“Home home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play”
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Wildlife Services, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has killed, through gassing, poisoning and strangulation by snare, 27 million native animals since 1996, including more than 1 million in 2014. The animals have included prairie dogs, gray wolves, mountain lions, black bears, foxes, coyotes and even bald eagles, and possibly a few domestic cats.
The mission of the USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) Wildlife Services “is to provide Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” The WS is a government agency, its programs paid for by the taxpayers and supposedly answerable to all the citizens.
Yet most people, including the politicians responsible for oversight, have little understanding of the seemingly secret activities of this agency. What are the causes for each killing? Why is there a large variation from one year to the next? Is it merely a perception of a threat offered up by a farmer or rancher that causes the WS to kill wildlife? What role does corporate agriculture in general have in setting the “killing” priorities ... or, is it merely part of something much more corrupt and ultimately harmful to all of us?
Piling up the cow manure
In 1885 William A.J. Sparks, commissioner of the General Land Office, in his report to Congress, said
that “unscrupulous speculation resulted in the worst forms of land monopoly … throughout regions dominated by cattle-raising interests.” It has been said often enough that it's more than likely that land in the western states was acquired originally by assorted types of fraud.
The swindle, updated for the 21st century and more efficient, is still a swindle, with the possible consequences far worse today and affecting those that have never seen a real cow.
When a character like Cliven Bundy and his fellow travelers, the very essence of “welfare parasites,” state they will not pay a grazing fee for their cattle, keep in mind that the taxpayers of the United States are providing millions of dollars in indirect subsidies for private land ranchers. The actual federal grazing fee is approximately $1.35 a month per cow-calf pair in 2015, but the market rate on private land averages around $12.00.
One of the more colorful quotations comes from Brian Ertz, chairperson of Sierra Club's National Grazing Team, who said in 2014 in reference to an area on the Idaho-Nevada border: “One of the most cattle-fucked landscapes you'll ever see.”
Actual climate science tells us that one of the main contributors of greenhouse gases comes from meat production. It's also in the realm of possibility that the butchering of wildlife brought to you by the Wildlife Services has been decided by the livestock industry.
Today, desertification, pollution of water, destruction of cover for birds and mammals, mono-culturing of grasslands, deforestation and the destruction of native plants comes to us through poorly regulated grazing. In 1934 in congressional testimony the Forest Service referred to “ cancer-like growth” because of unregulated grazing. More than 70 years later we're still dealing with cancer-like growth and it's not because we don't understand the science today.
In 1946 The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was created, a merger between Grazing Service and the General Land Office. Today it administers more than 247 million acres of public lands, mostly located in the western states. The BLM has sometimes been referred to, with a touch of bitterness, as the Bureau of Livestock and Mines. The question of course is who exactly does the BLM really work for. TO BE CONTINUED