Earlier, I posted this as a comment, but I think the issue is important enough this it be a post.
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I don’t think people realize that the western livestock industry and many outfitters have a mindset that does not value wildlife at all. All animals, including wildlife, are valued only as a commodity. And one of the best ways to maximize the private profitability of these animals is to own them and feed them.
From this viewpoint, wildlife is just plain inefficient. Put them in an enclosure and maximize their size. End of discussion.
Have people noticed that many former woolgrowers are getting into the elk farming/elk shooting business because it is more profitable than raising sheep?
Stan Boyd, who seems to have tremendous influence over the governor of Idaho and the state legislature works for both the Idaho Elk Breeders Association and the Idaho Woolgrowers.
Many outfitters are also ranchers, and so their view of wildlife is the view of the livestock they raise. Elk are just livestock they don’t have complete control over.
Now that they seem to have won on the wolf issue (wolves having no value as livestock), they are ready to start removing bighorn sheep from the public lands because their grip on bighorn is slipping.
As Robert Hoskins has repeatedly written, the Wyoming legislature is moving more and more to restrict Wyoming Game and Fish Department, prevent them from even holding public land grazing permits (where elk could graze in the winter), and to further promote the feedlot practice of elk management.
For those who didn’t follow these issues before the wolves were reintroduced, the Western Livestock Industry had no use for any carnivore, or any animal that is inherently non-game (like bluebirds, or desert tortoise).
They tolerate elk, deer, moose, pronghorn as long as these animals don’t interfere with their livestock operations and they receive “depredation” payments from the Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife (or whatever the state calls it), if these generally useless animals get into their haystacks or fields.