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4 Budget Cuts that Save U.S. Taxpayers $280 Million AND Help the Environment, Animals and Wildlife Watchers

President Obama wants to freeze the tiny part of the federal budget that applies to programs in the environment, parks, education and transportation. I’ve seen this movie before and know this political gimmick doesn’t have a happy ending for wildlife. But here are four easy way to cut the federal budget by $280 million a year and help the environment, wildlife and animal watchers.

Discount Grazing on Public Lands: $121 million
Wild Horse-Roundups and Permanent Holding:  $85 million a year
Killing Coyotes, Starlings and other “Bad” Animals: $71 million a year
Rounding up Yellowstone Bison $3 million

1) Stop Cattlemen Welfare $121 million Cattlemen get to graze on federal land for about one-tenth the cost they would have to pay the private sector. This is a program both the left and right hate. The CATO Institute calls it “land-use socialism.”
Cowboy on the Snow

Ranchers now pay about $1.35 per animal unit per month (AUM), compared to $13.50 in the real world. Just to break even the federal government should be charging between $7.64 and $12.26, a GAO report found. We could stop losing $121 million by charging market rates.
I’m a meat eater and amid the myriad choices of grass-fed and dry-aged, I’ve never gotten a special deal on federal land beef. If the massive federal lands were put on the free market, it would probably drive down costs for all ranchers–and consumers.
(Photo courtesy of Sharat Ganapati)

2) Stop rounding up wild horses : $85 million a year

We really have more wild horses in captivity that we know what to do with–about 33,000. The Bureau of Land Management started amassing mustangs under Bush, then proposed selling them to slaughter in 2005. The public was repulsed.
Each horse costs about $333 to round up (based on the $900,000 the BLM spent to catch 2,700 horses). Then it costs about $500 a year each to keep them.
But, we’re still rounding up horses–another 12,000 this year. That will put nearly two-thirds of the wild horse population in federal custody at a cost of about $85 by 2012.

3) Stop Killing Coyotes and Starlings: $71 million a year
The federal government spent a stunning $71 million in FY2010 on the widely discredited science of killing 2.4 million predators and “nuisance” animals. The predators taken are quickly replaced by other animals moving into the territory. Wyoming spent $2.2 million federal tax dollars in 2007 to kill 11,000 coyotes, 300 foxes, 1,000 pigeons, 600 ravens and 55 wolves (among other animals they decided were bad).
Whether you think these animals should survive or not, you have to question whether federal tax dollars should be spent removing them.

The federal government also paid to dispatch (partial list)
1,177,00 starlings
335,000 cowbirds
90,000 coyotes
86,000 pigeons
16,000 cormorants
13,000 mourning doves
13,000 raccoons
6,000 squirrels
500 stray dogs
1,100 prairie dogs
1,110 feral cats
6,000 rabbits
876 robins (including 776 shot on purpose in Mississippi)
400 otters

344 wolves (including four critically endangered Mexican gray wolves that you are also paying the Fish and Wildlife Service to bring back)
336 cougars
84 mockingbirds
52 pelicans (including one brown pelican, then classified as endangered, intentionally shot in Florida)
43 Sandhill cranes
1 flamingo

4) Stop Rounding up Yellowstone Bison $3 million

Again, lay this one on the cattlemen. The various government agencies (parks, forest service, USDA) say they needs to limit bison because they might give a disease to 200 neighboring cattle.
“The U.S. government spends about $3 million a year to manage wild buffalo like livestock inside Yellowstone Park through its capture, quarantine, and vaccination program, all intended to prevent buffalo’s natural migration to adjacent National Forest lands and on private lands where people want and respect them as wildlife,” says Buffalo Field Campaign habitat coordinator Darrell Geist. He also points out that doesn’t even count crop and livestock subsidies, giveaways to mining companies and gifts to
oil and gas interests. 

They could just stop giving out the money-losing grazing rights to the land in the valley. Remember, it’s a money losing proposition anyway. But on top of that, we’re paying to round them up and ship them off. Even though seeing bison is one of the reasons Americans like going to Yellowstone. BFC’s. Habitat Coordinator Darrell Geist says they could probably buy out the cattle for about $1 million.

Where to Go to See Wolves
Places You Can See Bison

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1 comment to 4 Budget Cuts that Save U.S. Taxpayers $280 Million AND Help the Environment, Animals and Wildlife Watchers

  • Fairplay

    Thank You for this post. I intend to contact my legislators and the President. This money,used for the killing and the harassment of wildlife, and to subsidize the cost of range land use, clearly demonstrates the eaze with which it is given away to these backward states.