Cows as an Invasive Species

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“Grazing has its place in just about every agricultural system that involves livestock. This includes cows bred to produce “organic” dairy products, or those set to become “grass-fed beef,” who will graze for two to three years before slaughter, or cows bred for their flesh or milk in the factory farming system who will graze for up to one year before being transported to feedlots.

However the particular breeding, feeding and killing operation is conducted, humans are introducing large numbers of grazing cattle into areas where cows were not previously found. This has an enormous impact on native ecosystems – so much so that grazing cattle now have the character of an invasive species.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the ecological costs of grazing livestock are greater than any other form of land use in the West. In the arid Southwestern United States, livestock grazing is the leading cause of species endangerment, while also contributing to desertification and soil erosion.

While the industry tries to paint an idyllic picture of pastures of ranchers raising livestock in a traditional and sustainable manner, while merely protecting their livelihood by “maintaining” other invasive species, further investigation reveals that it is in fact the grazers who are the invasive species. It turns out that the purported threats are not ecologically invasive, but financially invasive for the pockets of the Bureau of Land Management and the cattle industry.”

Full article here.

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