Retiring Livestock Grazing Permits is An All-Around Win for Wild Horses and Public Lands
Public lands ranching has been the cause of the degradation of our nation's western rangelands for many decades. It contributes significantly to desertification and the worldwide climate crisis. Seeking to pin the blame elsewhere, livestock enterprises blame wild horses and burros for the damage done by their own exploited animals.
Because the Bureau of Land Management kowtows to these animal abusing special interest groups, wild horses and burros are mercilessly rounded up to assuage the livestock ranchers who want the forage on our public lands for their personal profits. Wild equids are traumatized and injured during every step of the process of capture, separation from their families, and incarceration in crowded, filthy, disease-ridden, dry lot pens with no shelter from the elements—with many of them languishing in pain and misery before dying prematurely.
Through antiquated laws such as the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, grazing permits are awarded to private livestock operators subsidized by taxpayers. Initially, the law only permitted 80 million acres to be grazed this way, but now there are no limits on the number of grazing districts operating under the Department of the Interior. The law was amended and now roughly 162 million acres are parceled into grazing allotments. The fee is a mere $1.35 per cow/calf pair, which is absurdly below the fair market cost of about $23.00. The grazing program costs taxpayers many millions of dollars every year.
Ecologists, environmentalists, and other eco-scientists have proven how livestock grazing is ruinous to arid and semi-arid western public lands with well-documented and peer-reviewed studies. The Healthy Public Lands Project (HPLP) is a network of local, regional, and national conservation groups. Their vision is “to ensure that public lands are managed to prioritize healthy ecosystems for wildlife and present and future generations.” The HPLP recently held a Healthy Public Lands Conference, where the studies presented conclusively proved how detrimental livestock grazing is to western public lands.
The U.S. Congress has a chance to do something about saving public lands with the recently introduced Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (VGPRA) (H.R.6935). If ranchers no longer want to utilize their grazing permits, they can be offered to other livestock operators under the current system. If the VGPRA becomes law, permit holders would have the option to waive their permits to graze on federal lands voluntarily. Private parties would then compensate the rancher, and the federal agency would permanently retire the associated grazing allotment.
The VGPRA is a win/win/win solution for all involved, including our stressed public lands and wild horses and burros.
In Defense of Animals will continue to fight for wild horses and burros. Please consider joining our fight. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit our Wild Horses and Burros campaign.
Also, please remember that it’s never too late to make the connection between how consuming the products made from some animals such as cattle and sheep causes the suffering and deaths of not only those animals, but other animals such as wild horses and burros and bison who all also forage for grass, and are killed for “competing with” cattle and sheep. Changing habits saves lives.