The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
The yahoo jihad at the wildlife refuge in Oregon is part and parcel of the larger problem across the public lands of the West including here in Colorado. Ranchers aren't just occupying that federal building in Oregon, they've been occupying our public lands across the West for over a century and that occupation has been armed, violent and completely subsidized by state and federal taxpayers.
Here in Colorado, that occupation is proposing to take yet another extremist step forward as the Colorado Wildlife Commission considers a resolution on Jan. 13 at its Denver meeting to “oppose wolf reintroduction" in our state. Wolves have been reintroduced to many of the states surrounding Colorado including Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may soon consider reintroducing wolves into Colorado too.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
A keystone species that protects and restores wild landscapes, wolves—like American Indians—were almost completely and violently exterminated from the U.S. when ranchers arrived in the 1800s and colonized and assimilated the Western landscape. Wolves were slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands—trapped, poisoned, mutilated—until every last animal in Colorado was killed. This slaughter was and still is, paid for by the American taxpayer.
The cow and sheep industry is heavily subsided across the public lands of Colorado, so much so that the some ranchers are often called “welfare ranchers." They pay almost nothing to send hundreds of thousands of livestock across our public lands sometimes obliterating the natural landscape as the livestock devour native grasses, pound the soil into dust, and wallow in and destroy streams and rivers. They also pay almost nothing to have the state and federal government exterminate native American wildlife on our public lands—wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, even eagles—that sometimes prey on calves and lambs. The epitome of this extermination is the “aerial gunner men" hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fly helicopters over our public lands and kill thousands of coyotes with shotgun blasts from the sky every year.
Further, the state of Colorado actually pays ranchers for the “damage" that native American wildlife do to domestic livestock. If a mountain lion eats a domestic sheep, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife pays the sheep rancher for the “damage" that lion caused to the rancher. Further yet, if that lion keeps eating sheep, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will go out and kill the mountain lion.
The elk and deer hunting industry in Colorado is also a mess. Millions of dollars are made every year by ranchers and outfitters to make sure that fat, lazy elk and deer are easy targets for hunters who pay large price-tags to take home a set of antlers and freezer full of meat. In some cases, elk and deer are practically baited on private property where ranchers leave hay fields for forage and then let hunters sit around on opening day waiting for the biggest buck or bull to saunter in for breakfast.
Of course, not all ranchers are on welfare—some graze their livestock responsibly on public land, don't kill predators and even support wolf reintroduction. And not all hunters want to sit around on opening day and wait by a hay field to shoot a fat, lazy elk. Some hunters want to actually “hunt" a wild ungulate that has been chased by a wolf and also support wolf reintroduction.
Wolves have a right to be on the landscape. They're native animals, were here first and are keystone species that protect and restore wildness. In areas where wolves are reintroduced, elk and deer are healthier as wolves cull the old, sick animals and keep the others scurrying away from a wolf's fang. Exercise improves everyone's health, including deer and elk. The landscapes are healthier too—elk and deer are forced to keep moving instead of standing in a meadow or stream overgrazing the grasses and willows. In places where wolves have returned, scientists find healthier landscapes with more song birds, more wildlife and more biological diversity.
On Jan. 13 at the next meeting of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, the commissioners will consider a resolution to “oppose wolf reintroduction" in Colorado. I urge you to contact the Commission and tell them to vote “no" on this resolution. You can click here to send them an email now.
We should oppose welfare ranching, not wolves, in Colorado. The armed, violent jihad that is occupying and destroying our public lands across Colorado and the West must stop.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Derrick Z. Jackson
As much as hurricanes Katrina and Maria upended African American and Latinx families, the landfall of the coronavirus brings a gale of another order. This Category 5 of infectious disease packs the power to level communities already battered from environmental, economic, and health injustice. If response and relief efforts fail to adequately factor in existing disparities, the current pandemic threatens a knockout punch to the American Dream.
'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups Move to Preempt Big Oil Giveaway Amid Pandemic
By Andrea Germanos
A coalition of climate organizations strongly criticized President Donald Trump's in-person Friday meeting with the chief executives of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, saying the industry that fueled climate disaster must not be allowed to profiteer from government giveaways by getting bailout funds or preferred treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.
An Important Note
No supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification — aside from social distancing and practicing proper hygiene — can protect you from developing COVID-19.
The strategies outlined below may boost your immune health, but they don't protect specifically against COVID-19.
By Zak Smith
It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:
By Hector Chapa
With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.
But can these masks be effective?