Obama asked for executive order-

This is clearly something the President could do quickly to rehabilitate his tarnished image on wildlife. Ironically, it was President Richard Nixon who in 1972 issued Executive Order 11643 banning the use of poisons to control predators on Federal land. Reagan later weakened this. In addition, there is plenty of poison available. Much of it is left over from the 1970s.

While in the Senate, now Interior Secretary Salazar was one of those who opposed efforts to ban the use of compound 1080, an extremely poisonous, colorless, tasteless, odorless, substance that creates an agonizing death, and which would be an ideal poison for use by terrorists to put in a municipal water supply.

Meanwhile, as far as aerial gunning goes, USFA’s Wildlife Services killed off a famous Idaho wolf pack this week (more on this later). They used one or more of their aerial gunships.

Update 11-28.2009. A lot of newspapers picked up the AP story by John Miller on the petition.

Petition from WildEarth Guardians-

WildEarth Guardians Seeks End of Aerial Gunning & Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands

Denver, CO. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should stop sending its agents up in aircraft to shoot coyotes and planting lethal cyanide booby traps on the nation’s forests and other federal lands, according to a formal request filed today by WildEarth Guardians with the Obama administration.

“Federal wildlife-killing programs are unsafe, illegal, and reckless,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians. “We call upon the Obama administration to protect our native carnivores on the Nation’s public lands.”

WildEarth Guardians asked President Barack Obama to issue an Executive Order and/or that the Departments of Interior and Agriculture develop an administrative-rulemaking process to implement a new management paradigm for native carnivores on the Nation’s public lands.

The petition highlights the science documenting the critical role that carnivores play in ecosystems and also asserts that lethal control methods reflect an outdated value system that inappropriately elevates livestock production above wildlife.

“Our federal government and others indiscriminately kill tens of thousands of animals on public lands each year,” stated Keefover-Ring. While one federal agency spends millions of dollars to restore species such as wolves, another spends millions to slaughter them. Today, we have asked the Obama administration to end the war on our wildlife by stopping aerial gunning and poisoning on federal lands.”

The petition alleges that aerial gunning is not being adequately overseen by the Department of Interior, as is required under the Airborne Hunting Act. Under the Act, individual states are required to file annual reports with the DOI that provide information about aerial gunning permits issued, the kinds and numbers of wildlife killed, where they are killed, and why. It appears the Department is not requiring states to file reports and comply with the law.

“In April, we filed a records request with the DOI, and seven months later, the agency has been unable to show us that it is adequately monitoring aerial gunning activities for the past ten years including acts that appear to be illegal,” stated Keefover-Ring. “So we have called upon President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to place an immediate moratorium on aerial gunning activities.”

• In early October, the Associated Press reported that an Idaho man, Carl Ball, illegally fired upon wolves, and possibly killed one. It appeared that neither the Idaho Department of Game and Fish nor the Department of Interior had initiated a law enforcement action against Mr. Ball although the incident occurred in June.

• In April, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services agent was fired from his job for complaining about illegal aerial gunning activities involving mountain lions in Nevada.

The lack of accountability likely contributes to the fact that aerial gunning is not only deadly for wildlife, but often times for pilots and gunners as well. We have documented 119 aerial gunning accidents. Pilots fly into power lines and trees. Gunners shoot their own engines, and when they fail to make a clean kill, they double back into their own turbulence and plummet from wind shears, stated Keefover-Ring. Ending aerial-gunning activities makes sense given the danger to both wildlife and people.

The petition also targets two poisons: sodium cyanide capsules (used in M-44 ejectors) and sodium fluoroacetate (known as Compound 1080”), a toxicant used in livestock protection collars strapped to the heads of sheep and goats. Both agents are classified by EPA as having the highest degree of acute toxicity. Compound 1080 is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, water-soluble toxin considered by several countries as a chemical weapon for its potential threat to water supplies. Compound 1080 has already been banned in California and Oregon but remains legal in eleven states.

WildEarth Guardians also argues that the coyote hunts do not provide relief to agribusiness, or the ungulate-growing business (some state game and fish agencies attempt to artificially bolster ungulate populations for hunting revenues). Studies show that the coyotes compensate for killing operations by bearing larger litters, permitting more animals in the pack to breed, or through immigration strategies. Coyotes indirectly protect ground-nesting birds such as sage grouse because they prey on smaller carnivores such as foxes that utilize birds as food.

“When top carnivores such as coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions thrive, so does the balance of nature. Their presence ensures better ecosystem function, particularly in the arid West, and their presence dramatically increases the numbers of other species present. Americans appreciate and value knowing that wild wolves, bears, lynx and other carnivores thrive on our national forests. It’s high time to end the war on wildlife,” stated Keefover-Ring.

Read the petition (PDF)

See WildEarth Guardians’ report

See See Wildlife Services Exterminates 125% More Animals in 2008

Learn about the Wildlife Services. Whistleblower Aerial-Gunning Complaint

View Aerial Gunning Accidents Records by USDA, States, and Individuals

See Wildlife Services Expenditures and History (PDF)

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

39 Responses to WildEarth Guardians Seeks End of Aerial Gunning, Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands

  1. avatar kt says:

    That is great news! Good for Guardians.

    Until Salazar gets sent home to the ranch to be with his cattle, though, O expect nothing will change.

  2. avatar Devin says:

    Ralph, speaking of Wildlife Services and predator control, how much do you know about the Pocatello Supply Depot?

    I can’t believe that the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce is actually on board as a trustee for a government agency that “manufactures products such as gas cartridges, poison grain baits, M-44s, M-44 capsules, scents and scent tabs, and Electronic Guards.”

    I really hope Obama listens to this request. Wendy also has a very nice report from earlier last year that details a lot of information as well, http://www.wildearthguardians.org/Portals/0/support_docs/report-war-on-wildlife-june-09-lo.pdf

  3. avatar hilljack says:

    Poison on public land should be outlawed for good. It is to indiscriminant and dangerous to pets as well as all scavengers. Personally I think aerial gunning is going a little too far. I would much rather have hunters like myself out chasing the predators. Maybe they could have a derby near the ranchers that think they have problems with predators.

  4. Devin,

    I’m well aware of the Pocatello Supply Depot. It sits 1/2 block from the railroad tracks. It’s very obscure, although I recently went over a took a whole bunch of photos of it.

    I was pleased when an hour later the police showed up. I took the policeman that I was very happy to see him. It was indication that the place is in fact guarded.

    It is about a mile-and-a-half from where I live. Most of the time the wind blows toward the depot, rather than away. The wind blows toward campus.

    I’m sure you know Professor Nilson. He lives very close to it. He told me the other day that 8-10 years ago the building that is attached to the depot caught on fire!! He evacuated. I don’t recall reading about this.

    Devin. You might want to make this a project. You will probably get yourself on the Homeland Security Watch list. I think you have to be a poison user rather than a public complainer to avoid getting listed.

  5. avatar Devin says:

    Ralph,
    Interesting note, I first learned about the PSD a few weeks ago while working on anti-coyote predation project for one of Dr. Lybecker’s classes. I looked around on government and other web docs and found very very little on the site itself. So…I stopped by there about two weeks ago and asked for a product list (they wouldn’t let me inside but rather made me wait outside for about 10 minutes before someone came out). I mentioned that I knew they manufactured M44’s and I was curious what else they made, as both a student and citizen of Pocatello, and you should have seen the look on the employees face. She then got very quiet and contentious. She said she couldn’t tell me anything and to call a phone number for the Dept of Ag public relations in Colorado.

    I’ve been busy with other projects ( Dr. McBeth’s Policy Analysis class is lots of fun but lots of work 🙂 ) but I hope to pursue the issue further although it seems like many many brick walls will be hit. I feel that the city of Pocatello needs to be aware of building and its function, both in terms of safety and in just knowledge of their mission. I worry about my family should something happen at that building and some 1080 compound be released.

  6. Thanks Devin,

    I worry off and on about the place, like when I hear a big boom in the Pocatello trainyard.

    I learned about it a long time ago, and it has been here a long time before that. There is a cornerstone on it that says U.S. Biological Survey 1938 (that’s from back when Wildlife Services was hiding under the name “Biological Survey”).

  7. avatar Joel says:

    What is the famous Idaho wolf pack that was killed off this week?

  8. avatar Debra K says:

    Good on ya, WildEarth Guardians. The Pocatello Supply Depot sounds creepy. I wonder how many WS or related facilities are around folks aren’t aware of? I’ve found a cabin WS uses north of McCall in the French Cr/Bear Pete area.

    I think their primary focus is killing wolves and coyotes in an attempt to protect domestic sheep operations on public lands in the Payette NF. A few years ago, I was going to take my dogs on a hike near this spot, but saw a sign to the effect of “poisonous baits in this area.” Terrified for my dogs’ safety, I hightailed it elsewhere. I also recall that the Payette NF said one of its confirmed bighorn observations was from a bighorn caught in a WS trap around Josephine Lake, in this same area. What a waste and tragedy.

    Time for WS to be defunded and put out of business except in genuine cases of threats to public health and safety (e.g., dealing with rabies-infected wildlife).

  9. Joel,

    It was Basin Butte Pack at Stanley.

  10. avatar gline says:

    no surprise – that is sad. Lynne has not been on here either…

  11. avatar Mike says:

    Thank you Wild Earth Guardians for doing this. It’s about time we stopped these outdated “management” tools.

  12. avatar Salle says:

    The last paragraph in the Idaho Statesman article says:

    “USDA Wildlife Services officials didn’t immediately respond to e-mail and telephone requests for comment. The division, with a budget of about $120 million, reported killing some 4.9 million animals in 2008 in efforts to control predators and invasive species.”

    I wonder which invasive species they are referring to and whether they mean flora or fauna…

    I thought of posting, before reading the article ~ since I have been on this bandwagon for a time ~ something that Wendy did say in an interview for the story:

    It’s time we ended this war on wildlife.

  13. avatar Matt says:

    The residents of Idaho who support wolves need to find
    more support from within their state to vote out the people who are making these decisions for WS. Its to bad there are not more hippies and less good ol boys in Idaho, then maybe there would be less blatant slaughter of wildlife, particularly with the use of poisens and aerial gunning.

  14. avatar Layton says:

    “I wonder which invasive species they are referring to and whether they mean flora or fauna…”

    Does WS get involved with this “mussel” thing that we all have to buy boat stickers for?? I know the hydrologist in the Payette Natl. gets into it, but I don’t know how much.

    Who runs the check stations that stop the boats??

  15. avatar gline says:

    Matt, I was thinking the same thing – Idaho needs a fresh new population -people that value wildlife and nature in a more respectful way… I suppose Sun Valley is close to that in a way.

  16. avatar Layton says:

    “I suppose Sun Valley is close to that in a way.”

    OH —— MY ——– GOD!!

    Sunvalleywood??? You have to be kidding!!

  17. avatar gline says:

    Why dont you tell me layton why you think it is not close in a way- ie how is akin to the nobility rancher of the west, whose families stole land from Indians, drove Indians off and completed their manifest destiny to today? One state of mind might be a bit more respectful of nature “in a way” as I said then the other, who is totally utilitarian.

  18. avatar gline says:

    And keep in mind we were talking of WS, who kills wildlife, but also some much needed research evidently.

  19. avatar Elk275 says:

    gline

    ++nobility rancher of the west, whose families stole land from Indians, drove Indians off and completed their manifest destiny to today++

    I have reached hundreds of thousands of acres for property titles and all land is Patent by the US government. Never have I seen where a rancher stole land from the Indians. What the US government did is different, but ranchers stealing land from Indians did not happen.

  20. avatar gline says:

    WM;
    Read up on what the Nez Perce have to say about that – the “Unsigned Treaty” specifically. that land was given to the ranchers before the Indians were paid.

  21. avatar gline says:

    that would be stealing.

  22. avatar Layton says:

    gline,

    A LOT of the residents of Sunvalleywood are not residents at all. They build $$mega homes – on wntering ground and range land – that they live in for maybe 2 months a year. There’s a real case for conservation!!

    Why is it that you would prefer the moneyed elite over folks that just live and work here in Idaho?? Never mind — I think I know, they can just write a check for the bucks that all the greenie causes want for whatever bug, rodent, or other critter that is being “saved” today. They don’t actually have the slightest idea what the hell is going on, but they can write the check!! They think contributing to wolf causes is “cool”, they don’t have to live with the results or even have any concept of what having a constantly growing wolf population entails. Just get a cool picture of a wolf, no blood – please, and put it on the wall to complete the picture.

    Why do I read here all the time about the people that have moved to Idaho from someplace else and now want to change it to be like the place they just left?? So many folks on this blog live here in the state but cuss the people, the government, the ranchers, the hunters, etc., etc., but continue to live here, how come?? What is the compelling reason to stay here and be so abused??

    Go to Sunvalleywood (hell, maybe you live there), get a room for the night and go out and have a nice dinner. That state you bitch about so much needs the money. Oh, don’t go to another town, it will only cost you a third as much and you won’t be contributing near as many tax $$ to the state you hate so much.

    Sheesh!!

  23. avatar Talks with Bears says:

    Layton – well said.

  24. avatar Wilderness Muse says:

    gline

    I think you got me mixed up with another poster in your reply above.

    By the way, please check the Bitterroot Valley Easement thread and, indeed, you will see what appears to be a MFWP verification that wolves are present in Upper Miller Creek drainage.

  25. avatar catbestland says:

    Layton,

    You said of the moneyed elite, ” they don’t have to live with the results or even have any concept of what having a constantly growing wolf population entails.” What about the results that the rest of the world has to live with(including former residents who lived in harmony with nature until driven off by the ranchers) when wolves were extirpated from the ecosystems that needed them?

    You also said, “Why do I read here all the time about the people that have moved to Idaho from someplace else and now want to change it to be like the place they just left??” Hmm, that sounds an awful lot like what Native Americans said when the ranchers moved in.

    In your world does anyone have any rights other than those who rape the land in order to profit from it at the expense of others??

  26. avatar outsider says:

    Cat, If in your words

    “In your world does anyone have any rights other than those who rape the land in order to profit from it at the expense of others??”

    If these individuals are rapeing the land, wouldn’t that cause it to be non productive? And when it becomes non productive wouldn’t that cause them to go out of buisness and therefor leaving the land to those users who are more in tune with what it takes to make a healthy functioning range?

  27. avatar Layton says:

    Cat,

    I think that the discussion that you are wanting to have here is quite different than the subject of the thread.

    BUT, if you want to talk about Indians I guess we can. Nope, I’m not getting into the “native American” thing, I’m a native American, I was born here, I went to war for this country, I don’t do anything to “rape the land” and I am definitely NOT an apologist for wrongs, real or imagined, that were done 100 or 200 years before my time.

    The “former residents” that you speak of had (for one thing) buffalo jumps where whole herds of animals were driven over cliffs and only what could be carried away was all that was utilized. Not a heck of a lot of “harmony with nature” IMNSHO. That same group now gaffs salmon in streams where they go up to hatcheries, in the name of a treaty of 1855. Of course the words “on the lands and in the manner of their forefathers did” have come to mean snap gaffs and mono-filament gill nets — more “harmony with nature” I suppose. Oh yes, and I don’t think that hatchery was there in 1855, neither were the fish.

    Many of the “former residents” were paid for the land they left, even tho’ there were no deeds or proof of ownership. All that was there was words that said “I lived there. Of course maybe the next guy ALSO said “I lived there”. Who was to prove it? Sure, the price that they were paid was a pittance – compared to modern times – so what?? It was the going rate.

    There were/are abuses, many of them, on both sides. Frankly, it seems to me that there is a lot of court protected “getting even” going on today.

    “What about the results that the rest of the world has to live with(including former residents who lived in harmony with nature until driven off by the ranchers) when wolves were extirpated from the ecosystems that needed them?”

    What results are you referring to here?? Are you talking about the fact that livestock could range on private and public property without being harassed by that particular predator?? Yes Cat, those people that “lived in harmony with nature” had livestock too) Tell me how that is a down side. I haven’t noticed (or heard about) any trophic cascade in Idaho lately.

    Sure, it would be wonderful if we could just go back 200 years to “the way it was”, but I really don’t think that is going to happen in the foreseeable future.

  28. avatar JB says:

    “Why is it that you would prefer the moneyed elite over folks that just live and work here in Idaho??”

    I wonder how many of the people that “live and work here in Idaho” do so at the expense of the “moneyed elite”?

  29. avatar Layton says:

    Guess you could ask the same question about the “landed nobility”. 8)

  30. avatar JB says:

    Guess you could ask the same question about the “landed nobility”.

    Given the subsidies they receive, a more appropriate question would be: how many of the landed nobility “live and work in Idaho” at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer?

  31. avatar catbestland says:

    Layton,

    What results am I referring to? How about the destruction of our watersheds, public lands and wildlife for starters. Then we can move on to the contamination of our clean water sources on public lands from the thousands of pounds of cow and sheep manure dumped into them annually which by the way is a major source of disease for humans and wildlife. And lets not forget about the zillion or so tons of greenhouse gasses dumped into our atmosphere which is adding to the destruction of our forests. And then there are those _*%+& invasive weeds, another calling card compliments of the ranching industry. How about the fact that those of us who would enjoy having intact ecosystems and all the benefits they provide including hiking and wildlife viewing are denied these opportunities because shit spewing cows and their owners get preferential treatment and ruin the experience, as well as the land, for all of us.

  32. avatar gline says:

    And overpopulation of humans… we are a taxing species, but what to do about that?

  33. avatar Layton says:

    Cat,

    “What results am I referring to? How about the destruction of our watersheds, public lands and wildlife for starters. Then we can move on to the contamination of our clean water sources on public lands from the thousands of pounds of cow and sheep manure dumped into them annually which by the way is a major source of disease for humans and wildlife. And lets not forget about the zillion or so tons of greenhouse gasses dumped into our atmosphere which is adding to the destruction of our forests. And then there are those _*%+& invasive weeds, another calling card compliments of the ranching industry. How about the fact that those of us who would enjoy having intact ecosystems and all the benefits they provide including hiking and wildlife viewing are denied these opportunities because shit spewing cows and their owners get preferential treatment and ruin the experience, as well as the land, for all of us.”

    Wow, all this because the wolves were severly depleted??

    Did it also cause swine flu and spread the common cold??

  34. avatar Layton says:

    Hit the “submit” button to quick.

    I like this part.

    “And then there are those _*%+& invasive weeds, another calling card compliments of the ranching industry”

    Most of the invasive weeds that we fight today come from Asia (Knap weed, Rush Skeleton weed, Dalmation and Toad Flax)– did they somehow come over with cows?? I think not. As a matter of fact a significant number of them came as seeds for “decorative” plants. Yes, they do get spread by cows. They also get spread by deer, elk, and any other critter that has hair on it. That would include wolves.

  35. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Well Layton you are right the cows did not bring the seeds over, but there isn’t any animal that is lingers in one spot, eating the native grasses and grinding in weed seeds like cattle do.

    Compare cattle grazed and ungrazed areas side by side. You will see the cattle side is more weedy.

  36. avatar gline says:

    cows and sheep spread the invasives around.

  37. avatar gline says:

    layton:
    I think the point is, and originally as I was making (as I remember) is that we white folks do a lot more damage than native Americans ever did..not that they (NA) would have the technical know how 300 years ago to complete such environmental damage (pesticides, green house gasses), but I dont think they would prefer not to do such damage. Back then their culture (before brainwashed into Christianity) was that Earth was their Mother. Chief Seattle’s speech painfully states this. His speech is heartwrenching…

  38. avatar Ryan says:

    Gline,

    Have you ever been to a reservation and seen the “conservation and habitat protection”. Locally they look like tree farms with trailer parks and big casinos. Loacally their land stweardship is atrocious, as well as their complete disregard for the ESA. Sorry not buying it for a second, they are just like any other tribe or nation that is all about profit, nothing more nothing less.

  39. avatar JimT says:

    Ryan,

    The whole history of the Native Americans in this country and their treatment at the hands of the country’s various governments is a shameful tragedy, plain and simple. The criticisms you have are based in lack of economic opportunities for the most part, not because they are Native Americans. Some tribes got rich from gambling, but most are not; most are struggling on lands they were sent to because they were not wanted by any of the white folks. And when minerals were discovered, they got kicked off again. Read some histories; read about the BIA, and perhaps you will begin to see their side. I am not absolving them of all responsibilities and decisions; just looking to establish some context. I have said before on this list that I don’t favor the tribal tradition of killing whales or other ESA species; I think species survival trumps customs.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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