Colorado's Kessler Out At State Vet Board After Calling Ranchers 'Lazy'

Malles Ranch
Malles Ranch
(Hall & Hall)

Ranchers expect hardships to come their way. Weather and markets top the list, of course, but ranchers must also be on constant alert for man-made interference. Those usually come in the form of government regulations or threats from activists.

Colorado ranchers have recently witnessed such a threat from an unlikely source – an appointee to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Ellen Kessler proved to be a lightning rod on Colorado’s Board of Veterinary Medicine from the moment she was appointed by Governor Jared Polis in 2020. The Colorado Veterinary Medicine Association, for instance, said in 2020 that some of its members “have expressed concern that Ms. Kessler will cause the state board to direct the veterinary profession in ways that are contrary to the needs of Colorado’s livestock industry.”

Which would seem a puzzling statement until you realize Kessler is a self-proclaimed vegan/animal rights activist. Indeed, the concerns expressed by Colorado’s veterinary community about Kessler seem well-founded.

Ranchers were suspicious of Kessler when they learned she was a friend of Polis’ husband, Marlon Reis, who is also a self-proclaimed animal rights activist.

Soon after her appointment, Kessler posted on her personal social media account that, “4-H clubs teach children that animal lives don’t matter.” That ruffled enough feathers that a petition was launched asking Polis to retract Kessler’s appointment to the veterinary board. As a member of that board, the petition noted, Kessler will be asked to guide and enforce standards for veterinary practitioners. How, many wondered, can a vegan activist perform such duties?

The anger over Kessler’s service reached a boiling point last week with another self-inflicted social media controversy. In a now-deleted Facebook post, Kessler called ranchers “lazy” and “nasty.”

Those words were used in a response to a Jan. 19 post by First Gentleman Reis that cited a story from the Missoulian on a new collaboration program with ranchers who deal with grizzly bears.

Referring to recent attacks by wolves on cattle and dogs in northern Colorado, Kessler accused ranchers of using their cows to “bait” wolves in order to receive compensation for the loss of their animals.

“These techniques could easily translate into activism in Colorado for soon-to-be-introduced wolves and other predators already living among us,” Kessler wrote. “Would our lazy and nasty ranchers/cattlemen even raise a finger to make something like this work or is (sic) using a cow to bait the wolves their solution? A living cow doesn’t make money for them. Only a dead cow does. If the slaughterhouse doesn’t pay them for the carcass, they’ll blame the predators so the state will pay them for livestock lost from predators. What a racket. What a scam.”

That post was apparently too much for Gov. Polis. His office announced Kessler’s resignation would be effective at the close of business on Feb. 11. Kessler did offer an apology to the citizens of “our great state” as she was “unprofessional in my judgement.”

Polis' office issued this statement: “The Governor appreciates that Ms. Kessler has taken responsibility for the impact of her hurtful words. He looks forward to selecting a veterinary board member that better shares his strong respect for Colorado’s hard working ranchers and helps builds confidence in the practice of veterinary medicine across our state.”


Latest News

Mineral and Vitamin Considerations When Drylotting Cows

Managing cows in a drylot can be a way to maintain the herd when forage production is reduced. However, it's important to make sure cows are getting the vitamins and minerals they need.

For the Love of the Game, How Agriculture Helped Birth the Game of Basketball

It may not seem like basketball has a strong connection to agriculture, but from the balls used in the NBA, to the sport itself, agriculture has direct ties to a sport that takes over televisions during March Madness.

Over-the-Counter Antibiotics: What You Need to Know Before June 11

On June 11, FDA’s Guidance for Industry #263 brings 91 over-the-counter antimicrobial products from OTC to prescription oversight. Three experts weigh in on why you need to prepare for this change now.

'Sacrifice Pastures' Spare Best Cattle Grazing Pastures

So-called “sacrifice pastures” might be needed to help promote forage production the rest of this cattle grazing season.

Cattle Chat: Understanding Hardware Disease

Cattle sometimes eat objects that they shouldn’t. On a recent Cattle Chat podcast, veterinarians discussed the signs of hardware disease and offered suggestions on ways to manage the incidence.

12 Ways to Prevent the Spread of Disease in Feedlots

Sound management, health protocols and facilities maintenance can help achieve the ultimate goal of keeping cattle healthy and productive.