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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 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: 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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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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The World’s Gone Crazy Cotillion

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife
Range Pack livestock guardian dogs
Some legislative proposals ignore the reality of working dogs like these livestock guardian dogs on the range in western Wyoming. (Photo credit: Cat Urbigkit)

Every now and then, my brain hits playback on the Waylon Jennings’ song “The World’s Gone Crazy (Cotillion)” written by Jennings and Shel Silverstein. Last week the song was stuck in my head, as the lyrics are apropos to much current news.

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The Nature of Conflict: Managing Wildlife Damage

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife

I spent last week in our nation’s capital, one of 20 citizens from around the country gathered to serve on the national advisory committee for USDA Wildlife Services. The committee’s job is to provide recommendations to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue, on policies and program issues necessary to manage damage caused by depredating wildlife to safeguard our nation’s resources and safeguard public health and safety. Since Wildlife Services is tasked with resolving wildlife conflicts, much of what we discussed was about conflict.

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Not To Be Critical, But Let’s Try Critical Thinking: From fast fashion to landlocked public lands, the devil is in the details.

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing
The devil is in the details

I’m a news hound, and when I come across a topic that interests me, I try to read about that topic from a variety of news sources in attempt to see a range of perspectives. I read news from major media in the United States, Europe, Russia, and Turkey on a regular basis. Every few days I hear or read statements that give me pause. I am routinely perplexed at reporters allowing these statements to go unchallenged – not even questioning the veracity of the claims being made.

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Are “Guard Coyotes” A Thing?

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing
Guard coyotes
A coyote paruses the Wyoming range. (Photo credit: Cat Urbigkit)

Predator-prey systems (including predator-livestock conflicts) are complicated, multi-faceted, and site-specific, but an Oregon Extension publication has provided a broad solution for those of us in animal agriculture, virtually eliminating the need for lethal control of predators: Keeping well-behaved breeding pairs of coyotes in place in their territories to exclude other coyotes that may kill sheep. Thus, keeping these “guard coyotes” and “guard wolves” in place serves to protect our livestock.

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Bear Attacks Increasing Worldwide

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife

A French composer on a trip to Canada’s Northwest Territories to record the sounds of nature was attacked in his tent in the middle of the night and killed by a grizzly bear earlier this month. Such an unprovoked attack is rare, according to wildlife officials, although large carnivore attacks on humans are on the increase worldwide. Grizzly bear attacks on humans in Wyoming are part of that worldwide trend.

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In defense of gun ownership, a primer on a varied and valuable American tool

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing
The gun as a tool

When major media in our nation talk about guns, the discussion involves speakers in metropolitan areas, usually after a horrendous tragedy.

They aren’t airing interviews of people who take their children out with gundogs to hunt birds; elk hunters preparing for mountain trips they’ve dreamed about for years; former military members who enjoy competitive shooting sports; women who train to never become victims; gun collectors dedicated to preserving history; or ranchers who use firearms as tools, to name a few.

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On Climate Change & Cattle Production

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/Agriculture
On climate change and cattle

The latest report coming from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is focused on climate change and land, but something must have been garbled in the translation from Geneva because much of the U.S.-media translation emphasized that people should eat less beef and quit wasting so much food. That unfortunate result comes from reporters unwilling to make the time and effort to read the report itself, which – at hundreds of pages and still in draft form – makes for an interesting but not-pleasant task.

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Facebook Needs Agriculture, & Ag Needs Facebook

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/Agriculture
Cat Urbigkit animal agriculture

A lot of my ag friends are switching social media platforms, leaving Facebook (FB) for greener pastures. Green as in $$, since FB’s commerce policy forbids posts that “promote the sale of any animals.” Although animal-sale posts are still rampant on the platform, FB began cracking down on the posts in the last few years and has increased that activity in the last few months.

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