Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Federal judge slams USDA’s wildlife-killing agency

“Beef, it’s what’s for dinner. With a large side of wildlife slaughter.” ~ Madravenspeak column, “Federal Wildlife Services Program Serves Up Poison”

“Jane Goodall gave the documentary about (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s) Wildlife Services, “EXPOSED,” rave reviews and wants millions to see it,” according to the website Predator Defense. “(W)histle-blowers go on the record showing Wildlife Services for what it really is — an unaccountable, out-of-control, wildlife killing machine that acts at the bidding of corporate agriculture and the hunting lobby, all with taxpayer dollars.” It’s on YouTube here.

“The U.S. government is using your tax money to wage a war against wild animals so that ranchers raising livestock for meat can keep getting richer,” according to Sarah V. Schweig, writing on the website The Dodo.

In 1895, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services was initiated to promote beef production and control natural predators and rodents. It responds to requests from individual ranchers, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and state agencies governing wildlife management. It has since expanded its agenda to serve hunters and trappers.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, this secretive agency killed over 32 million of our native wildlife since 1996, and “it often doesn’t even attempt to use nonlethal methods before shooting coyotes and wolves from airplanes, or laying out traps and exploding poison caps indiscriminately — including in public areas — without any rules. Stories about Wildlife Services consistently emerge describing an agency that commits extreme cruelty against animals, leaving them to die in traps from exposure or starvation, attacking trapped coyotes, and brutalizing domestic dogs.”

On June 22, a federal judge found the Wildlife Service had acted capriciously. The Center for Biological Diversity’s June 25 press release says: “In a powerful rebuke, a federal judge has ruled that a U.S. agency that kills thousands of animals a year in Idaho failed to adequately analyze the environmental risks of shooting, trapping and poisoning native wildlife like mountain lions, coyotes and foxes.”

The court found that Wildlife Services “acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner deciding not to prepare an EIS (environmental impact study).”

Wildlife Services killed over 3,860 coyotes in Idaho in 2016.

While Wildlife Services is hired to kill natural predators and ravens to “save” sage grouse in Idaho, Idaho hunters are still killing sage grouse.

An account by Sarah Schweig for The Dodo in 2017, documented that: “despite persistent outrage from the public, the U.S. government (Wildlife Services) killed 2.7 million wild animals in 2016, 3.2 million wild animals in 2015 and 2.7 million wild animals in 2014.”

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Wildlife Services has long been secretive for a reason: Its actions are incredibly, unacceptably and illegally brutal and inhumane to animals, from familiar wildlife to endangered species — and even people’s pets.

“This agency has been killing as many as 3 million native animals every year — including coyotes, bears, beavers, wolves, otters, foxes, prairie dogs, mountain lions, birds and other animals — without any oversight, accountability or requirement to disclose its activities to the public. The agency contributed to the decline of gray wolves, Mexican wolves,black-footed ferrets, black-tailed prairie dogs, and other imperiled species during the first half of the 1900s, and continues to impede their recovery today.”

In Wisconsin in 2017, Wildlife Services reported killing 28,710 wildlife, including unintentional killing in foothold traps, river otters, muskrats, great blue herons, turtles, geese, ducks, white-tailed deer. Intentionally, the agency killed red-winged blackbirds, woodchucks, 1,811 beavers in body-gripping traps, 27 beavers in neck snares, 5 black bears, 7 coyotes in neck snares, intentionally shot 29 mute swans, 4 striped skunks, 105 rock pigeons, 38 killdeers, 1 great blue heron, 426 ring-billed gulls, 142 herring gulls, 26 mallards, 35 wild white-tailed deer, 10 sandhill cranes, 346 double-crested cormorants (they eat some fish), 3 Harrier hawks, and 6 red-tailed hawks. They intentionally killed a snowy owl!

“The irony is state governments and the federal government are spending millions of dollars to preserve species and then (you have) Wildlife Services out there killing the same animals,” said Michael Mares, president of the American Society of Mammalogists in an interview with the Sacramento Bee. “It boggles the mind.”

One of the most complete investigations into Wildlife Services and its killing of rare and endangered beloved animals like Golden Eagles and super rare wolverines was done by Tom Knudsen of the Sacramento Bee in 2012. His reporting included the information that Wildlife Services killed over 1,100 dogs between 2000 and 2012. On average, eight dogs a month have been killed by mistake by Wildlife Services since 2000. The trappers are taught to bury endangered species and dogs and discard collars without reporting. Knudsen’s work is worth reading. Then contact your federal legislators to end this outdated, cruel, and destructive killing agency.

This is wanton killing that ignores a mass extinction that threatens all of us. Speak up.

Take Action:

See the trailer here for Project Coyote’s award-winning documentary, “Killing Games.” 

The best thing citizens can do is call and email your federal legislators to end Wildlife Services funding once and for all. Find your legislators here.

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