Pastoral Icon or Wooly Menace? Are Sheep Destroying the Planet?

In a recent Opinion piece in the New YorkTimes (Pastoral Icon or Wooly Menace), author Richard Conniff describes British environmentalist George Monbiot's problem with sheep.  According to Monbiot, because of overgrazing by sheep, the deforested uplands, including a national park, looked “like the aftermath of a nuclear winter.”  Monbiot's self-described "unhealthy obsession with sheep" has led to his instigation of an anti-sheep campaign that builds on a broader "rewilding" movement to bring native species back to Europe.  In fact, Mr. Monbiot proposes getting rid of sheep all together to be replaced by a more lucrative economy of walking and wildlife-based activities. As Conniff writes, "He [Monbiot] also argues for bringing wolves back to Britain, for reasons both scientific (“to reintroduce the complexity and trophic diversity in which our ecosystems are lacking”) and romantic (wolves are “inhabitants of the more passionate world against which we have locked our doors”). But he acknowledges that it would be foolish to force rewilding on the public. “If it happens, it should be done with the consent and active engagement of the people who live on and benefit from the land.”"   If you're a sheep producer, you've probably got a few choice words for Mr. Monbiot right about now. Kimberly Hagen did too, and she sh

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