have
done? What other options did they have left open that they didn't
you consider the Northern Rockies control program, itís important to
note that lethal control usually only involves about 5% of the
1987, lethal control has only involved 10% of the population.
two occasions, and one occasion was certainly a function of a massive
winter that reduced native prey populations considerably for a short
period of time. When considering the conservation effects of lethal
control, itís important to remember that wolves are very hard wired
example, didya know, that 50% of the females that we translocated from
Canada to Yellowstone bred in captivity, even though we quite often
placed them with unknown mates, and certainly in an unfamiliar
still breed in captivity.
studies have determined that wolf populations can sustain human-caused
losses of up to 35% without declining.
agree that even in areas where ungulate biomass is fairly low, wolves
can tolerate harvest rates of up to 20%.
way to resolve or reduce wolf-livestock conflicts is to increase
monitoring of wolves inhabiting hotspots, at least until the species
is delisted. You know, for years, I wrestled with the daily yin and
yang of wolf recovery. Always my greatest tool for resolving conflicts
was knowing where wolves were and having a good sense of what they had
been doing. It also, this intimate knowledge, assisted local folks who
were learning to coexist with wolves. I learned a long time ago, that
intensive monitoring allows you to differentiate between real and
perceived problems. Unfortunately, for the most part, the USFWS does
not have the resources necessary to monitor in an intensive fashion.
Mostly, The Service is able to respond to crisis events leaving
mundane matters as gripes for the rumor mill.
for a moment, consider the wolf population that inhabits
Yellowstoneís Northern Range, it occurs at a density of about one
wolf per seven square miles. Thatís a lot of wolves. Those animals
are going to go somewhere soon, a pulse of dispersal is going to take
place, and animals (some anyway) are going to drift north, following
the lay of the land, looking for good ungulate habitat. Their travels
are going to bring them to sites like the privately owned Flying D
Ranch on the outskirts of Bozeman, Montana. The Flying D, at 113,000
acres, is the largest tract of private land in the greater Yellowstone
ecosystem. It shares a many-mile common boundary with the Gallatin
National Forest, specifically, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness unit of
Gallatin National Forest.
deed possesses great winter and summer range for elk and mule deer.
Wolves that find the Flying D think they've died and went to heaven.
The owners will welcome their return. There are other properties owned
by the Turner family around Bozeman, Montana, and they'll be welcomed
here as well. To orientate you folks to this image, this is
Yellowstone Lake, if you can all see my pointer. If you drift north,
this is the northwest corner of Yellowstone Park, Paradise Valley is
here, with Livingston, Bozeman, Montana, this is the Gallatin Valley,
this is the Madison Valley. You know, in a setting like this, in this
northwest corner of the Yellowstone ecosystem where wild land butts up
with tamed land. Where Yellowstone Park and wilderness areas butt up
against the outskirts of Bozeman. Wolves are going to have access to
deer, moose, elk, bison, dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, lamas, trash
cans, and boots, and all the other
trappings of Bozeman and Gallatin Valley and Madison Valley.
going to be blamed for a lot of things.
going to get blamed for a lot of dead cats and a lot of dead dogs.
think having a sense of what they're doing will allow the USFWS to
make the very best management decisions.
will also help the residents of this area toÖto learn what it means
to have wolves as neighbors. Because the USFWS has limitations, the
Turner Endangered Specifies Fund is building a program to assist with
monitoring grey wolves that inhabit this area of Montana with a focus
on Turner properties and other private lands as a way to assist the
FWS and a way to assist our neighbors in learning what it means to
coexist with grey wolves. Intensive monitoring can help, at least
until the species is delisted.
think that wolf-livestock conflicts, with a focus on Mexican wolves
can be reduced by developing a wolf management facility in Vermejo
Park Ranch in northern New Mexico. In 1997, Mr. Turner purchased the
588,000-acre Vermejo Park Ranch, in part, because he knew it was great
habitat for grey wolves. He knew Vermejo could figure, somehow, could
figure prominently in efforts to restoring large carnivores in North
weeks ago the Turner Endangered Species Fund submitted a proposal to
the USFWS that calls for the fund to develop a wolf management
facility that would promote Mexican Wolf recovery by releasing a small
number of captive born animals, naive captive-born Mexican wolves, in
order to give them a chance to enhance behaviors that are important to
survival, like killing native prey. To give some of these adults an
opportunity to produce pups in the wild, that themselves can be
involved in other reintroduction efforts, and finally to provide The
Service the opportunity to preview the survival ability of wolves that
are being considered for reintroduction. Once these objectives are met
we would welcome the opportunity to increase the scope of our efforts
to include additional research to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts. We
are especially intrigued with ideas of using non-lethal methods of
affecting a change in wolf (____?) tenure.
of this is being proposed with the core of Vermejo Park Ranch, shown
in this slide as yellow. We did carve out a one-mile buffer strip on
the inside of Vermejo, shown in the slide as red, with the provision
that anytime a wolf entered the buffer zone recapture efforts would be
initiated and would not be terminated until the wolf had been returned
to Vermejo Park Ranch. There is no allowance for wolves to occur
outside the property. Itís
important, when considering Vermejo, to note that itís five times
larger than Isle Royale, which has supported a wolf population since
the late 1940s. Vermejo is very carefully monitored; access is
strictly limited, which has reduced poaching of wildlife to virtually
nil. The ranch supports 7500 elk and 2500 mule deer, certainly an
ungulate population thatís robust enough to give a small number of
wolves the opportunity to hone predatory skills while developing a
very sharp search image that focuses on native ungulates. Finally,
Vermejo is nearly completely surrounded by large tracts of private and
public land many of which are managed for conservation purposes. In
this slide the gray areas depict large tracks of private land, the
light blue or light green and then the darker red depict public lands
in the form of the Carson National Forest and some state wildlife
think that developing a wolf facility at Vermejo is a heckuva good
idea. The current Mexican Wolf program is progressing very well, but
conflicts with livestock have been a problem.
USFWS has had to return some wolves to captivity.
think the Vermejo proposal is a solid approach for doing something
proactive to reduce future conflicts between Mexican wolves and
livestock. I think that overall the facility will increase the
certainty, cost effectiveness, and stakeholder acceptance of Mexican
wolf recovery. It may provide insights to wolf management that can be
used by other folks wrestling with wolf recovery. It certainly could
instruct efforts to restore other endangered species where recovery is
a function of reintroduction of captive born animals. And finally, I
think it will serve as a vivid example for future public-private
partnerships with a focus on conserving biological diversity.
thing we can do to reduce or resolve wolf livestock conflicts is to
support the restoration of wolves to other appropriate, but currently
I mentioned earlier, currently thereís about 3,000 wolves in the
continental United States, occupying about 3% of the species historic
range. While the situation is a vast improvement over 2 decades ago,
much work remains to be done. I believe that restoring wolves to more
places will ensure their recovery and allow us for more liberal
management of wolves that cause problems with livestock. This slide is
from a Defenders of Wildlife publication that speaks to wolves in more
places. Bob Ferris will present the highlights of that publication
later at this conference; I recommend that you go.
my purposes, ignore the starred areas -- those are simply sights
Defenders believe need further consideration for grey wolves -- and
focus on the dark green areas in the continental U.S.
itís important to note that we've got wolves inhabiting the western
Great Lakes (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan), we've got wolves
inhabiting the Northern Rockies (Yellowstone, Central Idaho and
Montana), and a handful of animals as part of the Mexican wolf
overriding impression I get from this slide is: Look at how much
habitat is not occupied.
I don't argue for wolves everywhere, but I do believe thereís wisdom
in looking at places like the Southern Rocky Mountains.
studies have done just that. These studies, and in this slide, the
Southern Rocky Mountains ecosystem is highlighted by the red dashed
extends from South-Central Wyoming, through Western Colorado into
Northern New Mexico.
encompasses millions upon millions of acres, much of which is public
land in the form of Forest Service property in the dark green, or
Bureau of Land Management holdings in the dark tan. Itís a big piece
studies have shown that because of the presence of robust ungulate
populations and this great mix of public land, that western Colorado
alone could support 1000 or more wolves. A public opinion poll of
Colorado residents showed majority support for the idea of restoring
wolves to the state.
appropriateness of the Southern Rockies for grey wolves is recognized
by the conservation community and recently a coalition of 14
environmental organizations came together and launched the Southern
Rockies Wolf Restoration Project.
is a new endeavor; I do have information about it, if group here would
like to consider joining.
you consider the southern Rockies, I'm going back, focus right on the
southern Rockies ecosystem. When you do that, you've gotta ask, is it
reasonable for the federal government to support additional efforts to
restore the wolves?
done a lot of work, you've done -- the U.S. government -- the USFWS
has done good work in the great lake states, they've got a heck of a
program in the northern Rocky mountains, they've got a solid program
in the southwest, they've done a lot of fine work.
recovery is like an 800-pound gorilla on the back of the USFWS; itís
tough work. You cant please anybody. So you gotta ask, is it
appropriate for them to try to do more? And as you look at this map
you gotta remember their job is not to restore wolves to every spot
where wolves could live, thatís not what they're supposed to do;
they're suppose to recover the species. That will certainly mean that
thereís unoccupied habitat thatís appropriate that remains
unoccupied habitat. But I answer the question should they do more,
affirmatively. Because I look at this and I say recovery doesn't take
place when 5% of the historic range is occupied- or less than 5%. More
work needs to be done, especially in places like the Southern Rocky
Mountains ecosystem. An important first step in doing more work is to
let the FWS know we want more work done. Weíve got to let the
elected officials know that the USFWS has done a great job, but more
work needs to be done. We need to fight for a new idea, we need to
advance the argument that private groups can be intimately involved in
the fieldwork of endangered species recovery. The Turner Endangered
Species Fund is reintroducing several controversial species: desert
big-horned sheep, red cockaded woodpecker, California condors,
Peregrine falcons, black-footed ferret, to name just a few. We
steadfastly believe that private efforts properly permitted and guided
by the Service can result in wolves being restored to the Southern
Rocky Mountains. I have been involved in wolf recovery for 20 years. I
am now redoubling my efforts with a focus on the Southern Rocky
Mountains; I hope you'll join the campaign.
think that we can resolve some wolf livestock conflict by managing
wolves more liberally on private lands. I think we should lower the
bar of tolerance on private land by allowing private citizens to use
lethal control in defense of property.
Private property rights are extremely important in this
country; they rank right up there with mom, apple pie, and baseball. I
know from personal experience that much opposition to wolf recovery
stems from the belief that the process will eventually force
landowners to abdicate rights to stay or federal officials. This
belief is a most powerful motivator. Moreover there exists significant
potential for wolves and livestock to interact on private land. You
know, since 1987 in Northwestern Montana all 42 sheep, 50-51 cattle,
and 4-5 dogs have been killed on private property. If itís possible
to manage animals more liberally, it makes sense to ask, well whatís
the current situation? Can landowners shoot wolves that are attacking
livestock on private property? For the most part, the answer is, no.
Can't do it in Minnesota; populationís threatened. Wisconsin,
Michigan, northwest Montana, endangered status.
Rules: can't do it. Only in experiment non-essential areas can
private landowners take matters into their own hands. I've have begun
to wonder if it wouldn't make sense to manage wolves in a manner
thatís similar to the way manage black bears and cougars on private
land. I believe Minnesota is considering such an approach at this
management on private land is liberalized, safeguards have to be in
place to minimize abuses. For example, did you know, that in Wyoming a
landowner can be compelled by the county commission to grant access to
his or her property against his will to kill menacing black bears or
cougars? It seems to be taking things a bit far. Also, before we would
-- or should endorse more liberal management, I think the antiquated
laws that persecute wolves needlessly need to be removed. Did you know
in Colorado they still have a bounty for wolvesÖon the books? Gotta
get rid of the bounty.
you think about more liberal management on private land, it makes
sense to consider whatís the situation on public land. I believe we
can reduce or resolve wolf-livestock conflicts by managing wolves on
public land more conservatively. Perhaps depredation on public land
should never trigger a management action. Why, why should a cow take
precedence over a wolf on public land? Those that support the cow
would quickly discuss the economics of the situation -- thatís fair,
but lets look at economics. When
considering economics you've got to realize only about 3% of the beef
consumed in the U.S. comes from cattle grazed on public lands.
Moreover, recent research has shown that you can substantially reduce
grazing on public lands without have a negative and significant impact
on Western economies.
certain that we could reduce or resolve wolf-livestock conflicts on
public land if we reconsider grazing. We could maybe change grazing
practices on public lands. For example, maybe we should retire some
allotments. Maybe some allotments should be validated without the
stocking of livestock. At the latter ranch the Turner organization in
cooperation with the USFS is doing just that. Two allotments, 72,000
acres, they developed a plan that allows the allotments to be
validated without livestock being stock. The principle management tool
is prescribed fire, to keep the grasses in a desirable state. Of
course the Leopold Wilderness, where these allotments occur, within
the Gila National Forest is critically important to recovery of the
Mexican Wolf especially if livestock use of the Gila can be reduced.
should- if you wanna talk about wolves and livestock, you gotta talk
about the Taylor Grazing Act. We
should consider repealing or amending the Taylor Grazing Act. That
certainly would facilitate a reconsideration of grazing on public
land. You know 1934 when president Franklin Roosevelt singed the act
into law, the idea was that public land could be improved by leasing
it to ranchers who would make improvements and take care of the place.
In reality, many studies have been conducted; many experts have
concluded that the act has only succeeded in transferring millions of
acres of public land to the private sector for a token fee. I-I- you
gotta get into the Taylor Grazing Act
if you wanna understand wolf-livestock conflicts. Did you know
that permittees only pay about $1.35 per AUM -- animal unit month -- a
cow and a calf for a month- or 5 sheep for one month, is the unit of
consideration for the Taylor Grazing Act. $1.35 per AUM to graze on
public land, yet the program costs $13-$15 to administer? Did you know
that during 1999 fees for grazing on private, non-irrigated lands was
$11 per AUM? Did you know that during the 1980s, 30,000 ranchers in 11
western states, grazed cattle on approximately 300,000,000 acres of
public land? Thatís 16% of the land surface of the continental U.S.
Thatís an area that stretches from Maine to Florida. Now I could
continue with the "Did you know that?" questions about the
Taylor Grazing Act, but I
think the point is made. The Taylor Grazing Act is tantamount to a big
public giveaway of public land. Modifying or repealing the act would
certainly change the way public land is used and that would reduce
said; know that any effort to think about the Taylor Grazing Act
is going to be met with keen opposition. Colleagues of the
Sierra Club informed me that when Dr. Debra Donahue, a law professor
from the University of Wyoming, published her recent book entitled,
The Western Range Revisited, the Wyoming Senate president, Jim
Twyford, began drafting a bill eliminating the Universityís College
of Law. The stakes are high and change is an uphill battle.
considering grazing on public land is extremely important because,
quite simply, the millions of acres of public land in the west
represent the very best last place for wolves. Social tolerance
ultimately defines the capacity of a landscape to support wolves.
Social tolerance has been and always will be greatest on public land.
Any campaign to advance wolf recovery on public land will be met with
great opposition. Thatís a certainty.
finally, I think we can reduce wolf-livestock conflicts, we can
resolve wolf-livestock conflicts, by considering the size of the
footprint that attends every decision that we make. You know, itís
been estimated that humans have wasted 25% of the worldís topsoil
and 20% of the We've. lands. We cut 33% of the forest. Weíve
established the annual habit of consuming 45% of the net
photosynthetic productivity and 55% of the available fresh water. Our
habits as consumers are creating a world where thereís little room
for wolves or anything else for that matter.
are voracious consumers, even of costly items. And one of the most
costly- socially, ecologically, and physically is beef. Some facts
from Jeremy Rifkinís book entitled, Beyond Beef -- you gotta see
100,000 cows are slaughtered everyday in the U.S. Americans consume
23% of all beef in the world. Beef is the most dangerous food in
pesticide contamination, ranks second- I'm sorry, in herbicide
contamination; Ranks second in pesticide contamination; Ranks third in
know it takes 9 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef in a
feedlot steer? You know a middle-class American adult consumes 2,000
pounds of grain each year, 80% in the form of cattle or some other
livestock. An Asian adult, in contrast, consumes 300-400 pounds of
consumption of grain fed beef by a privileged few -- while millions go
without the minimum daily caloric requirements -- is a crisis of epic
wanna do some math.
assume that thereís 300 people in the room today. Letís take a
third of us; 100 folks and letís reduce our consumption of beef by
50%. And then letís assume that us brave souls, 100 strong, find two
people to do the same, right? We recruit two, they recruit two, and
they recruit two, and they recruit two, and they recruit two. We start
with 100 brave souls and we recruit 5 levels deep, everybody agrees to
reduce their consumption of beef by 50%. Letís assume that results
in a consumption of ourÖa reduction in our consumption of grain by
means that each of us (we're now 6,300 strong), have reduced our
consumption of 400 pounds of grain.
two and a half million pounds of grain that could be used to feed some
other fella that might be hungry.
know, you don't have to take moderate ideas, reasonable ideas like
considering how much beef you consume and reducing it possibly. Or
reducing the restrictions on management of wolves on private land, or
increasing the restrictions of management on public land. You don't
have to take extreme ideas to someÖor moderate ideas to some extreme
level, to make a difference. Moderation can be an important part of
any conservation strategy.
you find yourself considering to not participate in some act of
moderation, like reducing your consumption of beef by 50%, because you
look around and you conclude you're just a drop in the sea of
humanity, with little chance of creating a ripple effect, I hope that
you remember the words of the anthropologist Margaret Mead, when she
question the ability of an individual to make a difference, because
thatís the only thing that ever has."
related, recommended reading:
Private Effort to Conserve Biological Diversity
Flying D Ranch Lands of Montana: A History,
by Phyllis Smith
an excellent, related Range Magazine article:
Day at the Wolf Wars