CORVALLIS, Ore. — Eight researchers in a new report have suggested that climate change is causing additional stress to many western rangelands, and as a result land managers should consider a significant reduction or elimination of livestock and other large animals from public lands.
A growing degradation of grazing lands could be mitigated if large areas of Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service lands became free of use by livestock and “feral ungulates” such as wild horses and burros, and high populations of deer and elk were reduced, the group of scientists said.
This would help arrest the decline and speed the recovery of affected ecosystems, they said, and provide a basis for comparative study of grazing impacts under a changing climate. The direct economic and social impacts might also be offset by a higher return on other ecosystem services and land uses, they said, although the report focused on ecology, not economics.
Their findings were reported last week in Environmental Management, a professional journal published by Springer.