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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

I knew that John Laundre's Sunday Post entitled "CAN LIVESTOCK BE AN UMBRELLA SPECIES FOR CONSERVATION? would generate "point/counterpoint"...............And two more great contributors to this blog, Ecologist George Wuerthner and Executive Director of PREDATOR DEFENSE, Brooks Fahy feel that John's position does not "weigh heavy".........George states "that unless you build a new dam and get irrigation to the land or something like that--you are not going to see a huge increase in farmland in former grazing lands"............Brooks voices that "John also doesn't mention how fencing for livestock fragments habitat:......... "Fencing in the Inter mountain West is responsible for the deaths of thousands of pronghorn antelope"(Fahy).................As Bill O'Reilly(Fox News) has a tendency to say after fielding two opposing viewpoints, "Thank you gentlemen(Laundre, Wuerthner, Fahy) for a good debate"

From: George Wuerthner
Date: August 30, 2015 at 12:30:12 PM PDT
To: "Wolves, Wolf Facts, Cougars, Cougar Facts, Coyotes, Coyote Facts - Wolves, Cougars, Coyotes Forever"
Subject: Re: Coyotes,Wolves,Cougars..forever!


I can give a quick response. 

First, the vast majority of croplands around the world are used to grow forage for livestock. It's a misnormer to suggest that croplands are feeding people. For instance, most of the new soy bean crops being carved out of Brazil, etc. is used for livestock feed. Less than 1-2% of the world' soy bean crop is consumed directly by humans. The rest is fed to livestock.

In the US, for instance, there are 90 plus million acres planted to corn. Everyone assumes that corn is what we eat when we have corn on the cob, but in reality it is feeder corn for livestock. Same for soy, sorghum, and most of the other grain crops. indeed, the only grain crop where the majority of the crop is consumed by humans is wheat--though even some wheat is fed to livestock as well. We have 130 million acres in hay/alfalfa

Further more John's concerns are unfounded for another reason. Most of the lands that can sustain crops already sustain crops--in fact many of the lands used for crops can't sustain crops, but farmers survive on government subsidies. For instance, much of the wheatlands in Montana do not produce an economically viable crop except every 6-8 years. The rest of the time, the farmers survive on subsidies. The point being that we would not see that much expansion of crops into rangelands in most places because if it could grow crops--even marginally farmers would already have it in crop production.

Unless you can change the parameters--i.e. you build a new dam and get irrigation to the land or something like that--you are not going to see a huge increase in farmland in former grazing lands. The only other exception is the affore mentioned clearing of tropical forests for new soy, pasture, etc. for livestock. But again these are not crops being used by humans.

Growing of other crops we normally consume takes place on a surprisingly small amount of land. For instance in the entire US we hae 100,000 areas in tomatoes, we have 43,000 acres in cucumbers, 116,000 acres in lettuce, etc. Really most of the vegetables we consume (admittedly we import some too) is grown on a very limited amount of land. No more than 4-5 million acres total. Go to page 7 of this pdf. for a list of the total acreage of all major vegetables planted in the US. 

The truth is that a shift to largely vegetarian diet would use a lot less land, and free up land for native herbivores--and predators. 


On Aug 30, 2015, at 12:04 PM, Brooks Fahy ; wrote:

Hi Rick,
It would seem as though John isn't taking into consideration the amount of land used simply to grow livestock feed. For example, in much of Eastern Oregon alfalfa is grown in the high desert. Much of the water to grow the alfalfa is diverted from rivers. Fish suffer from rivers constantly being drawn down. Alfalfa hay is a monoculture crop. Ungulates are typically not welcome visitors on lands that grow hay.

John also doesn't mention how fencing for livestock fragments habitat. Fencing in the Intermountain West is responsible for the      deaths of thousands of pronghorn antelope.

Fence posts also create perches for raptors, which sadly enables them to prey on endangered sage grouse. Cows and sheep also denude/kill native plant species that ungulate species need for cover in their first few weeks of life, as well as for food throughout their lifespan. Cows also destroy riparian areas and introduce non-native plant species to fragile environments.  John also mentions studies to support his theory, but is not specific to what countries/continents those studies are from.

The point that seems to be missing in most of these discussions is the need for humans to stop reproducing at an unsustainable rate. In a world with 7+ billion people shouldn't we also be talking about how Homo sapiens have far exceeded carrying capacity? Shouldn't birth control also be at the forefront of these discussions?

Brooks Fahy
Executive Director
(541) 937-4261 Office
(541) 520-6003 Cell

PREDATOR DEFENSE Helping people & wildlife coexist since 1990

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