Arizona Ranchers Prevent Another Bundy-style Standoff — Jon Gabriel

 

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was in a tense standoff with federal agents over the weekend. He wanted to keep grazing his cattle on the federal land his family has used for decades. Washington, D.C. wanted him to pay for those rights or they would seize his livestock.

After Bundy supporters flocked to the scene and a media spectacle followed, the feds backed off — at least for the time being. Much of the reporting has been contradictory, but the government claimed to be protecting the desert tortoise in the area. D.C. claims the reptile is endangered by grazing cows, while Bundy calls this nonsense.

There was a similar Rancher vs. Tortoise battle in Arizona. Through wise legal maneuvering and scientific savvy, this standoff was a win for both the cowboys and the reptiles. The anti-progress environmentalists and bureaucrats were the only losers.

In 2008, an environmental group called Wild Earth Guardians sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Sonoran Desert Tortoise as an endangered species. Several years earlier, green groups got the Mojave Desert Tortoise listed and blamed livestock grazing as a key threat to the species. This is the tortoise that drove Bundy’s fellow ranchers out of business.

Arizonans didn’t want to suffer the same fate. Rancher Walt Meyer, an esteemed range scientist and former professor, launched an intensive study of the tortoises to see if grazing was really a problem. When Wild Earth Guardians claimed the reptiles were endangered and ranchers were to blame, Meyer submitted his 18-year-long, peer-reviewed study proving just the opposite.

A local land management agency called the Winkelman Natural Resource Conservation District used their legal standing to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to certify that Meyer’s study was the best scientific information available. As a result, the Sonoran Desert Tortoise was not listed as an endangered species and Arizona ranchers remain free to practice their trade.

The environmentalists expected to be up against unsophisticated cowboys, not wily attorneys and science professors. Meyer and his fellow Winkelman ranchers beat the feds and the greens at their own game. In the process, they showed how other local groups can fight back against the Luddites who wish to destroy their way of life.

There are 19 comments.

  1. Inactive

    “In the process, they showed how other local groups can fight back against the Luddites who wish to destroy OUR way of life.”

    Fixed that for you. ;)

    • #1
    • April 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm
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  2. Thatcher

    Someone explain to me how we can’t sue the president when he violates the Constitution because we don’t have “standing” but we can sue the government on behalf of a turtle.

    Spoiler Alert: Your explanation will be unsatisfactory.

    • #2
    • April 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm
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  3. Coolidge

    Love, love, love stories like this one!!! May the wins continue.

    Unfortunately, the eco nuts aren’t that concerned about the environment. The idea is to get as many species (and sub, and sub sub species) listed on the endangered list in order to have control over the land. Control over peoples’ actions, not good stewardship of the earth, Not suprisingly, this fits right in with the current administration’s goals of land takings and general control. (I separated the two because the EPA, for example, is completely outside the oversight of Congress. And that’s our fault for letting our representatives and senators hand over to the EPA the rule-making, and then allowing them to become the judge, jury and executioner.)

    • #3
    • April 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm
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  4. Moderator

    “And the cow shall live with the tortoise…” Not quite the same ring as, “And the wolf shall live with the lamb,” but not bad, either.

    That letting cattle graze on land in something reasonably close to its natural state would not significantly harm the tortoises is not a complete surprise. And I imagine that from the tortoise’s perspective, having to share one’s stomping (OK, plodding) grounds with cows beats being carted off to some tortoise concentration camp (OK, tortoise shelter which happens to euthanize its tortoises during budget crises).

    • #4
    • April 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm
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  5. Thatcher

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    “And the cow shall live with the tortoise…” Not quite the same ring as, “And the wolf shall live with the lamb,” but not bad, either.

    That letting cattle graze on land in something reasonably close to its natural state would not significantly harm the tortoises is not a complete surprise. And I imagine that from the tortoise’s perspective, having to share one’s stomping (OK, plodding) grounds with cows beats being carted off to some tortoise concentration camp (OK, tortoise shelter which happens to euthanize its tortoises during budget crises).

    We must build a turtle fence!

    • #5
    • April 15, 2014 at 1:57 pm
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  6. Inactive

    The only thing the Endangered Species Act doesn’t protect is the right of citizens to live unmolested by the authorities. If the government wants to survey a given acre of land, you can bet there’s at least one resident critter found nowhere else in the world – and that can include bacteria if so designated by the EPA. It’s not about turtles anymore than the ACA is about healthcare. The EPA has outlived its usefulness and is now an impediment to human liberty. It’s time the alphabet agencies went the way of the passenger pigeon, and good riddance.

    • #6
    • April 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm
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  7. Moderator

    Mike H:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    “And the cow shall live with the tortoise…” Not quite the same ring as, “And the wolf shall live with the lamb,” but not bad, either.

    That letting cattle graze on land in something reasonably close to its natural state would not significantly harm the tortoises is not a complete surprise. And I imagine that from the tortoise’s perspective, having to share one’s stomping (OK, plodding) grounds with cows beats being carted off to some tortoise concentration camp (OK, tortoise shelter which happens to euthanize its tortoises during budget crises).

    We must build a turtle fence!

     I love the Gregory Brothers!

    What I didn’t know, until I listened to the original turtle-fence speech, is that that particular turtle fence didn’t just fence turtles out of the highway, it also fenced some unfortunate turtles in, “driv[ing] peace-loving turtles to suicide”.

    • #7
    • April 15, 2014 at 2:50 pm
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  8. Thatcher

    Site glitch…

    • #8
    • April 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm
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  9. Member

    Mike H:

    Someone explain to me how we can’t sue the president when he violates the Constitution because we don’t have “standing” but we can sue the government on behalf of a turtle.

    Spoiler Alert: Your explanation will be unsatisfactory.

     Because Congress passed a law that said we could. The law could always be changed back so Environmental groups could not use the Tryanny of the courts to destroy Representative government. However, Republicans would actually have to care and actually be small government instead of Lie about it for that to ever happen.

    • #9
    • April 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm
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  10. Inactive

    Secession looking more like a reasonable possibility all the time.

    • #10
    • April 15, 2014 at 6:01 pm
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  11. Member

    As a local, I was glad to hear about this. Usually, the right is vastly out-lawyered…

    • #11
    • April 15, 2014 at 10:25 pm
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  12. Inactive

    Here is a wild idea. We need a radical conservationist group to sue to get the urban brown rat on the endangered species list. Then posit that city dwellers are the problem. Then everyone has to move to the country and the blue state power base is shattered.

    That would make a fun alt-history sci-fi book.

    • #12
    • April 16, 2014 at 5:09 am
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