Mike Phillips Wolf Reintroduction Speech



(Note: 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 wmedwid@wolf.org "Supporting the survival of wolves through education since 1985.")


February 24, 2000



Written Transcript

Excerpt from Plenary Session One

Speaker: Mike Phillips

Wolf Symposium February 24, 2000




Our 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.


SPEECH: Mike Phillips


(ah) 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 shoot."


The 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 wolves.


Wolf 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.


In 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.


In war, truth is, without doubt, the first casualty.


Today 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.


In 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 very controversial.


Now, 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.


Throughout 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.


The 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.


As 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.


Wolf-livestock 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 today.


The 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 conflicts.


Another 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.


Harassment 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.  


This work will begin in earnest this summer. Hopefully within a couple of years we'll have some positive results to share.


Guard 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."


Relocating 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.


Anther 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.


During 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 exercise?


As you consider the Northern Rockies control program, itís important to note that lethal control usually only involves about 5% of the population.


Since 1987, lethal control has only involved 10% of the population.


On 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 to breed.


For 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 setting.


They still breed in captivity.


Several studies have determined that wolf populations can sustain human-caused losses of up to 35% without declining.


Experts agree that even in areas where ungulate biomass is fairly low, wolves can tolerate harvest rates of up to 20%.


Another 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.


Now, 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.


The 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. 


They're going to be blamed for a lot of things.


They're going to get blamed for a lot of dead cats and a lot of dead dogs.


I think having a sense of what they're doing will allow the USFWS to make the very best management decisions.


It 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.


I 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 America.


Two 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.


All 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 refuges.


I 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.


The USFWS has had to return some wolves to captivity.


I 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.


Another thing we can do to reduce or resolve wolf livestock conflicts is to support the restoration of wolves to other appropriate, but currently unoccupied, habitats.


As 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.


For 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.


Specifically, 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 reintroduction program.


The overriding impression I get from this slide is: Look at how much habitat is not occupied.


Now I don't argue for wolves everywhere, but I do believe thereís wisdom in looking at places like the Southern Rocky Mountains.


Two studies have done just that. These studies, and in this slide, the Southern Rocky Mountains ecosystem is highlighted by the red dashed line.


It extends from South-Central Wyoming, through Western Colorado into Northern New Mexico.


It 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 of property. 


The 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.


The 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.


This is a new endeavor; I do have information about it, if group here would like to consider joining.


When 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?


Theyíve 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.


Wolf 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.


I 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 time.


If 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.


If 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.


Itís 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.


We 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 wolf-livestock conflicts.


That 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.


Nonetheless, 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.


And 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.

We 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 these facts.


Some 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 insecticide contamination.

You 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 grain.


The consumption of grain fed beef by a privileged few -- while millions go without the minimum daily caloric requirements -- is a crisis of epic proportions.


LetísÖI wanna do some math.


Letís 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 25%. 


That means that each of us (we're now 6,300 strong), have reduced our consumption of 400 pounds of grain.


Thatís two and a half million pounds of grain that could be used to feed some other fella that might be hungry.


You 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.


If 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 said,  "Never question the ability of an individual to make a difference, because thatís the only thing that ever has."


Thank you.




Additional related, recommended reading:




A Private Effort to Conserve Biological Diversity





The Flying D Ranch Lands of Montana: A History, by Phyllis Smith






For an excellent, related Range Magazine article:


Groundhog Day at the Wolf Wars


By Barney DeGear



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