Grazing fees, the economics of elk and cattle

This is the kind of (mostly productive) conversation that gives me hope for HT. Glad I found this at the end of this week.

There is enormous value for us to keeping rangeland rangeland, and how grazing is vitally important to keeping wildlife populations viable. But regarding PERC's idea, here's a more neutral take:

 
This is the kind of (mostly productive) conversation that gives me hope for HT. Glad I found this at the end of this week.

There is enormous value for us to keeping rangeland rangeland, and how grazing is vitally important to keeping wildlife populations viable. But regarding PERC's idea, here's a more neutral take:

Cautiously optimistic to giving it a try. I just wonder where long term funding will come from. I also wonder how much money is currently set aside by the 2 private orgs mentioned?

The skeptic in me sees the program take off, private funding drying up, and the MTFWP, via license dollars paying the freight. I'm also concerned that paying for things like this, incentivises landowners to harbor even more elk. More elk = more rent payments.

Wyoming has a bill right now in the 24 session, to do essentially the same thing. Only difference is the program would be paid for by GF funds to the tune of 1.65-12 million a year. That would mean loss of GF programs, like stocking fish, less money for access, etc. Again it would also have the opposite effect of controlling elk numbers, it would give an incentive to increase elk numbers to increase the sportsman funded subsidy.

It's a slippery slope, imo.
 
Cautiously optimistic to giving it a try. I just wonder where long term funding will come from. I also wonder how much money is currently set aside by the 2 private orgs mentioned?

The skeptic in me sees the program take off, private funding drying up, and the MTFWP, via license dollars paying the freight. I'm also concerned that paying for things like this, incentivises landowners to harbor even more elk. More elk = more rent payments.

Wyoming has a bill right now in the 24 session, to do essentially the same thing. Only difference is the program would be paid for by GF funds to the tune of 1.65-12 million a year. That would mean loss of GF programs, like stocking fish, less money for access, etc. Again it would also have the opposite effect of controlling elk numbers, it would give an incentive to increase elk numbers to increase the sportsman funded subsidy.

It's a slippery slope, imo.
I'm right there with you Buzz. I don't see how it is scalable without getting public tax and/or license money involved.
 
Cautiously optimistic to giving it a try. I just wonder where long term funding will come from. I also wonder how much money is currently set aside by the 2 private orgs mentioned?

The skeptic in me sees the program take off, private funding drying up, and the MTFWP, via license dollars paying the freight. I'm also concerned that paying for things like this, incentivises landowners to harbor even more elk. More elk = more rent payments.

Wyoming has a bill right now in the 24 session, to do essentially the same thing. Only difference is the program would be paid for by GF funds to the tune of 1.65-12 million a year. That would mean loss of GF programs, like stocking fish, less money for access, etc. Again it would also have the opposite effect of controlling elk numbers, it would give an incentive to increase elk numbers to increase the sportsman funded subsidy.

It's a slippery slope, imo.

I don't see how the WY bill isn't a diversion of PR funds. Most of the damage compensation programs are already in somewhat of a grey area (for ungulates) as I understand it and the USFWS has been taking a stricter approach on this issue as state legislatures try to loosen the purse strings on hunter/angler license dollars.

Maybe since WY's program has been in place for a while it's grandfathered in? It was a fairly small program when I left in 07 but I understand it's grown significantly over the last 15 years or so.

When damage bills have been run in the MT legislature, the diversion issue is the big hammer used to kill them. You can get around that by using general fund dollars, but when it's up to the legislatures to take tax dollars and put them to use, they generally end their efforts.

The PERC program is capped at $12K per ranch and requires a significant showing of use to qualify for the payment. The use of camera traps to quantify elk usage is very interesting in terms of how that could influence conservation leasing or conservation easement payments (higher wildlife value - higher payment). The folks who have developed this will be the first to agree that scaling this statewide would be difficult at best, but they're working on refining this to see how it can work on a longer term. Knowing the Kinke's (one of the places this is occurring), they don't want elk to linger too much on their property because they get elk during the migration, and not so much during the hunting season.

Scaling that program up to a state-wide level would cost tens of millions and without a large benefit to the public at large beyond the conservation value alone, I don't see many states implementing it as is, but I do think that pieces of it can advance how we do things in terms of valuing landowner contributions to conservation and better defining wildlife usage for public dollars being spent for perpetual, or long term, conservation work.
 
Funny how things have changed. Now the land “unclaimed”(blm) in north eastern Montana would be the first stuff homesteaders would want. This on account it’s the best mule deer/antelope/elk habitat in R6.
So true. The hunting lease might make you more than the cattle you could run on the property.
 
valuing landowner contributions to conservation
This is one of the sticky wickets that I find so interesting amongst much of this: many landowners are not in it for conservation... actually, most aren't. They are maximizing the feed on their land for their cattle for profit and to keep their businesses going (nothing wrong with this, they have to make a living). No doubt, wild animals benefit from this, and I'm all for "cows not condos" to keep it that way, or better yet: "bison not bros" (it's a working slogan, open to suggestions).

But the fact that wildlife benefits from a ranch is ancillary to the purpose of why ranchers steward the land. It's for the cows, not the elk. Something that I think rubs so many people the wrong way is the inherent tension in this fact; many landowners are asking to be appreciated for inadvertently helping wildlife exist. The underlying premise of "you should be grateful and subsidize me because one of the inherent risks of how I make a living happens to benefit you too" is problematic for alot of people.

Which then goes to the case law citied in that article, full quote here:

Montana is one of the few areas in the nation where wild game abounds. It is regarded as one of the greatest of the state's natural resources, as well as the chief attraction for visitors. Wild game existed here long before the coming of man. One who acquires property in Montana does so with notice and knowledge of the presence of wild game and presumably is cognizant of its natural habits. Wild game does not possess the power to distinguish between fructus naturales and fructus industriales, and cannot like domestic animals be controlled through an owner. Accordingly a property owner in this state must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse.
 
This is one of the sticky wickets that I find so interesting amongst much of this: many landowners are not in it for conservation... actually, most aren't. They are maximizing the feed on their land for their cattle for profit and to keep their businesses going (nothing wrong with this, they have to make a living). No doubt, wild animals benefit from this, and I'm all for "cows not condos" to keep it that way, or better yet: "bison not bros" (it's a working slogan, open to suggestions).

But the fact that wildlife benefits from a ranch is ancillary to the purpose of why ranchers steward the land. It's for the cows, not the elk. Something that I think rubs so many people the wrong way is the inherent tension in this fact; many landowners are asking to be appreciated for inadvertently helping wildlife exist. The underlying premise of "you should be grateful and subsidize me because one of the inherent risks of how I make a living happens to benefit you too" is problematic for alot of people.

Which then goes to the case law citied in that article, full quote here:

Montana is one of the few areas in the nation where wild game abounds. It is regarded as one of the greatest of the state's natural resources, as well as the chief attraction for visitors. Wild game existed here long before the coming of man. One who acquires property in Montana does so with notice and knowledge of the presence of wild game and presumably is cognizant of its natural habits. Wild game does not possess the power to distinguish between fructus naturales and fructus industriales, and cannot like domestic animals be controlled through an owner. Accordingly a property owner in this state must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse.

I would disagree that most landowners don't care about wildlife, or that they don't have conservation as a cornerstone to their business plan. What benefits cows (noxious weed removal, improved water, etc) also benefits wildlife. No doubt there are people out there that view wildlife as a problem rather than a benefit, but I think those are becoming fewer and fewer.

The underlying premise of "you should be grateful and subsidize me because one of the inherent risks of how I make a living happens to benefit you too" is problematic for alot of people.

Similarly, this argument comes across to landowners as "I don't care that 1500 head of elk just took out 1/2 of your fenceline. Tough shit." That perception led to the passage of a lot of bad bills including HB 42 in 2003 and the shoulder season issue that started in 2015. Rather than respond to those valid concerns raised by landowners, the hunting community tends to come across as unwilling to listen, unwilling to collaborate and unwilling to understand the issue most are dealing with when it comes to problematic concentrations. Furthermore, in the area that this program is being beta tested, the issue of hunting isn't even a major part of the discussion when it comes down to elk and domestic livestock intermingling and creating issues with brucellosis and the potential depopulating of all of your herd, or just a small portion if you are lucky. If a producer is dealing with a wildlife conflict that isn't of their making (brucellosis, for example), then what is the duty of the state to help when it is a public trust resource that is causing conflict?

Which then goes to the case law citied in that article, full quote here:

Montana is one of the few areas in the nation where wild game abounds. It is regarded as one of the greatest of the state's natural resources, as well as the chief attraction for visitors. Wild game existed here long before the coming of man. One who acquires property in Montana does so with notice and knowledge of the presence of wild game and presumably is cognizant of its natural habits. Wild game does not possess the power to distinguish between fructus naturales and fructus industriales, and cannot like domestic animals be controlled through an owner. Accordingly a property owner in this state must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse.
Similarly, the case law around this issue in MT is frequently forgotten by the hunting side when it comes time to recognize that the courts did in fact say that landowners were entitled to have the agency work with them when problematic concentrations arose. Sackman & Rathbone are cornerstones for MT's wildlife management, and even then those decisions are often-times cherry-picked to pull out specific pieces that benefit the hunting argument. Both of those decisions to my recollection (it's been some time since I've read them) did not state that landowners had no ability to seek redress from their state agencies, but in fact the state had an obligation to work with the landowners to improve the situation - those decisions helped set the sideboards for what is allowable and what isn't.
 
What benefits cows (noxious weed removal, improved water, etc) also benefits wildlife.
We're saying the same thing there. It absolutely does, but again, that's an ancillary benefit. It's not the primary purpose of the business model. The business model is meant to make money off of cows. That the wildlife also benefits is a perk or a problem, depending on one's viewpoint. It is not the primary purpose. If we're lucky, it is a secondary purpose for the business. And I am hopeful that more landowners see wildlife as a benefit and build it in as a secondary purpose, and think we should do all we can to encourage that.

Rather than respond to those valid concerns raised by landowners, the hunting community tends to come across as unwilling to listen, unwilling to collaborate and unwilling to understand the issue most are dealing with when it comes to problematic concentrations.
Not gonna disagree here, although what the hunting community then tries to do is point to the myriad of existing programs available to landowners to utilize public hunters to help with that problem, which those landowners flat refuse to participate in, because "screw the government." See UPOM.

Similarly, the case law around this issue in MT is frequently forgotten by the hunting side when it comes time to recognize that the courts did in fact say that landowners were entitled to have the agency work with them when problematic concentrations arose.
Absolutely: hence all of the already-existing programs.
 
We're saying the same thing there. It absolutely does, but again, that's an ancillary benefit. It's not the primary purpose of the business model. The business model is meant to make money off of cows. That the wildlife also benefits is a perk or a problem, depending on one's viewpoint. It is not the primary purpose. If we're lucky, it is a secondary purpose for the business. And I am hopeful that more landowners see wildlife as a benefit and build it in as a secondary purpose, and think we should do all we can to encourage that.

Each ranch has a different business plan. Many of them now include wildlife as part of the plan, whether that's leasing to hunt clubs or outfitters, factoring in AUM usage, or allowing for public access through a program. Conservation programs are also parts of many operators plans (tax advantages from CE's, shorter term conservation leasing for cash payment, etc) and they use the access programs to help control flow of traffic and reduce issues of noxious weeds spreading. If you go back and revisit the Back from the Brink series & book, you see hunters & landowners working together to restore elk populations in the Root and the Big Hole. Today, that tradition carries on with Grayling in the Big Hole, Grizzlies, elk and wolves in the Blackfoot Valley, the LWCF Conservation Easement project up on the RMF, etc. So I really do think the days of landowners putting everything ahead of wildlife are getting shorter. Certain exception apply to every rule, of course. There are over 2.5 million acres of private land enrolled in perpetual conservation easements in MT, for example. Timber companies once they become a REIT, end up putting their land in CE's or look to sell to the public. In fact, one of the largest drops in enrollment in Block Mgt was timber companies that ended up being a part of the legacy project, and went into public ownership. Conservation as an economic tool is a big part of modern ag (NRCS, Conservation Districts, etc).

Not gonna disagree here, although what the hunting community then tries to do is point to the myriad of existing programs available to landowners to utilize public hunters to help with that problem, which those landowners flat refuse to participate in, because "screw the government." See UPOM.
Not every problem requires a dead critter to solve it. If the only answer that is given is "let us hunt," then the landowner isn't going to do something that doesn't solve the problem. The tool needs to fit the job, rather than simply demand a 1 size fits all answer.

Absolutely: hence all of the already-existing programs.
100%!!!

But if we look at the damage program, it hasn't produced the results that folks had hoped for a variety of reasons. Landowners generally have gone away from the for shoulder seasons because they control the access, and they decide when and where the hunting happens. Hazing, fencing, etc can work but they're short term deterrents. MT has some great landowner programs but I think some of them need to be updated to reflect the economic reality of ranching. We did that last session with the increase in the top end of Block Mgt payments. I think there are a lot of other opportunities out there that help us develop better tools, or evolve the ones we have currently, to fit better for landowners. In fact, I'd think that being proactive in the issue rather than reactive would likely create more access rather than less.
 
So I really do think the days of landowners putting everything ahead of wildlife are getting shorter.
And I'm glad to see it. I have high hopes. I worry about profiteering off of the public's wildlife, of course, as part of that business model, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

Not every problem requires a dead critter to solve it.
Give a man a 300 win mag, and everything becomes a target...

We did that last session with the increase in the top end of Block Mgt payments. I think there are a lot of other opportunities out there that help us develop better tools, or evolve the ones we have currently, to fit better for landowners. In fact, I'd think that being proactive in the issue rather than reactive would likely create more access rather than less.
Agree. That's why I advocate for the Master Hunter program or something of its ilk for hunters to learn more about what ranchers face and how they can respectfully work with, rather than against, landowners. The landowner panel alone is worth the price of admission.
 
Agree. That's why I advocate for the Master Hunter program or something of its ilk for hunters to learn more about what ranchers face and how they can respectfully work with, rather than against, landowners. The landowner panel alone is worth the price of admission.
Speak for yourself. :p
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Haha, that's where the "something of its ilk" part comes in to my comment @mtmiller! I also was in one of the first classes, which cost much less. There were scholarships available at the time as well. Where there's a will, there's a way.

It's actually something I would like to see the state get more involved in, as far as making it accessible. I don't want to see it watered down (in fact I think it could be even more rigorous, given a recent run in with a highly unethical hunter), though.
 
I was interested when it first became available. That changed when I saw the price, locations, required days off work and cost of lodging. Then I read the agenda, lots of rolling eyes on my end.

I am sure it is great for some folks. Didn't fit much for me even if it was tuition free.

Maybe the State could become more involved to create a better, more accessible experience. 🤷‍♂️
 
This is the kind of (mostly productive) conversation that gives me hope for HT. Glad I found this at the end of this week.

There is enormous value for us to keeping rangeland rangeland, and how grazing is vitally important to keeping wildlife populations viable. But regarding PERC's idea, here's a more neutral take:

How is cattle grazing vitally important to keeping wildlife populations viable?
Look at grazed state sections versus adjacent ungrazed USFWS waterfowl production areas in terms of wildlife populations.

It would be educational to require 1/10 of 1% of BLM lands to be in grazing exclosures to demonstrate the potential of ungrazed public lands.
 
Where's your solutions? Just whining about grazing fees is a do-nothing endeavor. Just raising grazing fees doesn't do anything to improve grazing practices.

I've worked on this stuff for over 35 years, successfully, including writing management plans, assessing stream, wetland, riparian, forest, range, etc. etc. health. When you come up with your plan, let me know.

The one best thing you can do, that you likley won't, is to ask Congress to fully fund land management agencies, R&D, etc.

Let the experts figure it out...your whining will do zip.
As far as "experts" you are not one. Of any kind. Your comments didnt add a cent worth of value to this thread or others ive posted in.

Since you likely have a sub 80 iq and feel the need to give out advice. Heres some for you : Figure out how to be an adult. As much as you "do" for bha, wildlife, and "govt" you push a lot more people out and away. Its a bit ironic - all you do is whine about the lack of conservationists in hunting. Wonder why? After a quick google search, you are on forum after forum - making advocates and BHA members out of all kinds of people, arent you buzz? Did you ever think people might not be interested in dealing with a bunch of arrogant fudds?

I have contacted leadership at BHA - hopefully they can handle some of their self righteous members. A little self reflection would do you well. I encourage others to do so if they care about BHAs mission. You arrogance, ignorance, and willingness to put people down is in vibrant contrast to it. Its detestable.

I hope more people provide commentary.
 
Ow you guys just wait till the hang over clears up they will respond back. In all seriousness wtf where you all doing up at 3am?
 
“Contacted leadership at BHA” 🤣😂
His clown behavior online is in direct opposition to the message.

Its okay though. I guess i should understand - a little frail old fud def cant talk like he does in person. everyone needs an outlet i suppose.
 
How is cattle grazing vitally important to keeping wildlife populations viable?
Look at grazed state sections versus adjacent ungrazed USFWS waterfowl production areas in terms of wildlife populations.

It would be educational to require 1/10 of 1% of BLM lands to be in grazing exclosures to demonstrate the potential of ungrazed public lands.
I'm not sure how frequently they do it but I've seen this done on BLM and Forest Service land. The grass is generally much taller in the enclosure areas but I'm not an expert in diversity and all that stuff so I am not sure of much else.

I haven't grazed a small 160 acre piece of property that I own here in Texas in 15 years and I wouldn't say that it has turned into an amazing wildlife habitat as a result. I've been thinking about trying to do some kind of cattle lease where someone brings in a big group of cows and grazes it hard over the winter then takes them off. I have some CRP that I would have to fence off to do that but again those GPS collars might be just what I would need to make something like that work. That property does have perimeter fencing so that part is good. I could run 3 or 4 cows on the place in some kind of quadrant set up keeping them off the CRP with the collars and rotating them around to keep them from only eating the good stuff. There aren't any of the collars actually working on anything but a trial basis right now though.
 

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