Roaming Cattle In Our Florida Parks

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If you hike, you’ve seen them. Roaming cattle. But why?

My latest video was shot this past weekend at Little Big Econlockhatchee Wildlife Management Area which sits along side the St Johns River. As you hike through the land towards the river, you’ll run across cattle grazing. Oh, and piles of crap too, a lot of them and they are everywhere.

I’ve researched and found that the park system and wildlife management areas have worked out deals for these animals to roam the land and graze. I remember hiking in a Virginia State Park (Sky Meadows State Park) and running across roaming cattle up there as well so the idea has spread.

I did a little more digging…

In Florida, it costs $80M per year to run the parks (2015). In an effort to become self sustaining, the park service has resorted to logging (non-native timber) and leasing their land to allow roaming cattle to graze.

I’m 100% 50/50 on this.

Talk about being indecisive on my part but really, if the park system can turn anything into a positive then I’m all for it. As long as native plants and trees are planted for any non-native that is removed and the cattle don’t decide to riot and take a nearby town hostage, why not?

I hike often, I pick up other people’s trash, I warn dog walkers to get away from alligator infested shorelines and I keep quiet unless I’m rounding a mountain top in a bear infested forest. I’m a good hiker and outdoorsman and hope I leave a good example for others through outdoor education. I also hope that the park service will continue to test and even expand this mentality to become more self sufficient in the future as lawmakers seem to view our parks as open space that sits and wastes money. I believe that if we can show value but keep the lands valuable for experiences and education, we’ll be just fine.

We’ll see…


Chris spends his time photographing and taking video of wildlife and nature. He spent 2 years in high school studying forestry (Gainesville, FL) and is currently studying to be an Advanced Master Naturalist at the University of Florida. His mission is to inspire others to get outside and learn.