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FREE YELLOWSTONE
from domestic livestock


Click on the image above for a high resolution, scaleable view (PDF).

Copies of this poster are available free of charge by contacting Billy Stern at Forest Guardians at: (505) 988-9126 extension 151 or bstern@fguardians.org

 


The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is truly an extraordinary place – one of the few places in our country where all the species of plants and animals that were here prior to the arrival of Europeans to North America still survive. Wildlife abounds here like nowhere else in the contiguous U.S. primarily because 75 percent of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, or 15 million acres, consists of publicly owned lands (National Parks, Forests, Wildlife Refuges, and land managed by the Bureau of Land Management).

But a battle is taking place over who controls our publicly owned land – livestock ranchers or the public. Every blade of grass eaten by wildlife is viewed by ranchers as stolen from the mouths of their livestock. In all of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, only Yellowstone National Park and the National Elk Refuge prohibit livestock grazing. Excluding these two areas, most of the remaining publicly owned land and nearly all of the privately owned land
is available for livestock production. In fact, more cows and sheep graze the public’s land than deer, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, moose, pronghorn, and mountain goats combined.
 


Click on the image above to go to the
Forest Guardians web site.

As a result of the livestock industry’s domination of the Greater Yellowstone landscape:

• Bison are imprisoned inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Those that migrate beyond the Park boundary are hazed back into the Park or are slaughtered by state and federal agencies.

• Grizzly bears and wolves are safe only within the confines of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Outside of these areas they are captured, tranquilized, relocated or killed if they prey on livestock.

• Bighorn sheep are confined to small, isolated mountain ranges. Bighorns that leave their home range to expand into nearby suitable habitat are killed to ensure they do not mingle with domestic sheep grazing on publicly owned land.

• Pronghorn are forced to negotiate 105 fences twice a year in their 120-mile migration between Grand Teton National Park and their winter range.

• Prairie dogs are shot, trapped, and poisoned. Although this extermination campaign is directed at prairie dogs, it has also wiped out the black-footed ferret, swift fox, ferruginous hawk, mountain plover, burrowing owl, prairie falcon, prairie rattlesnake, great plains toad, and many other native species that rely on the habitat created by prairie dogs.

While livestock production on publicly owned land provides a prestigious lifestyle and private profit center for a privileged few, it provides no public benefits. To the contrary, in addition to the negative impacts to wildlife mentioned above, livestock production causes dewatering of streams and destruction of fisheries and riparian habitat; loss of native plant communities and infestations of noxious weeds; an increased potential for disease transmission from livestock to wildlife; and a decrease in small mammal and bird populations.

Livestock grazing comes down to a simple concept: more cows and sheep eating publicly owned forage means less food is available for wildlife, therefore, suppressing wildlife populations below optimum levels. Just as ranchers have the right to graze their private land, U.S. citizens have the right to determine whether they want their land to be grazed by livestock at the expense of wildlife. It is time to demand that our government free the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the nuisance of livestock production on publicly owned lands by ending this program and managing our land for the public benefit.