Did you get your cow?


Your article on wolf hunting in Montana was certainly written from a hunter's perspective (given that the writer is a Field & Stream contributing editor), and I respected his take on the issue, complete with those hunter magazine close-ups of people "bagging" a wolf (HCN, 5/10/10). I did find the article wanting from two other angles, however.

First, the main motivation to eliminate wolves from public lands (outside Alaska) is now, and has always been, the livestock industry. Little mention was made of ranchers and their insistent campaign against predators to protect their subsidized and destructive use of our public lands. After all, it was the ranchers, with the help of the federal government, who eliminated wild wolves from the Southwest by 1930. Perhaps a season on public-land cattle would add balance and opportunities for handicapped people to "bag" animals on public lands.

Second, the article failed to expose the crux of environmentalist concerns about the wolf hunt and the Endangered Species Act. An interview with an attorney representing environmental groups would have thrown a very informative light on the story and opened up some of the most interesting issues surrounding wolf hunting.

Tom Ribe
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Kent Hanawalt
Kent Hanawalt
Jun 10, 2010 08:30 PM
I wonder where Mr. Ribe gets his information about the "subsidized and destructive" use of public lands. From an "environmentalist" group I suspect.

I invite him to spend time with any rancher to see what his "subsidies" are. I work very hard be sure that our ranch will be viable for the NEXT 100 years.

And I wonder how Mr. Ribe would respond if a wolf were stalking HIS pets or children.

I often read news stories of bears and lions in populous areas, and they are always quickly removed. Another case of Not In MY Backyard!

There were once wolves and lions where YOU live - wherEVER that is. Why don't our taxes reintroduce them there?
the crux of their concerns is . . . ???
Jun 11, 2010 02:16 PM
Mr. Ribe refers to "the crux of environmentalist concerns about the wolf hunt and the Endangered Species Act". Perhaps Mr. Ribe could elaborate for us on exactly what those concerns are.
More Balanced View
Justin Scharton
Justin Scharton
Jun 14, 2010 08:08 AM
I think Mr. Ribe brings up good points, but is at least as biased as the author of the original article, if not more. I have spent most of my life straddling the fence of the ranching and conservationist camps. I grew up in production agriculture, and my family ranches in SW Montana. However, I work in local conservation and have my Masters in Natural Resource Management.

To me it comes down to the Tragedy of the Commons and a "free lunch." Many ranchers in the West lease public lands to leverage their fee simple property to raise more cow/calf pairs. To some, it is the policy to squeeze every last AUM out of the publicly leased land. Without a strong advocate on the State of Fed side of the issue to make sure best range management is practiced, you have a classic tragedy of the commons issue. However, to say that all ranching in the West is a "destructive" land-use is somewhat niave.

Ranchers have helped keep large tracts of land open in the West but their use of the land, and have provided us plentiful and relatively cheap food for over a century (subsidies and the feedlot paradigm acknowledged). Additionally, many forward thinking ranchers have helped protect their land and lands of others by placing conservation easements on their property.

I guess the take home message is to have a little balance. Just as everyone who doesn't want wolves reintroduced in the West isn't a maniac, so too is everyone who raises beef for American pallate an earth-hater.