Day 3: Wild Wednesday
Don't forget to tag #WildlifeWeek on social media.
- Share: Sign the Center's petition asking the USDA to promote sustainable diets and share it with friends on social media.
- Eat: Don’t forget to check the Wildlife Week calendar for daily recipe and meal ideas. Every time you eat less meat you save wildlife and help protect the planet. To motivate yourself and others, post a picture of a meatless meal on social media.
- Act: Post a video to Facebook or Instagram with a sentence about why you are strutting your stuff for the sage grouse.
Today's featured recipes: Grouse-approved Grub
Featured Wildlife: Greater and Bi-state Sage Grouse
Think dating is hard in college? Just look at the mating rituals of the sage grouse and you may start to think humans have it easy. Every year sage grouse travel to ancestral mating grounds where males create special sounds using wing motions and inflatable air sacs on their chests as part of an elaborate dance to attract females. Because of livestock grazing, development, off-road vehicles, barbed wire fences and other threats, the sage grouse is disappearing from the western United States (15).
Sage grouse are particular about their habitat for mating and nesting, so when livestock grazing alters the plant composition, it’s often no longer suitable for the birds. Meanwhile fencing hinders their ability to migrate. In 2010 the Obama administration announced that while the greater sage grouse deserves Endangered Species Act listing, protection would not be granted due to a lack of resources. Without federal protection in place, sage grouse populations have declined by as much as 70 percent (15).
In April 2015 the U.S. interior secretary again announced that the sage grouse would not be placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. This was justified by the enactment of a “Bi-State Action Plan” that the governor of Nevada described as a “conservation action” that “preclude[s] the need to list the species [as endangered] while still allowing for sustainable economic development.” The plan is intended to protect sage grouse in California and Nevada (16), but many are concerned that it doesn’t adequately protect the birds from the dangers posed by livestock grazing and habitat loss.
- Livestock grazing
- Habitat loss and fragmentation from land development, grazing, spread of invasive plants
- Off-road vehicles
- Barbed wire fences
- Hunting (continues in California)
- Climate change
- Fossil fuel development
Key Threat From Meat Production: Grazing
College students may eat a lot, especially during marathon study sessions, but they’re no match for a cow. The average cow and her calf need about 600-1,000 pounds of food every month (17).
Livestock grazing is promoted, protected and subsidized by federal agencies on 270 million acres of public land in 11 western states (18). Extensive studies have documented the devastating environmental impacts of overgrazing cattle, including erosion and soil loss, water pollution, degradation of wetland and stream habitats and spread of invasive plants (18). Government policy prioritizes private livestock interests over protecting public land and wildlife habitat, and grazing trumps conservation efforts. Whether wildlife are fenced in at the behest of ranchers or gradually pushed off increasingly polluted and degraded land, many wild species are facing a crisis of homelessness due to the presence of livestock.