I agree with Mr. Conniff’s response that predators could control the horse problem. First, the cattle have to go. The cattle use range resources that should support pronghorn and other wildlife species.
Cattle are probably as adapted to predators as other species, but as a preferred species, cattle numbers are artificially high. The result is that cattle, and more recently horses, have overused the range and eliminated other species.
Analysts report that cattle numbers on the ranges have been declining, and currently represent a tiny fraction of the national economy. No significant number of jobs or other economic or political issues would be impacted if we shutdown cattle ranching. Perhaps it’s time that we hired ranchers to become conservationists and work to maintain the range for wildlife. The ranchers I’ve met claim to know and care for the land. So why not suspend cattle grazing on the public lands and hire the ranchers as stewards of the land. This would give ranchers stable income, and it would benefit the national economy.
Today’s New York Times has a report on the wild horse population boom in the American West, and for once, I agree with the ranchers: Bizarre federal policies over the last 40 years have caused wild horses to run out of control, causing rampant overgrazing while also running up out-of-control costs (currently $50 million a year) to house horses that have been taken off the land, but can’t be euthanized.
The federal policies are the result of misguided sentimental attitudes about a favored species, the same sort of attitudes that cause city people to feed feral cats in parks that would otherwise be havens for wildlife. If animal rights activists want to protect excess horses from being euthanized, or sold for meat, they should be picking up that $50 million cost of housing them, not taxpayers.
And here’s an idea for the ranchers: If you want to keep down the…
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