Do ranchers in Wyoming, Montana, & other western states own all the land their cattle graze on?

After returning from the Grand Tetons & Yellowstone, and hearing all the stories about ranchers (and the hunters they employ) killing wolves and coyotes (and the gov't killing Buffalo and elk) for being on the the property the cattle were on, I was extremely angry. Reasons aside, I have been informed that many of the ranchers around the national parks areas (Yellowstone & Grand tetons, also assuming Rocky Mountain area) do NOT own or are in any way making payments for the property that the cattle are grazing on. I was informed the property is owned by either the department of the interior (federal) or department of natural resources (state) government. Is this true? Note, this is not a question about whether or not the animals should be killed - that will be a separate issue. The only question is to exactly who owns the land.


Ranchers ARE compensated for each animal killed by a predator

If you are lease a car and someone breaks into it, are you allowed to kill them?

There are PROVEN vaccinations for the disease in cattle

The disease was initially transmitted FROM cattlle TO bison

There have been no PROVEN cases of cattle infection from bison in US- only elk

Risk of HUMAN infection is EXTREMELY rare in US

National parks are supposed to protect NATIVE WILDLIFE, not kill it

Coyotes are shot on sight by ranchers, or hunters they employ, even if not killing an animal.

NPS acknowledges too many bison were killed last year

Bison are killed many times for ONLY having the antibodies, NOT having the disease

Safari parks in US have bison you can feed directly by hand

Was in Yellowstone 11 days and nights - wolves seen =0? Wow they must be overpopulated. 2.2 million acres = .000727 wolves/acre

Sources -,, Jackson hole chamber of commerce, jacksonholeradio.

Update 2:

Per the CDC, it is rare to pass this disease on from anything other than direct contact. You can move to another state that does not have NATIVE wildlife (there before YOU or your ancestors were) and still be a rancher. Any animal killed by NATIVE wildlife is just a cost of doing business...nothing more. You have to accept the fact a certain number will die from disease or be killed. If you don't like it, maintain tighter control of your herd, instead of using government (tax payer supported) land. Buffalo and other NATIVE wildlife got the disease from cattle. Anyone who had chickenpox 20 years ago will test positive for it now - it does not mean they have it, will get it again, or will spread it - same thing applies. According to the CDC, the vaccine is HIGHLY effective. Local govt's are only protecting self interests (cattle industry) or they would end the killing. Have a public slaughter in Yellowstone and see how fast the policy changes, instead of doing it in private.

Update 3:

Per, there are approx 400 wolves in greater yellowstone area - equal to .000182 wolves per acre. Again an insignificant number. We spent 11 days, drove 1500+ miles, easilly spoke with over 200 people on the side of the road, at rest stops..NONE had seen a wolf. We had been to all the spots you are "supposed" to see one, early, late, mid day. Some people sat for 2 days watching a bison that just died, waiting for the wolves that never came. I will send you a check, when you figure out how to build a SECURE place to store animals for the night. Floor to ceiling walls, on a concrete pad, made of corregated steel or aluminum, with a door that closes all the way. Let them out in AM, bring them ALL in PM, and lock the door. And I guarantee you will have NO losses at night. They don't want to spend that kind of money, so they let them wander all night, with no protection. Or keep them in some crude area. Good Plan - don't protect them and wonder why they are killed.

Update 4:

One more note - wildlife management is just that, management. It does not mean killing. Killing should be an ultimate last resort. On the one hand, ranchers and hunters argue that we should NOT get involved with supplemental feedings of animals, because that is human interventtion. So when wolves, or bison, or bear, or moose are starving due to whatever reason, they won't advocate feeding. However, as soon an animal goes beyond some boundary (which an animal would never know), it should be killed. Then animals a rancher owns, should be allowed to go whereever they want, but a native animal should only be allowed to go within a national park. Talk about the supreme example of having your cake and eating it too. Maybe if the congressional leaders from those states bordering GTNP and YNP weren't getting contributions and lobbying from the ranchers (special interest groups), we might have some changes to forest service policy.

3 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    I currently live in Idaho, about 75 miles from Yellowstone.

    A lot of the ranchers DO own the land they use around Yellowstone. Some of them have owned the ranch land in their family for well over 100 years.

    Many of the ranchers also LEASE land around their ranches. The land can be BLM land (Bureau of Land Managment), or land belonging to a Native American Tribe (the lease money then goes to the tribe), or some other form of public land lease.

    When the land comes up for lease, you and anyone else is free to make a bid on it, for it's use. Use is often restricted to only grazing of cattle, sheep, or horses.

    The ranchers are NOT using the land for free. They have a lease...they pay money to the Government.

    If you have a lease on an apartment, and your home is invaded by a bum with tuberculosis (a HIGHLY contageous disease) and a serrial killer, would you not feel it was within your lease rights to call the police and get rid of the bum with tuberculosis, and the serrial killer? Or would you be fine with continueing to pay your lease, and share your space with such people? Do you expect a rancher to pay on his lease, and have his stock killed by wolves, or infected with Brucellosis from infected elk and bison?

    Any idea how many wolves have been killed in Idaho, since they started to allow ranchers to kill them? Two. The two were killed by the ranchers themselves. There are no hired killers running about tracking down every wolf and killing it. Anyone who states otherwise is simplying lying.

    Do you know how many wolves were introduced in 1995, when this all began? 66 wolves. Do you know what estimates of the wolf population are in 2007? About 1600 wolves. So in 12 years wolves increased their population by 1534 animals. I'd say that wolves are having ZERO problem re-establishing themselves.

    Many of the Elk and Bison around Yellowstone are infected with Brucellosis. Brucellosis makes cattle abort their calves. The cattle often times will NEVER be able to produce a viable, live calf again. Same thing happens in the elk, and bison. Brucellossis is HIGHLY contageous.

    Canines (dogs, foxes, coyotes, and WOLVES) can also contract brucellosis from eating infected placenta, dead adult animals, or aborted calves. It makes female canines abort their puppies, and often incapable of ever having a live litter again. It makes the testicals of the male canines swell painfully, and horribly.

    Brucellosis is also highly contageous to humans.

    Are you stating you actually have a problem with ranchers, and Park Rangers killing elk and bison who might have brucellosis? You do realize that the brucellosis has the potential to wipe out the wolves that are doing so wonderfully, right?

    You do realize that brucellosis can EASILY get into the cattle, sheep, and goats that graze near Yellowstone, and be trasmitted to humans, right?

    Who owns the land the ranchers are leasing? Native American Tribes, the Federal Government, and land owned by individual state Governments. Ranchers are paying the lease money to one of those three.

    Make sure you learn the ENTIRE story...BOTH sides, before you state the killing of bison, elk, or wolves is entirely bad and horrible.


    Permaculture homesteading/farming over 20 years

    Ranchers are not compinsated fairly...not even close. One of the 125 year old ranches up here in Idaho suffered wolf attacks. The rancher raises registered paint horses. The rancher applied to be compinsated for the 12 horses the wolves killed. His loss was $36,000 for the 12 horses. $3000 a horse is not even remotely unreasonable. He was sent a check for $925....for all 12 horses. That's not even $100 a horse.

    A rancher all but needs video tape of the wolf attack, and kill to be compinsated.

    You must not know where to look for the wolves. Everyone I've spoken to, who's been to Yellowstone in the past two years has seen them, and been thrilled by them. By the way, did you know more of the wolves have been hit and killed by CARS than ranchers?

    Those bad ol'ranchers trying to make a living...oh wait...the people driving cars are killing more wolves. What should happen to all those people driving cars? Maybe we'd better ban vehicles on the road.

    Yes, since 1996, there has been a vaccine for brucellosis. It is NOT 100% effective.

    My point is that cattle, elk, bison, moose, ect that might have brucellosis should ALL be killed. This disease has too much chance to kill the native wildlife.

    Did you also ever stop to think for just a moment that there's a REASON the bison and elk that stray onto cattle ranches are being killed?

    I realize good and well it's all being laid at the feet of the cattle ranchers...the ranchers are the bad guys. Somehow there's never a news story to state that the Yellowstone Park Rangers also think it's a good idea! Know why? The herds are too big to be contained in Yellowstone. The Rangers would rather kill the elk and bison that wander out of the National Park, and possibly become infected with brucellosis, than allow them BACK INTO the Park, to possibly infect the healthy bison and elk.

    You only get to hear one side of the story from the news media. Attend some of the actual meetings in person, and hear all sides of the story. You will be quiet suprised at what you hear.

    By the way, I raise meat goats, since 1999. I've never once shot a single wild predator. Not a fox, coyote, wolf, bear, or cougar. We use Great Pyrenees to guard our herds. Works great...protects the wildlife, and protects my herds. Don't assume that every farmer/rancher is a cold blooded killer.

    Want to know what most of us farmers and ranchers kill? Dogs. Pet dogs that break in and slaughter our stock. Feral dogs that are spreading disease like wildfire.

    Any idea what happens when unvaccinated dogs start to spread distemper to the wild canines? It's ugly, and it's a horrible way to see members of the canine family suffering.

    I know a lot of farmers/ranchers around here. Almost all of us have shot pet dogs people allow to wander and harm stock. None of us kill coyotes. Any idea what happens to the rodent population when coyotes are killed?!

    You already made up your mind who the "bad guys" were, before you posted your question. You are very closed minded, and not willing to even concider that there might just be two sides to the story.

    By the way, did you know the wolf re-introduction has been VERY harmful to the grizzly bears? When grizzly bears come out of hybernation now, there are no winter kills (animals that died due to cold/snow, ect) left for them to eat. The wolves eat them all during the winter.

    So not the grizzly bears come out of hybernation, there's nothing to eat, and the elk have not yet started to drop their calves. So the grizzly bears leave Yellowstone, and seek out human garbage, pet food, houses to break into, ect. A lot of those grizzly bears have to be killed. Once the elk start to drop calves the grizzly go back to hunting them for the short period they are able to catch them.

    Just something to think about. The grizzly would be safer and more would survive without the wolves. There is no absolute black and white, right and wrong.

    Uh-oh...another edit from me, bad when you have someone from Idaho answering your question, huh? Wolves killed 19 sheep at a ranch in Dubois, in 2 or 3 attacks. This is a Government owned ranch, so of course the wolf kills were imediately confirmed. So the Government can pay the Government...yee-haw, our tax dollars at work.

    By the way, did you know that wolves have already regained their full endangered species protection? That means nobody is killing them.

    Would you mind pulling out your checkbook and paying for those 19 sheep? I'd sure appreciate it, if the wolf lovers would keep our tax dollars down, by paying for the wolf kills. Sheep sell for about $150 each (that's a low price too). So only $2850....I'm sure you don't mind paying that. I'll let you know when any more kills happen in Idaho. Send your check to U.S Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, ID, C/O Sandy Miller Hays, the spokeswoman for Agricultural Research Services.

    Thank you for putting your money where your mouth is, and actually making a difference. After all, you are going to send the check for $2850, RIGHT?

    Source(s): %
  • 1 decade ago

    If a buffalo is found to be producing antibodies that are present when infected by a particular disease than that animal is infected. Like HIV can be detected in humans by the particular antibodies our bodies produce to fight the disease. Unfortunately if these antibodies can not get rid of the foreign invader and there is no cure the only thing left is for the virus to multiply and spread to the rest of the herd.

    If a virus like that spreads into the American Bison population it would destroy them. Due to over hunting in the 19th century a population bottleneck has occurred, or they are all inbreed cousin lovers. Which means if one gets sick from something odds are the rest will be susceptible to that same something. So you throw a nasty virus in there and it would wipe out all of these animals. That is why they are destroyed, to protect the population.

    There really is more management going into this than some people are lead to believe. You should also understand a little more about what you're talking about before you start sh*tting in the hand that feeds you.

    Source(s): My brain
  • 1 decade ago

    grazing land is usually owned by the government, but they lease the land out to ranchers, and yes the ranchers do pay their leases. the government gets very testy when they dont.

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