USDA’s Wildlife Services Sued Again: Enviro Orgs Ask Court to Halt Wildlife-Killing Program in Idaho

Story by Dan Zukowsk as published on EnviroNews.TV

“Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ‘ Welfare’ Ranchers…”

(EnviroNews Nature) — Four conservation groups filed a lawsuit on May 11, 2017, aimed at stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from killing Idaho’s wild animals. The USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) program killed more than 280,000 mammals and birds in Idaho during 2016. The animals axed include 3,860 coyotes and 72 gray wolves, along with cougars, black bears, feral dogs and more than 273,000 European starlings.

Plaintiffs in the suit include the Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) and Predator Defense. The suit alleges that the USDA has never prepared a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“Most people in Idaho would be shocked to learn how many animals Wildlife Services already kills in our state,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Senior Attorney at the Center. “Now this reckless agency wants to slaughter even more of our black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, ravens, and other wildlife using nightmarish methods like poisons and aerial gunning, without even studying the environmental consequences. Such a lackadaisical approach to wildlife management is not permitted by the law.”

Wildlife Services, an arm of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is described on the agency’s website as a program to “help people resolve wildlife damage to a wide variety of resources and to reduce threats to human health and safety.” APHIS received $1.1 billion in federal funding for fiscal year 2017.

Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ranchers. The program was the subject of a 2016 exposé in Harper’s Magazine. In a related interview with National Geographic, the author, Christopher Ketcham said, “Since its founding in 1885, Wildlife Services has served one purpose—to clean up the American West for the ranching industry, so they wouldn’t have to deal with predators or other animals they deemed pests.”

EnviroNews has previously reported that, nationwide, WS slaughtered 2.7 million wild animals in 2016. “Wildlife Services is stuck in the barbarism of the 19th century, before the full value of predators in ecosystems was understood,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project.

The USDA’s obscure, century-old wildlife-killing program traps and poisons these great many animals. It swoops in to shoot them from the air using both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Both neck and foot snares are used — methods considered inhumane by many prominent animal rights advocates. It kills coyotes with controversial M-44 cyanide bombs.

In what might be called “collateral damage,” reports of pets being killed are not uncommon. In March, 2017, a cyanide bomb left by Wildlife Services in Pocatello, Idaho killed a dog and poisoned its owner, a 14-year old boy. Between 1985 and 1993, 21 people in Arizona were injured by M-44s. A Utah man was left permanently injured and unable to work after being poisoned by one of the dangerous devices.

“It isn’t just wildlife that is directly harmed by the killing programs,” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense, in the press release. “These lethal weapons pose a risk to recreational users of public lands, their pets and the ‘nontarget’ species that die by the hundreds every year.”..”CONTINUED


8 replies »

  1. Western Watersheds Project and Center for Biological Diversity are two of the bulldogs of ecosystem protection in the legal arena. They are lean, mean fighting machines in service to the wild that hangs on by a thread. There is NO fat in their operations, and we should help them as much as we can—they are all that stand between gutting of the land and animal habitats and the rapacious greed of the Trump crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The fact that congress has known for a long time how this dept operates yet seems to be powerless against it is wrong on several levels. My congressman tried to get info out of them about the amount of tax dollars used to help the ranchers and was ignored. Checks and balances do not seem to work anymore or are there just a few who give all the protection for rogue depts like the WS.


  3. “We pride ourselves on our ability to go in and get the job done quietly without many people knowing about it,” said Dennis Orthmeyer, acting state director of Wildlife Services in California.

    3-Part investigative report by Tom Knudson
    The killing agency: Wildlife Services’ brutal methods leave a trail of animal death (part 1 of 3) – Wildlife Services is a federal agency that operates in secrecy, using brutal traps, poison and aerial gunning to kill thousands of animals, with accidental victims that include federally protected species, family pets and injured people. Sacramento Bee, Apr. 28, 2012
    Wildlife Services’ deadly force opens Pandora’s box of environmental problems (part 2 of 3) – Wildlife Services’ predator control is coming under fire from scientists, former employees and others, who say it is expensive, ineffective and can set off a chain reaction of unintended, often negative, environmental consequences. Sacramento Bee, Apr. 30, 2012
    Suggestions in changing Wildlife Services range from new practices to outright bans (part 3 of 3) – Critics of Wildlife Services suggest solutions that include nonlethal control; curtailing aerial gunning; a ban on leg-hold traps, neck snares and cyanide poison; more transparency; cutting its budget; and perhaps eliminating the agency altogether. Sacramento Bee, May 6, 2012
    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/wildlife-investigation/article2574599.html#storylink=cpy


  4. Seems the “checks & balances” in our government have been defunded, deleted & removed in every way shape & form! Dont think the current changes are the ones we all were looking for.


  5. People need to organise and go out and meet these murderers head on and stop them by force! This cannot be allowed to continue!


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