Mike Hudak’s1 Remarks2
Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014
Arch Park, Gardiner, Montana USA
28 June 2014
Annotations completed 14 August 2014
Brett Haverstick, the primary organizer of this event, has stated five keys to reforming wildlife management in America. Among those keys is removal of livestock grazing from all federal public lands.
This action would certainly end conflicts between public lands ranchers and wolves. And it would end similar direct conflicts with coyotes, prairie dogs, wild horses, and many other species. But the scale of these direct conflicts pales in comparison to the vastly larger number of indirect conflicts with wildlife that would cease if public lands were cattle free.
More than 150 wildlife species federally listed as threatened or endangered, or which are candidates for such listing, or which have been proposed for such listing are harmed, at least in part, by ranching on public lands.
An additional 167 wildlife species are similarly harmed by such ranching, although not so severely that extinction is an imminent concern.
These 317 wildlife species3 are victims of degraded habitat. For example:
• as cattle-trampled streams widen they become shallow. Sun-exposed,
shallow water rises to temperatures that are unhealthy for native fish.4
• Second example: cattle overgrazing weakens soil-stabilizing vegetation,
thereby facilitating soil erosion. Soil washed into streams degrades water
quality. Less-fertile soil that remains is less capable of supporting perennial
vegetation on which wildlife depend for nesting, cover, and forage.5
• Third example: when cattle in upland forests consume fire-prone grasses,
cool fires that remove small trees become less frequent, even
nonexistent. Forests become more dense and their trees more prone to
disease and death during drought. Fires, when they do occur, are of greater
In addition to these indirect harms of grazing on the environment, there are also indirect harms inflicted by ranchers or by the government. Among these harms we find
• an estimated 300,000 miles of barbed-wire fencing7 that thwarts wildlife
migrations and can impale birds,
• an estimated 240,000 miles of roads8 that facilitate the spread of weeds
and facilitate human activities that degrade wildlife habitat such as off-road
vehicle riding (noise/air pollution) and wood cutting (habitat removal), and
• wells that supply cattle with water, but that lower water tables, and thereby
dewater streams and springs. Fish, amphibians and other aquatic inhabitants