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  • Staci-lee Sherwood

Grazed to death : How the Livestock Grazing program on public lands cause dead zones & extinctions

Updated: Sep 23


By Staci-lee Sherwood



For most Americans getting dinner means going shopping at the market or calling in a takeout order. Few have any idea where their food comes from or all that goes into getting it on their table. For many the lifecycle of food from cradle to grave would be a shocker; economically, politically and ethically. First let’s look at the true cost of livestock. This factors in many things not usually listed on the recipe given for the public to digest. Those ingredients are designed to mask the true cost they, as taxpayers, bear along with the massive damage done to our public lands and the horrific abuse so many species of animals endure.



This means that your McDonald’s burger of $2.49 would really cost more like several hundred dollars. We know from the Bureau of Land misManagement (BLM) own data there are approximately 1.8 million cows that graze on our public lands. We know the BLM considers an adult with a calf to be counted (and charged) as one animal. To put this cost into perspective the ranchers pay a daily fee that wouldn’t buy you a first class postage stamp. The fee structure is based on weight so the monthly AUM (animal unit month) which has a mature cow and suckling calf count as ‘one’ animal fails to consider the mama cow eats for two.



I guess I must have gotten a different education in math because 1 + 1 = 2 even if they are not the same size. In 1978 the Public Rangelands Improvement Act passed and set up the grazing fee schedule. Currently ranchers pay $1.35 / per month or less than a nickel day for each animal unit. The grazing program would evaporate if not heavily subsidized by taxpayers. According to the Center for Biological Diversity more than $100,000,000 in direct subsidies go to ranchers every year.

In 2015 the Center commissioned resource economists to study the economic costs of livestock grazing on public lands. We found that the federal lands grazing program generated $125 million less than what the federal government spent on the program in 2014. Further, we found that federal grazing fees are 93 percent less than fees charged for non-irrigated western private grazing land, or just $1.69 per animal per month for each cow and calf that grazes the public land. (It costs more to feed a house cat.)”



Another problem encountered with the grazing program is with unauthorized grazing. The true number of instances is not known, because many cases are handled informally by agency staff. According to the GAO during the five-year period spanning 2010 to 2014, BLM and FS documented as many as 1,500 instances of unauthorized grazing. Some of these did involve the livestock owner paying a penalty and, less frequently, livestock impoundment. In some cases the unauthorized grazing was unintentional, but in many others the livestock owners had intentionally grazed cattle on federal land without getting a permit or paying the required fee. The livestock owners have claimed that they do not need to have permits or pay grazing fees. This is what happens when bad policy mushrooms out of control and no one bothers to reign in the fraud. So much for fiscal responsibility we keep hearing about from Congress.



They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This chart should be worth about 40,000 wild horses and however many wild burros we have left, if we have any left. I use the figure of 40,000 which would be total wild horses both on the range and in holding cells but who knows how many or few we really have left. The only number we know not to be accurate is the one touted by BLM of 80,000 no way is that inflated number close to being true. In fact neither the BLM, nor any federal agency, has ever proven how many wild horses and burros live on the range. They have always just grabbed a number that sounded like a lot threw it up on the wall and pointed to it as ‘proof’. Real proof in a court of law requires actual verified data that stands up to auditing.



As anyone but a blind man can see the land given to damaging livestock is almost all of it. The non native destructive resource absorbing livestock gets the lion share for pennies on the dollar. The native supposedly protected endangered wild horses and burros are forcibly removed abused then either stuck in outdoor lots or shipped off to be violently killed for foreigners to eat. That’s if they survive the removal process of being run to near death while avoiding barbed wire and being trampled. Their reward is a barren existence or death. For the wild horses returned but sterilized they come back to a fragmented family band or a lonely existence of starting over.



There’s nothing like using someone’s own words and facts against their lies and pr spin. The BLM is so bloated with arrogance they no longer bother to come up with plausible excuses. Avoiding transparency has always been a joke with this sketchy crowd. Openly breaking federal law is now a favorite pastime for the public servants who forgot the annual budget passed by Congress is really just welfare subsidized by taxpayers.




Land, water and wildlife thrived long before humans landed on planet earth and do best when they are nowhere to be found. The billions of dollars bestowed on these employees are gifts not mandates, they can be taken away at any time. No animal or park will suffer either since every agency under the purview of the Dept of Interior has become a bastion of twisted corrupted policy of torture and abuse. The only ones who benefit from the budget are the worthless bureaucrats clinging to their government jobs they have because no one else would hire them.




The true cost of livestock has been hidden from the public and at times seems to be more valued than state secrets and just as hard to uncover. Peel back the layers of the following costs taxpayers pay and you see how much livestock really costs us as a country as a national economy and how many areas it touches:


· Polluted water from animal agriculture waste and cleanup if possible

· Cattle destroy soil and stream banks

· Barren land due to cows pulling up vegetation by the roots

· Cattle destroy native vegetation which also kills off those species dependent on it

· Methane from belching/farting cows which has been studied for years making the Greenhouse gas (GHG) effect worse

· Destruction from stampedes that destroy the ecosystem of insects and mammals that live and forage close to the ground

· Restoration of damage land if possible

· Restoration of endangered and displaced species due to livestock having precedence

· Rising health costs from all the sick people who consume high fat undigestable animal protein who then get sick with cancer, heart disease, hypertension , diabetes and high cholesterol

· High cost from consuming sick animals pumped full of hormones and antibiotics that the human immune system



Add all that up and the cost is in the billions. There are still more costs hidden from the public. Take for example the commonly used excuse of ‘drought’ often followed by ‘starvation’ and lack of food. The BLM will claim a drought often without proof as an excuse to brutally remove our protected wild horses and burros. Public servants like Steve Leonard, who is listed as the wild horse and burro specialist at Canon City prison (a facility rife with corruption, abuse and missing horses) and Bill Purdy who is the Wyoming spokesman (a state who is exterminating 90% of their wild horses) will broadcast this dribble.



Meanwhile their friendly thugs like the Cattoors and Sun J descend on our public land to wreak havoc while collecting millions. At the same time taxpayer money is funneled to ranchers to cover the cost of transporting water to their livestock. Taxpayers also foot the bill for loss of grazing. Wild horses are treated like criminals while non native cattle are treated like royalty all thanks to the taxpayer. No one can know the total cost of the BLM grazing program but it’s billions just from what is listed. Now you see how that cheap $2.49 burger is really hundreds of dollars and that’s a lot of money and a lot of damage for burger.



Yes you read that right in our ‘capitalist’ economy there is more socialism and welfare doled out by alleged conservatives than any liberal could ever dream of. In a true capitalist economy the ranchers that can’t afford land and water would go bankrupt as any other business would. Instead our government bends to the will of ranchers like a cowering man fearful of his overbearing wife.



The National Academy of Science could not find any science or rationale for any claims made by the BLM regarding their wild horse & burro program. The wild horse and burro program destroy not only the ties each band has but their native uniqueness per herd policies.



As you can see from the handouts created by Peer & the Cloud Foundation it’s clear by BLM own data that it’s the livestock creating huge RED zones of damage. The areas where the wild horses graze barely make an appearance because they benefit our public lands by helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem. The entire grazing program is predicated on false manipulated data designed to fit the rancher’s agenda. There is no science involved because the BLM has been infiltrated by ranchers and hunters. A coup d’etat if you will has taken over this and other agencies and forced policy change to reflect their own personal agenda.





Out of sight out of mind is the BLM motto



A close up view of the damage done by livestock not horses



By now you must think there is no hope for our public lands after being ravaged for decades by livestock. There is hope but only if we as a country unite in truth. As long as this country is run on the dollar agenda for the few nothing will ever change no matter how hard we hit rock bottom and we are almost there.



In contrast to the horrors and wasteful cost of livestock wild horses actually benefit the land. According to the Cana Foundation wild horses provide a long list of benefits to the land. “ Horses and burros rebuild soils by contributing more organically intact droppings. These act as long-lasting fertilizers, contributing more humus to the earth. Wild horses and burros also spread a more intact seed as they forage which creates a wider diversity of seeds thereby replenishing their own food supply naturally. They also tend to graze on more aggressive plants that if left unchecked would out compete with more fragile vegetation thereby maintaining a balanced ecosystem humans are not able to recreate. "



We see this scenario all the time when non natives are introduced and kill off their competing native neighbors by sucking up the water, land and space while killing off the competition. Wild horses keep that problem in check. Circling back to how cattle destroy and stampede the land killing the native vegetation and the species dependent on them to survive wild horses actually prevent this. Let’s not forget that cattle can run in mammoth herds numbering in the several hundreds up to thousands. Wild horse bands of family members are far smaller often being only a few dozen. The sheer numbers show the utter impossibility of the BLM ‘facts’ about damage done by native wild horses VS non native destructive cattle. Add to the grazing mix sheep and the problem gets much worse.



More good news wild horses can prevent wildfires naturally. Instead of those prescribed burns which almost always burn out of control and release toxic chemicals into the environment by using chemicals to start the fire, wild horses do this naturally. In 2019 a thorough 5 year study was done examining the effects wild horses had on the land they inhabit. According to author William E. Simpson II his study “Impact Of Wild Horses On Wilderness Landscape And Wildfire – Preliminary Findings” had finding ‘that wild horses could have a major impact on reducing fire damage, by their specific way of grazing, locally taking out large volumes of fuel, and thereby creating landscapes that are less vulnerable for large scale wildfires.’ The full study can be found in a PDF here (copy & paste)



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It gets better, on the site horsetalk, they talk about that big looming problem global warming which is the current issue for the Biden/Harris administration or so they tell everyone it is. Wild horses and burros ‘play a major role in combating global warming and do this in a variety of ways. One of these concerns their superior ability to sequester, or “lock away”, carbon. They remove carbon from the atmosphere, where, in the form of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases, this element accelerates a dangerous, oven-like increase in temperatures on the entire planet Earth. ‘ Seems the BLM, Secretary Haaland, President Biden, the Dept of Interior and most of Congress have been looking at and blaming the wrong species for all these problems.



A quick recap is cows CAUSE water pollution, soil erosion, wildfires, species loss, biodiversity loss, massive sick humans, billions of tax dollars wasted and greenhouse gas. Wild horses DO NOT CAUSE any of this and in fact prevent most of this from happening. Seems clear the US should ditch their costly wasteful unsustainable addiction to livestock built on fraudulent data and return our wild horses and burros to our public land. This is truly in the best interest of the country for long tern survival. A house of cards always falls down eventually.



A final thought. If livestock trespass on private property that land owner can take custody of said livestock notify the rancher or sheriff until a settlement is reached.



*The public land is owned by the public taxpayer so we are the private property owners. We did not give consent to livestock grazing or drilling. The livestock are trespassing and the public should take custody and remove the offenders. The BLM gave their consent (but not the land owners consent) to ranchers but lack the authority since they are not the owners of the land they are the hired managers of the land owned by taxpayers. They can only manage the land with consent and nothing else.



Imagine if your gardener who you hire to manage the land you own removed or added plants without your consent you would fire him. If his actions destroyed your land you would sue. How is this any different in principle ?


For more truthful information:


https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2021/07/17/horses-carbon-sequesters/


https://grazelife.com/blog/wild-horse-fire-brigade-lessons-in-rebalancing-north-american-ecosystems-by-rewilding-equids/#:~:text=Furthermore%2C%20wildfire%20grazing%20by%20wild,gases%20and%20toxic%20wildfire%20smoke.


https://peer.org/interior-wild-horse-focus-ignores-cattle-impacts/?fbclid=IwAR0b-GODtZj81mlTinBIo5zp1PAqzxSAvoghEpi5WdMjyFRrj-irSQji8SQ


https://rtfitchauthor.com/about/


https://canafoundation.org/


To voice your concerns to those suppose to represent you:


Look up your Senator here

https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.ht

Look up your House of Representative here

https://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep


President Biden: whitehouse.gov | 202-456-1111

Vice President Harris: whitehouse.gov | 202-456-1111

Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland: exsec_exsec@ios.doi.gov | 202-208-3100

BLM Deputy Director Tracy manning Stone: 202-208-3801

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