“An Arizona wildlife official photographed these heads of mountain lions killed to “protect” cattle in 1989 by Wildlife Services, formerly Animal Damage Control, and provided to the state agency for research. In 2005, Wildlife Services killed 330 mountain lions nationally.”
UPDATE: May 6, 2012
I’m pulling this post back up to the top of the blog because the SacBee posted the third part of their expose on
Animal Damage Control Wildlife Services today. Please scroll down for link.
It’s been a long time coming. Animal Damage Control, better known by the misnomer Wildlife Services, is finally getting their due. WildEarth Guardians is suing the agency and it couldn’t come any sooner.
From the Washington Post:
“They are asking in a lawsuit filed Monday that a federal judge in Nevada shut down the agency that spent $127 million in 2010 to exterminate more than 5 million animals.”
At the same time, in a three-part series, the Sacramento Bee is exposing the agencies’ dark, dirty secrets.
Wildlife Services is a barbaric federal agency, the extermination arm of the USDA. They relentlessly kill America’s wildlife because agriculture considers any animal that gets in its way to be collateral damage. This federal goon squad shoots, traps, poisons, snares and slaughters millions of animals every year and no group of animals has suffered more than predators. The war on wolves, bears, coyotes and mountain lions has been merciless. The suffering this agency causes is immeasurable.
The Sacramento Bee’s Exposé On Wildlife Services
The killing agency: Wildlife Services’ brutal methods leave a trail of animal death
First of three parts
The day began with a drive across the desert, checking the snares he had placed in the sagebrush to catch coyotes.
Gary Strader, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stepped out of his truck near a ravine in Nevada and found something he hadn’t intended to kill.
There, strangled in a neck snare, was one of the most majestic birds in America, a federally protected golden eagle.
“I called my supervisor and said, ‘I just caught a golden eagle and it’s dead,’ ” said Strader. “He said, ‘Did anybody see it?’ I said, ‘Geez, I don’t think so.’
“He said, ‘If you think nobody saw it, go get a shovel and bury it and don’t say nothing to anybody.’ ”
Wildlife Services’ deadly force opens Pandora’s box of environmental problems
Second of three parts
Like the prow of a ship, the Granite Mountains rise sharply from the creamy-white playa of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
Here, in rugged terrain owned by the American public, a little-known federal agency called Wildlife Services has waged an eight-year war against predators to try to help an iconic Western big-game species: mule deer.
With rifles, snares and aerial gunning, employees have killed 967 coyotes and 45 mountain lions at a cost of about $550,000. But like a mirage, the dream of protecting deer by killing predators has not materialized.
“It didn’t make a difference,” said Kelley Stewart, a large-mammal ecologist at the University of Nevada, Reno.
For decades, Wildlife Services, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has specialized in trapping, poisoning and shooting predators in large numbers, largely to protect livestock and, more recently, big game.
Now such killing is coming under fire from scientists, former employees and others who say it often doesn’t work and can set off a chain reaction of unintended, often negative consequences.
Unforgiving Snares and How They Work
Long struggles in leg-hold device make for gruesome deaths
No tool in Wildlife Services’ arsenal kills more nonselectively – or slowly – than the leg-hold trap.
Since 2000, more than 90 species of wildlife have died by mistake in agency traps, including pronghorn antelope, mule deer, river otters, swift foxes, badgers, porcupines and federally protected bald eagles, government records show.
But whether animals are caught accidentally or not, they often struggle for days and die of exposure, injuries and other causes long before a trapper returns to the site.
Environmental group sues to halt killing practices of federal wildlife agency
The federal government’s wildlife damage control program is based on outdated science and indiscriminate tools that kill many non-target animals, including protected species, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by WildEarth Guardians, a Colorado-based environmental group.
Suggestions in changing Wildlife Services range from new practices to outright bans
Last of three parts
Like many ranchers, Bill Jensen drives a pickup, shoots a high-powered rifle and loves to talk about sheep, cattle and the outdoors.
But unlike many ranchers, he no longer relies on the federal government for predator control.
Nor does the Marin County rancher have a choice. Ten years ago Marin, known for its environmental activism, halted lethal federal control and launched a program emphasizing nonlethal methods. Jensen, initially skeptical, has turned the program into a success with miles of electric fencing.
“We’ve pretty much learned how to control coyotes on our own,” said Jensen, whose losses to coyotes have declined 60 percent to 70 percent – from about 50 lambs a year when a federal trapper worked there to 15 to 20 today. “Anything that can help you 24 hours a day, like electric fencing, is a good thing.”
What’s happening in Marin County shows that ranchers can co-exist with predators without lethal federal control. It is part of a broader and varied spirit of reform aimed at finding new, less destructive ways to live with predators and other wildlife.
Wildlife Services At Work
Thanksgiving Week Massacre of Basin Butte Wolves
December 6, 2009
Remembering The Hog Heaven Wolf Pack
October 23, 2009
Sage Creek Pack Wiped Out By Aerial Gunners In Montana
October 10, 2009
Thank you WildEarth Guardians and The Sacramento Bee for shining a very bright light on this gruesome agency that should be defunded or eliminated altogether.
Top Photo: Missoula Independent
Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Posted in: Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, Wolf Wars
Tags: USDA, Animal Damage Control AKA Wildlife Services, Sacramento Bee, WildEarth Guardians, war on wildlife, traps, snares, 1080 compound, M-44’s, Sage Creek Pack, Hog Heaven Pack, Basin Butte Pack