As public lands in the West get more crowded with outdoor enthusiasts, the ranching industry must figure out how to coexist with more people and their pets.

Putting out lethal poison to kill predators on public grazing allotments isn’t conducive to a happy coexistence. It is truly horrible PR.

The Environmental Protection Agency re-cently hit the pause button on a debate over col-

lateral damage caused by baited cyanide bombs

and backed off from reauthorizing their use.

Reauthorization would have come with new requirements to notify residents within a half mile of the devices, placement at least 100 feet from public roads and trails, and signs located within 15 feet of the devices.

The rules didn’t satisfy opponents because they will not stop the killing of nontarget species. Skunks, bears, dogs, raccoons and foxes can’t read. The devices have killed hundreds every year.

Americans love the idea of the West’s roving cattle herds and bucolic bands of sheep. They love the nation’s wildlife, too.

It’s hard for them to square the image of self-reliant cowboys and sturdy sheepherders with explosive poison that kills any animal that touches it. It’s contrary to the “cowboy way,” a fair contest for survival between man and nature.

Livestock shouldn’t be left helpless on the range. A cowboy or cowgirl with a good rifle and modern penning could keep them safe.

Meat and wool would cost more, but the price would protect wildlife, family pets and kids like the Idaho boy exposed to cyanide when his dog exploded one of the devices. It’s a price worth paying.

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