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Four Animals Hit on Sublette County Roads in Less Than An Hour; Cow Survives

in News/Accident
13779

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

After four animals were hit by vehicles in the span of less than an hour, the Sublette County Sheriff’s office put out a reminder to the public that wildlife this time of year is more likely to be on and around Wyoming’s roads.

“We are at that time of year when animals are migrating, its darker longer and harder to see them. So slow down and give animals a ‘brake’,” the office said in a statement.

Between 5:40am – 6:30am on Tuesday, four animals were struck including two deer, one moose, and a cow. Of those, only the cow survived. No people were injured in the accidents.

“The cow is OK,” Sgt. Travis Bingham told Cowboy State Daily. “It walked off. The moose was pretty messed up so they had to put it down. The cow was in good shape, however, with no injuries.”

The spate of vehicle vs. animal accidents in such a short time frame is unusual, Bingham said. But this time of year, motorists should expect to see wildlife on the road, especially between dusk and dawn.

The best way to avoid problems, he said, is to slow down and to stay vigilant.

“Pay particular attention to the barrow ditches on both sides of the road because they can come out of nowhere,” he said.

Although Sublette County does have elevated wildlife crossings and higher fences on some roads to keep wildlife off of busy highways, these could lead motorists to have a false sense of security.

“People think because of the bridges and bigger game fences that the roads will be clear,” Bingham said. “They think animals can’t possibly be on the road, but they still get through.”

Saying that, Bingham did say that the wildlife crossings have made roads safer for both motorists and animals.

“Deer used to get slaughtered through some of these areas,” he said. “So they’ve helped but they still get through.”

Upon approaching wildlife on a highway, sometimes the best strategy is just to apply the brakes and plow into them, he said.

“Swerving into oncoming traffic is a horrible idea because the last thing you want is a head-on,” he said. “And you don’t want to swerve into a ditch either. And you don’t want to lock your breaks with someone right behind you.”

“Sometimes it’s just better to take the hit if you can’t stop and react fast enough rather than to try to swerve,” he said.

Bingham said there have been 128 collisions with wildlife so far this year in Sublette County. Of those accidents, 73% have involved deer. Moose and antelope account for 20% of the accidents.

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On Climate Change & Cattle Production

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/Agriculture
On climate change and cattle
1796

By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

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.

The report has some important findings, such as this: “Policies that operate across the food system, including those that reduce food loss and waste and influence dietary choices, enable more sustainable land-use management, enhanced food security and low emissions trajectories. Such policies can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, reduce land degradation, desertification and poverty as well as improve public health. The adoption of sustainable land management and poverty eradication can be enabled by improving access to markets, securing land tenure, factoring environmental costs into food, making payments for ecosystem services, and enhancing local and community collective action.”

But that’s not what made the headlines last week.

As the Sustainable Food Trust points out, “Contrary to some of today’s headlines that are calling for a shift to exclusively plant-based diets, the conclusions of the report actually find that balanced diets should include animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-greenhouse gas emission systems, and that these present major opportunities for climate adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health.”

“As the report highlights, diverse, locally appropriate mixed farming, which counters the damage done by years of continuous arable cropping reliant on chemical inputs, will have a transformative effect on the environment, climate and public health.”

The problem with a global report is simply that it’s global, and each locality/county/state/nation has its own issues that add to the global situation. When it comes to livestock emissions, the IPCC report notes: “All estimates agree that cattle are the main source of global livestock emissions (65–77%). Livestock in low and middle-income countries contribute 70% of the emissions from ruminants and 53% from monogastric livestock (animals without ruminant digestion processes …), and these are expected to increase as demand for livestock products increases in these countries.”

Most (90%) of the world’s cattle are not located in the United States. India has the largest cattle inventory in the world, at more than 300 million, or 30% of the world’s cattle population (domestic water buffalos are included in India’s statistics). While it’s legal to send buffalos to slaughter for human consumption, across majority-Hindu India (which views cattle as sacred) the slaughter of cattle is illegal and the country has enacted numerous cow protection laws. Poor people unable to afford to continue feeding and caring for unproductive livestock are unable to sell the animals, so many are simply abandoned.

Brazil is the number-two country for its cattle inventory, and has been widely criticized for its clearcutting of forest to accommodate more grazing, but that widespread practice has been substantially curtailed in the last decade.

Increasing cattle productivity, as we’ve been doing in the United States, has brought great gains in reducing GHG emissions. Although the cattle inventory in the United States declined over the last 40 years, cattle productivity has increased at the same time (providing more pounds of beef), and most importantly, total methane emissions from the nation’s cattle decreased during that same time. 

Cattle producers in the United States will continue to provide leadership in mitigating the impact of their animals through genetic improvements and selection for feed efficiency, and overall improvements in animal health, reproduction, and reproductive lifespans.

So while we should all strive to eat healthy foods, you don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying American beef – especially beef that comes from the western range {See Figure1: Livestock methane emissions}.

From “Discrepancies and Uncertainties in Bottom-up Gridded Inventories of Livestock Methane Emissions for the Contiguous United States”, Environmental Science & Technology, 2017512313668-13677, Publication Date: November 2, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b03332.
Figure 1.* Gridded (0.1° × 0.1°) livestock methane emissions (Mg/yr/km2) for the contiguous United States: enteric fermentation, cattle (panel A); manure management, cattle (panel B), manure management, cattle, swine, and poultry [panel C; swine and poultry emissions are presented on a county level for the top 5−6 producing states (see text) and on a state level for the remaining states], and cattle enteric and livestock (cattle, swine, and poultry) manure management (panel D, which is the sum of panels A and C). 

As the IPCC reports: “In contrast to the increasing trend in absolute GHG emissions, GHG emissions intensities, defined as GHG emissions per unit produced, have declined globally and are about 60% lower today than in the 1960s. This is largely due to improved meat and milk productivity of cattle breeds.”

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.

* Note on Figure 1: From “Discrepancies and Uncertainties in Bottom-up Gridded Inventories of Livestock Methane Emissions for the Contiguous United States”, Environmental Science & Technology, 2017512313668-13677, Publication Date: November 2, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b03332.

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