Experts say ranching done right improves the environment and wildlife habitat

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian ViewThe title, read and interpreted literally, is spot on. However, Tample jumps the track in the first paragraph of her article.

The Society for Range Management has done more to destroy western ranges than all the cows on earth. From among their “generally accepted principles of range management,”take half- leave half and range “rest” are the two biggest culprits.  The surest way to go broke ranching is to follow the SRM model.A Handbook for Ranch Managers (See

Then she proceeds to quote Chuck Striplen as saying, “…western rangelands have never been a pristine wilderness untouched by humans. We have forgotten the original effects of Native Americans on the land and ecology…” 

Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference ManualSomewhat true but ignores the fact that the American Indian began to slaughter buffalo for “religious purposes” only after he was introduced to the horse. Also, had he been introduced to the D-8 Caterpillar, there would be no Rocky Mountains. — jtl, 418 

By Temple Grandin via Beef Magazine

The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits    The Society for Range Management (SRM) and ranchers and range professionals who participate in SRM are doing wonderful things with grazing to improve rangeland and plant biodiversity. The problem is that the public does not know anything about it.

Combat Shooter's HandbookAfter spending two days at this informative meeting in Sacramento, Calif., I read a very negative article on cattle wrecking rangeland in a recent issue of Harper’s magazine. These types of articles lead the public to believe that cattle should be removed from public lands.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)Yet, the SRM meeting featured many sessions that showed how well managed grazing can provide habitat for wildlife. The water sources that ranchers provide for their cattle also provide water for endangered species such as the California Condor. Both our industry and SRM need to better communicate with the public on environmental stewardship.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2)Several speakers explained that humans have influenced the ecology of the rangeland for centuries. Chuck Striplen, an environmental scientist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute and Aquatic Science Center and a member of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, explained how the historical use of rangeland needs to be studied. He says that western rangelands have never been a pristine wilderness untouched by humans. We have forgotten the original effects of Native Americans on the land and ecology, and learning about the long-term historical effects of humans on rangeland can aid in the development of best management practices, he says.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3)Lynn Huntsinger, a California rancher and UCB professor of environmental science, explains that maintenance of ranches will prevent loss of valuable ecosystems. When ranches are maintained, the land will not be sold for development. In her talk, she explained how stock ponds have served as habitat for endangered Tiger Salamanders.

4 steps to coexist with predators

The SRM meeting also featured a half-day session on ways for ranchers to co-exist with predators. One of the most interesting sessions at the conference, Kent Reeves of Whole Picture Consulting; Hillary Zaranek, a Montana cattle rancher; and Matt Barnes, executive director of Keystone Conservation, all discussed ways to co-exist with wolves. These are four basic principles I have summarized from the entire session.

  1. All dead carcasses and sick, weak animals must be removed. They should be immediately taken far away from areas where cattle or sheep are grazed. Everybody agreed on this. Dead carcasses attract predators, and may encourage them to develop a taste for beef or lamb.
  2. Indiscriminant killing of wolvesor coyotes is a bad idea. Wolves and coyotes form stable territories. Individual packs will develop a taste for different specific foods. A wolf pack that dines on elk and leaves cattle alone will keep other wolf packs out. This same principle applies to coyotes.

The best approach is to remove individual problem animals or a male and female pair that are caught in the act of killing cattle or sheep. Years ago, I learned about this same idea from a Colorado rancher named Dayton O. Hyde. In 1970s and ’80s, people thought his ideas were crazy. Today, those ideas are being accepted. Killing a predator that avoids cattle is very counterproductive.

  1. Cattle need to learn to herd and flock togetherand “stand their ground” when confronted by wolves or coyotes. Isolated animals that are running away become easy prey.

Zaranek explained that wolves prefer elk that run; that’s why cattle need to bunch up in the presence of predators. The great herds of bison that once roamed the Plains would form in a group to provide protection from predators. It is the presence of predators that trigger that instinct.

Reeves and Zaranek both discussed the need to “re-wild” cattle and “rekindle” that herd instinct to bunch together and stand their ground rather than run. An attempt to force cattle into a tight bunch does NOT work, as the cattle will scatter as soon as the cowboys leave. A better approach is to use Bud Williams’ low-stress methods to trigger the natural bunching instinct.

When handlers move back and forth on the edge of the pressure zone, like a border collie does, it can trigger the innate instinct in cattle to bunch up. Cattle that bunch in “soft bunches” can easily graze. Soft bunching as a herd is not panicked milling where cattle move in a circle and the strongest animals force their way into the center of the milling mob.

Rekindling the natural herding instinct is not forcing the cattle together. The principle is to move back and forth in a straight line on the edge of the collective pressure zone. This is the zone where the handler is close enough so the cattle are aware of his/her presence but he/she hasn’t penetrated the flight zone to make the herd move away.  The pressure zone is the area just outside the edge of the flight zone.

  1. Human presence is important, as wolves and coyotes will usually avoid areas where people are present. Riding the range is another effective deterrent. Ranchers who have developed a good relationship with wildlife biologists also get information on where wolf packs are located so cattle can be moved to safer areas.

There were also two sessions on protecting sheep from wolves.  Brian Bean of Idaho’s Lava Lake Land and Livestock, and Dan Macon of Flying Mule Farm in Auburn, Calif., both agree that a herder must be present near the flock. They’ve also learned that llamas and donkeys are effective for coyotes but do not work for wolves.

Typically, these ranchers will use five or six Great Pyrenees guard dogs. More dogs are not recommended because they fight. The puppies must be raised with the sheep, so they will stay with the sheep.

Every night the flock is moved to a new bed ground and electric fence with dangling plastic flags is put up around it. One innovative herder discussed that marking his territory around the bed area with his own urine helped keep predators out.  He was using the same methods wolves and coyotes use to mark their territory.

Temple Grandin is an animal behaviorist and a professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Animal Science.

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View

edited by

Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume

Is now available in both PAPERBACK and Kindle

BookCoverImageMurray N. Rothbard was the father of what some call Radical Libertarianism or Anarcho-Capitalism which Hans-Hermann Hoppe described as “Rothbard’s unique contribution to the rediscovery of property and property rights as the common foundation of both economics and political philosophy, and the systematic reconstruction and conceptual integration of modern, marginalist economics and natural-law political philosophy into a unified moral science: libertarianism.”

This book applies the principles of this “unified moral science” to environmental and natural resource management issues.

The book started out life as an assigned reading list for a university level course entitled Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View.

As I began to prepare to teach the course, I quickly saw that there was a plethora of textbooks suitable for universal level courses dealing with environmental and natural resource economics. The only problem was that they were all based in mainstream neo-classical (or Keynesian) theory. I could find no single collection of material comprising a comprehensive treatment of environmental and natural resource economics based on Austrian Economic Theory.

However, I was able to find a large number of essays, monographs, papers delivered at professional meetings and published from a multitude of sources. This book is the result. It is composed of a collection of research reports and essays by reputable scientists, economists, and legal experts as well as private property and free market activists.

The book is organized into seven parts: I. Environmentalism: The New State Religion; II. The New State Religion Debunked; III. Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; IV. Interventionism: Law and Regulation; V. Pollution and Recycling; VI. Property Rights: Planning, Zoning and Eminent Domain; and VII. Free Market Conservation. It also includes an elaborate Bibliography, References and Recommended Reading section including an extensive Annotated Bibliography of related and works on the subject.

The intellectual level of the individual works ranges from quite scholarly to informed editorial opinion.


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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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2 Responses to Experts say ranching done right improves the environment and wildlife habitat

  1. p says:

    Thank you for sharing Jimmy. it just amazes me that they continually batter at the edges of what works. It’s a past successful strategy that people are catching onto finally and seeing for what it is, a tool to “sway public opinion” used to reduce basic freedoms of many different types.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rich Wilcke says:

    Your comment that if native Americans had had bulldozers there would be no Rocky Mountains almost caused me a burn from guffawing with a cup of hot coffee in my hand. So true! So true!

    Liked by 1 person

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