Horse News

Bad Ranchers, Bad Cows

by Vickery Eckhoff as published in The Daily Pitchfork

A newly published study offers photographic proof of what ranchers have long denied: the extent to which livestock grazing damages public lands. (Part III of a series on ranchers in the media)

Private Cattle being moved on Antelope Complex while the BLM was removing wild horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Private Cattle being moved on Antelope Complex while the BLM was removing wild horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

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?…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story

Click (HERE) to read Part II of this series

21 replies »

    • It seems with BLM “restoration” projects, taxpayers are getting stuck with the cost of re-seeding areas, conveniently for the ranchers, on grazing allotments.


    • Sounds like a great idea…problem solved! Now, if only we could make it happen! (-: Interesting and informative article on Welfare Ranching…thanks for sharing.


    • Yes, remove the cattle and sheep and return the Wild Horses and Burros that still live in the BLM pens for it is the WH&Bs that have maintained and restored the public lands for eons. Yes, many have been gelded and some mares sterilized with PZP, but they will adjust and reemerge as the source of the protection for our public lands.


      • The BLM gelds ALL stallions. This should’ve been questioned by Congress since the older stallions were going directly to same sex Long Term Holding facilities.


      • Sorry, I knew they were gelding lots but not all. That makes sense as they intend to never return these horses to the wild, and this makes it impossible for them to be restored. The only way to stop them is to save those which are left. Makes for a strong argument if only we can get some of the powerful to listen.


      • Put the Mustangs and the Burros back where they belong Mother Nature will take care of her own……………. She will find a way to reverse the harm done to them,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


  1. Another interesting fact: Did you know horses tear into soil with their hooves as their move across vast lands making it easier for New plant growth to break through hard soils and the moisture tobpenetrate. CATTLE pack and pack and harden to thev extent plants cannot break through dry arid soils.


  2. Its amazing to actually see the before and after photos, none of this damage would have happened if the ranchers had never been allowed to use public lands for their grazing in the first place. If the horses had been left alone to graze and leave horse apples instead of the cow pies you see all around the riparian areas there would be more grassy and healthy areas spreading out from the small creeks. It still looks good the wildlife has come back I’m sure even if you don’t see them.


  3. The problem is that the Sheldon Wild Horses and Burros were also removed despite a long-standing agreement with Velma Johnston (Wild Horse Annie).

    ALL burros and horses to be rounded up in Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
    The Sheldon refuge, located just south of the Oregon and Nevada border about 65 miles from Lakeview, is managed by the Sheldon-Hart National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Lakeview.

    Sheldon Wildlife Refuge had an agreement with Velma Johnston (Wild Horse Annie) and the Wild Horses were to REMAIN in the refuge.

    Craig Downer worked with Wild Horse Annie. The following is from an interview with Craig:
    That’s one thing I remember about my work with Wild Horse Annie. She had established an apparently solid agreement with the Sheldon National Wildlife Reserve, that the horses would be recognized in perpetuity as an integral part of the Sheldon wildlife community. Sheldon had a magnificent herd of horses that remained for nearly four decades thanks to her agreement. The officials there used to say, yes, the horses have been here for centuries and people love to see them, and they integrate well with the pronghorn and other wildlife. There were studies done by Jo Meeker at University of Nevada proving that they harmoniously exist with the pronghorn antelope. But recently there seems to be a vendetta. Basically we are talking about a war of values here.


  4. Awesome, How Much taxpayer money has to be wasted, how many studies has to done, how many precious Mustang lifes have to end , through ignorance and denial???? and total inhumane brutality will happen before the BLM listen to the voices of reason?????? and Proof ????? That Our Precious and soooooo needed Mustangs are essential to the land restoration and thousand of other things that they rectify and renew …………………………….


    • Corruption and control of the BLM is a result of forces from the livestock owners. But truth and exposure are beginning to corrode that control and that corruption. We must continue to speak the truth. Thank you one and all who do.



    This got me thinking… most cattle are already microchipped these days. Why couldn’t the BLM use infrared technology to monitor, locate and count both cattle and wild horses on our public lands? With the millions invested in these poorly performing programs this might offer one way to acquire meaningful data at less expense. The grazing program per some published reports is losing taxpayers in the realm of $10 million A MONTH right now.


    • They wouldn’t need to microchip wild horses to use infrared technology. That is based on heat, isn’t it?


      • Yes. The cattle who are chipped would seem to be easily separated from wildlife, including wild horses. Any WHBs rounded up and PZP’d then returned could perhaps be chipped as well, I dunno. Just seems like an avenue worth pursuing since it might provide accurate inventories as are required by law, and might do so at less cost than the current programs.


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