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Wolves in Arizona

Published:

Not far from here, the U.S.Government, in their infinite wisdom, has unleased several packs of Mexican Grey Wolves.  These wolves are preying on the rancher's cattle, stalking their children, taking pets for snacks and are on the verge of destroying the local economy. "How romantic", the city slickers cheer "We have wolves in the wild  again".

Whether or not a person in sympathetic to cattle and sheep ranching in the American West, there is an element of compassion that may come into play.  Wolves, not unlike coyotes, are extreme opportunists.  They will eagerly devour a calf , lamb, or elk as it's being born and the mother is helpless.  Even when a wolf isn't hungry, it will run a cow or sheep to death.  Wolves have been photographed stalking human children and adults.  They regularly prey on the cats and dogs of ranchers and kill the pets of campers and hikers.

In the wolve's defense, they are, after all, wolves.  Their nature is to kill.  They are unleased on a public that neither appreciates nor wants them, and there's the "shoot, shovel and shut-up" element at play.  They don't stand a chance of living the life they were intended for. 

Some ranches have been put out of business in the areas of wolf releases.  It hasn't been unusal for a rancher to lose 50% or more of his calf crop to a wolf pack, and the Government requires three "documented" kills before they will relocate or destroy a wolf due to livestock predation.

My great-grandparents were among those who rid this country of wolves, much the same as anyone now would get rid of rats, mice, killer dogs.  My Grandmother was trapped in a sod house, with wolves circling the place, when she was a child.  To pioneer families and ranchers, wolves are not "romantic".   

 

Entry #21

Comments

1.
mymonieComment by mymonie - November 17, 2005, 1:21 pm
I understand your feelings on this. The save all animals groups don't care if a rancher is put out of business as long as the fury animals have their way. Its ashame that rural citizens don't have a say so about what affects their lively hoods. Well, I stop here, could go on for awhile about how little freedoms and such are being taken away by animal do-gooders.
2.
Comment by Rip Snorter - November 17, 2005, 1:33 pm
Seems to me it's an issue that should depend heavily on the ownership of the land. On private land a rancher, farmer, or anyone else oughtn't have to put up with wild animal depredations of livestock, pets, or children.

But if the land is public land where a rancher merely holds a grazing lease part of the price of doing business is putting up with animal depredations resulting from public decisions concerning the use of public land.

Fact is, as you're certainly aware, ranchers on public land currently don't have to bear that cost. They submit their loss claims and the price of the dead livestock is reimbursed at taxpayer expense.

But the problem seems to me to be one about the choices a private land owner has for protecting his livestock on private land against animicules who don't know who owns the land and the livestock. Wolves, hawks stalking poultry, any wild thing stalking any tame thing on private land ought, but won't be, subject to the judgement of the offended livestock owner as to how and whether to rid himself of costly pests.

Just my take on it.

Jack
3.
Comment by Rip Snorter - November 17, 2005, 1:43 pm
I probably ought to add that the entire issue of public land grazing rights and the cost of the leases should probably be out in the public eye and being discussed and debated frequently.

Ranchers who own their own land are having to compete in the auction barn with public-lease ranchers who pay a pittance for grazing leases, don't have to pay taxes on the land they graze and get a lot of help with maintenance of watering systems, fences, etc.

Private ranchers have none of these advantages, and suffer under the further burden of having to bear the cost of animal depredations on their livestock themselves, plus having public owned elk and deer eating their grass, killing their trees and depredating their row crops.

To be honest, I think there's plenty of beef available from privately grazed animals to cover the market. All public lease ranchers are doing is driving down cow prices with their cows produced at an advantage in cost to the beef-raiser.

Jack
4.
Comment by cowgirlpoet - November 17, 2005, 3:00 pm
mymonie; You got it. I probably love animals more than most, and even have sympathy for the wolves, but this seems like a silly project, dreamed up by people who don't have a practical knowledge of what they are dealing with.
5.
Comment by cowgirlpoet - November 17, 2005, 3:01 pm
mymonie; You got it. I probably love animals more than most, and even have sympathy for the wolves, but this seems like a silly project, dreamed up by people who don't have a practical knowledge of what they are dealing with.
6.
Comment by cowgirlpoet - November 17, 2005, 3:21 pm
Rip Snorter; I am one of the fortunate ones who owns land, but I don't completely share your opinion of public grazing. I would LOVE to get my hands on some public grazing (outside of the wolf impacted areas) for exactly some of the examples you point out. Private grazing has become scarce because of the development we are experiencing. It has become a rare thing. Texas is the exception, as most it it is private owned.

Of course, ranches are sold not on a per acre basis, but on a per animal per month (aum) basis. The current cost is about $2500 to $300 per aum. So if a ranch with just a few deeded acres is sold, the price is still very high because of the public grazing leases. Because of development, very few ranchers are willing to hold on to private land because of the value it has on the market. The Nature Conservancy is making offers for the development rights of some of it, which may help the ranch to stay in business, but sells out the rights of future generations. In my part of the country, 640 acres will run only about 8 animal units per month, so holding on to this land for grazing becomes impractical considering the price it will bring on the real estate market.   I'm a sentimental hold-out.

On the side for ranching on public lands, the ranchers have improved the watering systems which helps the wildlife. Land which is grazed on a rotation basis -- not overgrazed -- is healthier and more productive than that which lies unused. Today's ranchers are more likely to be environmentally concious and are aware that only if the land is used wisely will it continue to provide sustenance.

Thank you for the response, Jack, I appreciate the input.
7.
Comment by Rip Snorter - November 17, 2005, 4:02 pm
"On the side for ranching on public lands, the ranchers have improved the watering systems which helps the wildlife."

When watering systems are improved on public lands the cost is a public expense, not an expense of the person who uses the water for his livestock. The reasons for improving the watering systems involved private livestock. Wildlife did pretty well without those improvements for an awfully long time before cows came along and needed watering.

Part of the reason you are making your living in selling those private tracts that used to be working agricultural operations involves the fact you can't make a living raising cows. Neither could the ranchers who subdivided their land for you to sell. That's because cow prices haven't had anything to do with the price of raising cows on private land for a long time. Getting cows into the habit of grazing on land that belongs to the man who has to market them will reduce the number of cows available and hopefully run prices up enough to allow people who do own land for grazing to continue to do so instead of having to sell out to a lot of five-acre rancheristas from California.

Jack

8.
Comment by cowgirlpoet - November 17, 2005, 4:08 pm
Good points to think about, Jack. Thanks.

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