Bad Ranchers, Bad Cows

» February 27th, 2015

Livestock have been severely depleting public rangelands for decades. They do so by trampling vegetation, damaging soil, spreading invasive weeds, polluting water, increasing the likelihood of destructive fires, depriving native wildlife of forage and shelter and even contributing to global warming—all of which has been noted in study after study. Global studies. Peer-reviewed studies. Government studies. Lots of studies going back many years.

So why do people get up in arms about drilling for oil in the Arctic national wildlife refuge, demolished forests and polluted streams, but accept cattle trampling wildlife refuges and national parks, forests and grasslands as if that’s a productive use of our nation’s shared landscape?

Why does that damage—amounting to as much as a one billion dollar subsidy to a very small slice of the livestock industry every year—go unmentioned by a media that so eagerly condemns climate change deniers and proponents of fracking? (Read the Daily Pitchfork’s analysis of the destructive economics of public lands ranching here).


Everyone can recognize an oil-soaked sea bird, a clear-cut forest, a stream that’s been ruined by industrial pollutants and extreme drought and other destructive weather. But few Americans visit the nation’s public grass and forest lands; fewer still know what livestock damage actually looks like on them.

Read more here.

4 Responses to Bad Ranchers, Bad Cows

  1. Rae Sikora says:

    I read every piece you post. I am so grateful for your voice for those with no voice. This is the first time I have had an issue with a title of one of your articles. The cows are not “Bad” ….They are victims in the system of greed and violence. Wish the title did not include them in the blame.

  2. Teresa Wagner says:

    Very important information. Thank you. Shared.

  3. Mountain says:

    “grazing can sometimes lead to greater species richness and diversity”

    From the first study you linked to.

    Bad government, bad policy. The Feds are absentee landlords.

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