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Natural Resources & Energy

Sublette County Ranchers Say Environmental Lawsuit Could Run Them Out Of Business

Land Report Editors

Sublette County ranchers say a lawsuit challenging a U.S. Forest Service grazing permit could run them out of business along with additional negative consequences.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest approved the continuation of livestock grazing just northwest of Pinedale this past year. Part of that decision allows up to 72 grizzly bears to be killed within ten years.

Sublette County rancher Albert Sommers said removing and relocating grizzlies as far north as Cody doesn't work.

"Those bears have been back killing cattle within the same grazing season," said Sommers. We really think it if you don't control and manage those deprecating animals that it becomes increasingly difficult to run up there."

Sommers said for most of the ranchers, this contested area is the only summer grazing they have. If the bears continue to kill their cattle, they won't have enough cattle to sell to make a profit.

"If we start going out of business, and that [land] becomes developed, then you'll see more and more impacts to other wildlife. And, I'm not sure that's a good thing," said Sommers.

Sommers said grazing pastures keep the values of the West together.

Environmental groups have sued the document that allows up to 72 bears to be killed. They say the animals are still endangered and this puts the population at even higher risk.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Kamila Kudelska, at kkudelsk@uwyo.edu.

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