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subspecies, for example, was driven extinct in the 1920s by hunters assisting farmers and ranchers, according to historical documents at the University of California, Berkeley.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