How Your Love Of Burgers May Be Helping To Drive Wildlife Extinct

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Many animal lovers have made peace with their decision to eat meat.

But the Center for Biological Diversity has a new campaign that hopes to convince them that a hamburger habit does wildlife a disservice.

"We need to see a drastic reduction in meat consumption to protect land, water and wildlife,"Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director for the Center for Biological Diversity, tells The Salt.

The conservation group says that some populations of grizzly bears and wolves have already been driven extinct by the livestock industry, and an additional 175 threatened or endangered species, like the prairie dog, could be next. Most of this drama is playing out on federal lands, where the needs of wildlife conflict with the needs of grazing cattle, she says.

The federal government has for decades promoted and subsidized cattle grazing on 270 million acres of public lands in 11 Western states. According to Feldstein, one of the hot spots of livestock-wildlife conflict is predator species like wolves and bears preying on cattle.

The California grizzly subspecies, for example, was driven extinct in the 1920s by hunters assisting farmers and ranchers, according to historical documents at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ranchers also all but wiped out the Mexican gray wolf, the most endangered wolf species in the world, in the U.S. (A few survived in Mexico and in zoos, and scientists have been trying to bring them back through breeding, the group Defenders of Wildlife says.)

"The anti-wolf policies we've seen are heavily driven by ranching interests, and while some populations of wolves are being rebuilt, they're still highly endangered," says Feldstein.

Written By: Eliza Barclay
continue to source article at npr.org

21 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by alaskansee:

      My elk burgers do what now?

      Destroy the rainforest. So don’t eat ‘em.

      You can send ‘em to me instead, but make sure they are fresh. Can you get caribou burgers?

      Where do you get those elk burgers from anyhow?

      • In reply to #3 by inquisador:

        In reply to #1 by alaskansee:

        My elk burgers do what now?

        Destroy the rainforest. So don’t eat ‘em.

        No they don’t, there is no rainforest in Elk habitat, just a big game of kerplunk. (Elk – is Scandinavian for Moose, I’m actually just talking about Red Deer using the local misnomer) Moose burgers are too much, I prefer Bison.

        You can send ‘em to me instead, but make sure they are fresh. Can you get caribou burgers?

        They’re always fresh if you make them yourself. Wild Caribou are impossible to find in my neighbourhood.

        Where do you get those elk burgers from anyhow?

        Out the backyard. Having said that I live with a vegetarian and actually eat very little meat. We’ve been together almost 30 years – she cooked me steak for the first time this week. Not bad but wild is better.

  1. So as an altruistic endeavor we should avoid meat in the hopes of stabilizing and/or increasing certain members of wildlife’s population and sustainability? Color me skeptical but I don’t think my bison (my preferred meat) burger consumption and alaskansee’s elk burger consumption is the root of the problem here. But if American’s love of burgers went away – poof! – just like that, I have a sneaky suspicion that there would be many other potential maladies to take its place as a foe of population and sustainability. Say, like our encroachment on natural lands, climate change (albeit circuitously), [add any number of other environmental drivers), etc.

    • In reply to #2 by Steven007:

      So as an altruistic endeavor we should avoid meat in the hopes of stabilizing and/or increasing certain members of wildlife’s population and sustainability? Color me skeptical but I don’t think my bison (my preferred meat) burger consumption and alaskansee’s elk burger consumption is the root of the…

      Read the article more carefully. The issue is the BEEF industry, not wild meat.

  2. If we quit eating burgers now to save the environment, what will we do after our population grows a bit more and we’re right back in the same situation? No, please don’t bring up that movie again..

    • In reply to #5 by A3Kr0n:

      If we quit eating burgers now to save the environment, what will we do after our population grows a bit more and we’re right back in the same situation? No, please don’t bring up that movie again..

      Hmm. A lot of grumpy meat-eaters here who don’t want to even consider the issue. A bit like religion, eh?

      • In reply to #10 by justinesaracen:

        Hmm. A lot of grumpy meat-eaters here who don’t want to even consider the issue.

        I’ve considered the issue. My conclusion is thus:

        I like burgers. The impact of me reducing my burger consumption from 1 – 2 a month to 1 every other month will have a net effect on the industry that is less than the error margin of whatever measuring technique is used. If many, many others follow the call and reduce their burger consumption then my burger consumption of 1 – 2 month would be clearly sustainable by any reasonable metric.

        Conclusion: I shall continue eating my burgers. However, as a result of this thread, I shall try to substitute elk and bison burgers so as to reduce the demand on the cattle industry and do my bit to protect the wolves. Unfortunately, as these are creatures not native to the UK, I’m going to have to fly the elk steaks and bison mince in. It feels nice to be helping the environment. You’re welcome.

  3. Yet another reason to stop living off the top of the food chain. Not to mention the cruelty of the industry altogether, in raising, confining, and slaughtering. I love the taste of meat, but eat it very very rarely, and a side benefit is that the rarity makes it doubly delicious. It’s so easy to do good here. Just cut back!

  4. I’m all for preserving species and their habitats. I feel that all the critters deserve a place even though I probably won’t have the joy of observing them. But let’s take a look at wolves; they were marketed as something we couldn’t do without in the wild. Romantic ideas about wolf behavior and what great animals they are. Now the population is getting out of hand so “we” need a wolf hunt. This has left me skeptical on the issue of reintroducing any species.

  5. Guilty. I only read the lede. It’s a topic of superficial interest for me. I am reflexively skeptical when an article is couched in a slippery way to induce discussion:

    Burgers, yum! Extinction, bad! Discuss. Meh.

    In reply to #8 by justinesaracen:

    In reply to #2 by Steven007:

    So as an altruistic endeavor we should avoid meat in the hopes of stabilizing and/or increasing certain members of wildlife’s population and sustainability? Color me skeptical but I don’t think my bison (my preferred meat) burger consumption and alaskansee’s elk burger…

  6. So, apparently nature changes rules at the 49th. This year, we’ve seen grizzly populations, mountain lions, coyotes and wolves increase. And as for prairie dogs, or gophers as we call them, those little pesky rodents are everywhere.

  7. According to this XKCD comic panel, which gets at least one of its major sources from this book, humanity and our livestock are, to a first approximation, all the mammals on this planet. When there’s more cattle biomass than human biomass, and both take a combined two-thirds of all mammalian biomass, is it any wonder several mammalian species are going extinct? We’re hogging all the real estate.

    The only real solution is to stop or reverse population growth. It would help if we used more efficient sources of energy and nutrition, such as those that supported vegetarian diets, ideally while also cutting back long-distance shipping as much as is practical and encouraging local produce. But we wouldn’t even need to do that in the first place if we didn’t keep outdoing our own common sense solutions through sheer numbers.

    If it wasn’t for the fact it’d necessarily involve large scale death and suffering, I’d say our population crash can’t come fast enough.

  8. Lowering demand for meat by not wasting as much food will help for a while. Planting veg to replace the cattle still needs land. We are going to lose a lot of wild animals and a lot of wild land. Perhaps all of it. We will reach a peak and masses of people will start to die. Then we will even out and the wild will reclaim what it can. Then, we will abuse the system again. It’s natural. Perhaps a scientific discovery will delay it a bit.

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