Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


OSU paper calls for fewer cattle, more wolves to 'rewild' the West

Beef cattle

Some 110,000 square miles of federal land in the West should be closed to cattle and restocked with wolves and beavers, according to a paper by Oregon State University scientists and others.

Appearing Aug. 9 in the journal BioScience, the paper identifies 11 blocks of federal land spread over 11 states for a “Western rewilding network.”

The paper’s 20 signers include six OSU scientists, professors from other schools, conservationists and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Daniel Ashe.

They propose reducing the amount of federal land grazed in the West by 29% — equal to the size of Nevada — and also limiting logging, mining, oil and gas drilling and off-road vehicles.

Once rid of “troublesome nonnative species,” the network would advance President Biden’s executive order to conserve 30% of the U.S. by 2030, the authors said.

“Although our proposal may at first blush appear controversial or even quixotic, we believe that ultra ambitious action is required,” they wrote.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said the proposal ignores the rights of ranchers and the importance of widespread food production that can withstand regional catastrophes.

“The American West is vitally important as a protein source, beef and lamb, and is ideally suited for protein production,” he said.

“It is a shortsighted and unrealistic proposal that does not consider the economic and social impacts it would have, uprooting entire communities that are valuable contributors to the economic welfare of this nation,” Bullard said.

The proposal identifies blocks of federally owned land in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah for the rewilding network.

The network would include Olympic National Park, and the North and South Cascades in Washington.

Other blocks in the network would include the Blue, Klamath and Cascade mountains in Oregon; the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and the Northern Rockies in Idaho.

The proposal intertwines reducing cattle on federal land and wolf recovery. The paper argues that livestock grazing threatens endangered species and contributes to climate change.

Grazing permits could be retired with an “economically and socially just federal compensation program,” according to the authors.

The paper’s lead co-author, OSU ecology professor William Ripple, was unavailable. Co-author George Wuerthner of Public Lands Media in Bend said removing cattle from federal lands would have the most impact.

“If I were king, that would be the first thing I would do,” he said.

“This is sort of a big-picture proposal. I think all of us realize a final version will have a lot of political compromises,” Wuerthner said. “You throw it out there and it takes a while and provides a target that you can have as a goal.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association natural resources director Kaitlynn Glover said rewilding campaigns ignore ranchers’ contributions to keeping landscapes open.

“Removing livestock grazing — a valuable tool to reduce fuels for wildfires and an important protector of biodiversity — will lead to new and exacerbated threats to vast areas of the West,” she said in an email.

The paper called for wolves to be federally protected throughout the country. Currently, wolves in the Rocky Mountains are not federally protected.

Restoring beavers would repair riparian habitat and enrich fish habitat, according to the authors.

Ashe was USFWS director from 2011 to 2017 during the Obama administration. He is now president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Other authors include five other OSU scientists and Aaron Wirsing of the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

Other authors are from the Ohio State University, Virginia Tech, the University of Victoria, Michigan Technological University, National Park Service, Earth Island Institute of Berkley, Calif.

Also, Turner Endangered Species Fund of Bozeman, Mont.; Florida Institute for Conservation Service, and RESOLVE, a conservation group based in Washington, D.C.



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Saturday February 11, 2023 12:39 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2022, All Rights Reserved