Washington ranchers who can show that wolves are making their cattle lose weight could get reimbursed under a new proposal. The rule before the Fish and Wildlife Commission would expand a compensation program for ranchers living in wolf country.
Washington’s cattle ranchers aren’t the first to complain about skinny livestock. Ranchers in Idaho and Oregon also say the reintroduction of wolves has made sheep and cattle move more and eat less.
The people who raise cattle destined to become steak or hamburger on your dinner plate are feeling the pinch. Wildfires this summer have scorched more than a million acres of Northwest rangeland. In addition, the Midwest drought is driving up feed costs across the board.
Now ranches and feedlots are looking to cut their feed costs in the short term. And longer term, have an eye on making the cattle themselves more efficient.
Colby Marshall and his family are trying to breed smaller cattle, like these young steers, that can thrive on just desert grass. It’s one of the ways the Broken Circle Ranch owners are trying to prepare for the next drought and help wildlife.
In the remote valleys of southeast Oregon both birds and cattle flourish. This is where mountain streams feed an oasis of lakes and marshes in the high desert. Cattle ranchers and wildlife advocates have been fighting over that valuable grassland for decades. Now, they’ve struck a delicate truce that keeps both birds and burgers in mind.