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Cat Urbigkit

Cat Urbigkit: Food Waste Claims Don’t Add Up

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

The average American household allegedly wastes nearly a third of the food it buys. Columnist Cat Urbigkit says that claim doesn’t pass the common-sense test, and took a look at the research that led to the claim, findingthere was creative accounting and a lack of credible information involved.

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Cat Urbigkit: Why Working Ranches Should Be Important To Tourists Who Care About Yellowstone Wolves

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “Visitors to our national parks care about the wild animals that inhabit the region, but the importance of the interconnected private and public lands outside the park’s borders remains largely unknown.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Private Deals to Retire Public Grazing Permits

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Cat Urbigkit writes: “Although the anti-grazing group Western Watersheds Project said the Sagebrush Habitat Conservation Fund wouldn’t be used as a war chest for the anti-grazing group, within five years the Fund was funneling money to WWP, providing more than $2.2 million in six years.

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Cat Urbigkit: Working Lands Are Key to Migrations

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “My travels around the ranch bisect a major wildlife migration corridor. The corridor has been busy the last few weeks, with recent snowstorms bringing mule deer out of the mountains and streaming through this mixture of private, state and federal lands.”

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Cat Urbigkit: From Spring’s Awe, to Summer’s Awful

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “’ve spent the last month alternating shifts with other family members as we camped on the range with a sheep flock for lambing. The sagebrush rangeland was been blessed by frequent rain and snow this spring, and conditions were ideal for enjoying the splendors of this season of renewal.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Gun Violence And Silencing the Language of Hate

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “Just as predictably as Republicans pointed to mental health issues and the presence of evil in society as the cause for gun violence, Democrats pointed to gun ownership in America as the root cause. Both sides are busy issuing statements, attempting to score political points while blaming the other party.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Game & Fish Compensation Program Shortchanges Livestock Producers

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “Sympathy doesn’t pay the bills, and it’s past time for Game and Fish to take action to re-evaluate its compensation formulas, and for state and federal lawmakers to try to figure out how to pay for these large predator species that the nation wants but are financially impacting ranchers.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Wolves Create Landscape of Fear for Prey, Landscape of Stress for Farmers

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “According to a new scientific study, ‘The landscape of stress for sheep owners when coexisting with wolves and other large carnivores suggest that sheep owners’ behavior is somewhat similar to behavior described for prey in the ecology of fear.'”

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Cat Urbigkit: Yellowstone Stirs Controversy Over State Management of Predators, Part 2

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “Yellowstone park officials know that wolf and grizzly bear populations have saturated available range inside the park and that these large predator populations will continue range expansion outside the park’s borders. YNP created this mess, but looks to the states to fix it.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Court Affirms Plan For New 3,500-Well Gas Field in Sublette County

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “What the case demonstrates is that when environmental groups don’t have a federally protected species to hang their litigation hats on, their arguments aren’t nearly as effective at stalling or halting projects when a case makes it to the federal court.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Ending Federal Wolf Oversight, or Permanent Protection?

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “Regardless of the naysayers seeking permanent wolf protections, Wyoming should celebrate its success on the 5-year anniversary of the removal of its gray wolves from the list of species federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. We’ve earned it.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Biden Steps Away From Protectionists’ 30 x 30 Plan

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “Perhaps Biden’s Democratic colleagues in Congress will eventually leave the protectionist camp and join the social conservationists in the realization that conserving biodiversity should be paired with sustaining human livelihoods and communities.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Energy Industry Exits Russia, While ExxonMobil Relaunches Wyoming Project

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes “ExxonMobil estimates that the expansion project will involve an average of 162 construction jobs over 29 months, with a peak workforce of 388, and creation of 11 new permanent positions added to its existing 200-person workforce in the area.”

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Cat Urbigkit: Wyoming Wildlife Advocates Deceives to Support Wolf Relisting

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: The Wyoming Wildlife Advocates’ assertion that here in Sublette County we are “killing wolves ahead of any conflicts” is pure fallacy, as is the assertion that lethal control wouldn’t be needed “if livestock producers were using preventative, non-lethal methods to avoid losses.”

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Cat Urbigkit: ESA Decisions Ping-Pong Between Republican & Democratic Administrations – But Not In The Way You May Expect

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Columnist Cat Urbigkit writes: “Last week’s federal court decision placing gray wolves in most of the United States back under federal protection is often reported as a rollback of the Trump administration’s decision to delist wolves, yet few reports note that the Biden administration had supported and defended the decision made during Trump’s time in office.”

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Cat Urbigkit: State Will Hear From Public on Land Deal

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing

Last week the Wyoming Legislature adopted revisions to two draft bills that allow state officials to move forward in pursuing a huge land purchase involving 1 million acres of surface and 4 million acres of mineral rights in the checkerboard of southern Wyoming.

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Cat Urbigkit: State Leaders Don’t Want to Hear From Public on Land Deal

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

Our state leaders keep telling us that what a unique opportunity this deal is, and that the deal could be a “strategic investment” to add income to state coffers, and “unprecedented multiple-use access for the public.” But when it comes to specifics, they aren’t sharing much.

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Cat Urbigkit: House Passes First Reading of Land Deal Bill

in Cat Urbigkit/Column
wild horses

On Tuesday afternoon, it took 19 minutes for Representative Steve Harshman (R-Natrona County) to introduce and describe to fellow House members revamped House Bill 249 allowing the State Loan and Investment Board to investigate and pursue the purchase of 1 million acres of surface, and 4 million acres of mineral rights in southern Wyoming.

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Cat Urbigkit: House Approps Reworks State Land Deal Bill

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

On Monday the House Appropriations Committee worked until after 9 p.m. to make substantial revisions to House Bill 249 that enables Governor Mark Gordon and other members of the State Loan and Investment Board to examine and negotiate a deal for 1 million acres of surface and 4 million acres of mineral rights in southwestern Wyoming.

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Cat Urbigkit: State Trust Lands Aren’t “Public” Land

in Cat Urbigkit/Column
wild horses

Most people I’ve talked to about this proposed land deal usually respond with “What the …” and “I thought the State was broke,” but some have expressed the view that it would be good to have more public land, more public access, more areas set aside for wildlife – as if state and federal lands are managed in the same way. They aren’t.

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Cat Urbigkit: Grizzly Bears, Cattle, and the Tangled Web of Activism

in Cat Urbigkit/Column
Grizzly Bear

In more of the same-old-predictable strategy, there have been two notices of intent to sue over conflicts between grizzly bears and cattle in the Upper Green River region of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Here’s a quick overview of that issue, then we’re taking a deep dive into who is threatening to sue.

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Resolve to Childish Rules

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

With the ringing-in of a new year, it’s that time when we feel the need to make resolutions, most of which are quickly broken. I know, I know; this time it’s going to be different. Really? I’ve of the mind that rather than making new resolutions, we adults need to revisit and relearn some of the vital lessons of childhood.

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Tracking Wild

in Cat Urbigkit/News/Column/wildlife/Agriculture
Good deer
Researchers use radio collars to track mule deer migration through the Wind River Mountains. (Photo: Cat Urbigkit)

From collars or eartag transmitters placed on big game animals and large carnivores like wolves and bears, to backpack harnesses or neck bands installed on a variety of bird species, and the surgical insertion of devices into fish, the amount of wildlife tracking conducted every year in Wyoming is astounding.

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On Bone Broth, and Coexistence

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Agriculture
Guardian dogs

The morning after Thanksgiving our house was once again filled with the smell of cooking turkey. But this time it was because we were boiling the carcass remains from the previous day’s feast. The bones are placed in the garbage once the broth is complete, but we pour the bone broth with chunks of meat in canning jars for reheating and pouring over the kibble of our working livestock guardian dogs on cold winter mornings. Bones from a beef roast, leg of lamb, or leftover bird carcass all provide for delicious bone broth that can be used to make soup, but we like providing a nutrition boost for hard-working dogs and females raising pups.

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This Is Rural America

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Agriculture

A recent Twitter rant by a University of California Berkeley PhD student philosopher that claimed rural Americans “are bad people who have made bad life decisions” and should live “uncomfortable” lives and should have to pay more for rejecting efficient city life brought predictable condemnation. The man later deleted the tweet with a comment that “my tone is way crasser and meaner than I like to think I am” but he never actually backed down from his rural condemnation. But this bruhaha got me thinking about rural life in America, and what that actually means.

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My Dog Is Not A Fur Baby

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Agriculture
Livestock guardian dogs

Americans are animal lovers, so much that 95 percent of pet owners view their pets as family members. According to a survey from the American Pet Products Association, less than 15 percent of dogs in America sleep outside at night, and more than 70 percent of dogs are allowed to sleep in a person’s bed, according to another survey. In American society, dogs have become “fur babies” and humans now identify as “pet parents” – which is either a wonderful thing, or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. Animals are no longer simply our companions; they’ve become children in “interspecies families.”

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The Fallacy of Gold-Standard Predator Research

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/wildlife/Agriculture

As a frequent reader of new research on livestock production and carnivore conflicts, I am often reminded of the divide between researchers and practitioners. Papers will explain that research was conducted on sheep, without necessary information about those sheep, which practitioners (livestock producers) know will influence outcomes. For instance, we need to know not just the number of sheep involved, but breed, sex, age, breeding status, etc. because these cohorts may react differently in a given scenario.

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Outdoor Recreation & Tourism: A Look at the Numbers

in Cat Urbigkit/Recreation/Column/Tourism
Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Tourism:

A new report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis(BEA) shows that outdoor recreation contributes 4.4. percent of Wyoming’s gross domestic product. That’s something to celebrate, with Wyoming’s percentage among the highest in the nation, behind only Hawaii, Montana, and Maine.

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Grizzly Recovery Reflected in Upper Green Conflict

in Cat Urbigkit/News/Column/wildlife/Agriculture
Upper Green River Wyoming

The Bridger-Teton National Forest’s announcement of its decision to reauthorize cattle grazing in the Upper Green River region 30 miles north of Pinedale was met with the predictable hysteria of anti-grazing activists who claim the plan “institutionalizes overgrazing” and “negligent livestock management” on national forest lands. These activists are pushing to rid public lands of livestock and cite conflicts between grizzly bears and cattle in the Upper Green to justify their position. It’s no matter that the truth undermines their outrageous claims.

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Get real: Dumping Disneyland for nature

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife
Range Writing elk in traffic
National Park visitors oblivious to the danger posed by a bull elk among them. (Photo credit: Cat Urbigkit)

With more than 80 percent of the American public residing in urban areas, I understand the importance of connecting people to nature. But rather than have the American public remain ignorant about the natural world and its wild animals, we need to work to educate the public of the reality of human-wildlife conflicts so that we can seek to minimize these conflicts.

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Dear Hunters

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing
Wyoming mule deer
A mule deer buck stays in the shadows on Wyoming’s sagebrush steppe. (Photo credit: Cat Urbigkit)

I am happy that you’re out having adventures, and hopefully getting some tasty meat for the freezer. I know that you look forward to hunting season all year long, and it’s a big part of why you are in this great state, whether as a resident or a visitor. And I appreciate that so far this year, all but one of you have honored our ranch gates by leaving them as you find them.

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