Killing Thousands of Animals Each Year Violates Environmental Laws

BOISE, Idaho— Five conservation groups filed a lawsuit today over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s failure to fully analyze and disclose the impact of its “Wildlife Services” program in Idaho, which kills thousands of wolves, coyotes, foxes, cougars, birds and other wild animals each year at taxpayer expense. The multimillion-dollar federal program, whose work primarily benefits the agriculture industry, relies on an array of lethal methods including aerial and ground shooting, poison, trapping and explosives.

Following a notice of intent to sue sent by the conservation groups in September 2014, the agency agreed to prepare a new environmental analysis for its wildlife-killing activities in Idaho — an incremental step that falls short of the more comprehensive analysis required by law. Today’s lawsuit seeks long-term changes in the agency’s operations to adopt nonlethal methods, as well as the development of an environmental impact statement to analyze the impacts of killing wildlife across the state year after year.

“Wildlife Services spends millions of dollars each year to indiscriminately shoot, poison and trap coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, foxes, badgers and many other wildlife species — yet it refuses to comply with our nation’s basic environmental laws,” said Laird J. Lucas, director of litigation at Advocates for the West. “This lawsuit will shine a bright line on this rogue agency and force it to reveal publicly exactly what wildlife killing programs it is engaged in and the adverse impacts of those activities.”

“A transparent and public analysis of Wildlife Services’ activities is long overdue,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project, adding that “Wildlife Services’ wanton killing of Idaho’s wildlife is morally wrong, environmentally counterproductive, and procedurally illegal.”

The agency has never comprehensively examined how its actions affect grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout, all protected under the Endangered Species Act. The agency sets traps and snares across the state that accidentally capture and kill federally protected wildlife, as well as domestic pets. Bull trout are killed when the agency detonates explosives to remove beaver dams.

“Without a comprehensive analysis of Wildlife Service’s wildlife-killing activities across the state, it’s impossible to know whether it’s leading to widespread damage to other species like grizzly bears,” said Andrea Santarsiere, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The public deserves more, and so does Idaho’s wildlife.”

“Shrouded in secrecy, Wildlife Services operates as though it is above the law, further endangering already imperiled species and wasting our taxpayer dollars,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “A full accounting and scientific analysis of Wildlife Services’ cruel practices is long overdue.”

The state of knowledge about the impacts of wildlife killing has changed significantly over the years. “Current science doesn’t support the arbitrary killing of animals as a ‘management’ tool,” added Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “For example, killing wolves and coyotes indiscriminately can exacerbate livestock conflicts and is simply a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“The long reach of this killing program kills key predators like wolves even in remote wildlands like the backcountry of the Clearwater Basin,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater. “It is past time the agency is held accountable to we the people.”

In 2013 Wildlife Services killed more than 3,000 mammals in Idaho using methods such as aerial gunning, neck snares, foothold traps, and toxic devices known as M-44s that spray sodium cyanide into the victim’s mouth, causing tremendous suffering and releasing toxic chemicals into the environment.

Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater and Project Coyote are represented by attorneys Laurie Rule and Talasi Brooks of Advocates for the West, and Kristin Ruether of Western Watersheds Project.

A copy of today’s filing can be read online here.

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90 Responses to Lawsuit Challenges Government’s Large-scale Wildlife Killing in Idaho

  1. avatar Larry K says:

    This action is monumental, overdue and steered by extremely competent, intelligent and comprehensive attorneys and directors of right focused organizations.

    That said, I fear this is no field goal from the 10 yard line considering the political traps and snares awaiting to entangle environmental laws. Whether it be from ignorant, gullible or outright favoritism and greed, republican law makers will pull out all stops to protect their sacred cow. In view of the current political pending storm I am confident this aspect has been very deeply considered. I completely trust and support and will donate to this action but the first thing I thought of after reading this is the proverbial sleeping dog. (Republicans being the majority law makers and thus the dog) Forward,. . . charge!

    • avatar MJ says:

      These actions are essential, if this one doesn’t make it then the next one needs to keep up the pressure, until the message is heard. This IS an issue of the rights of all others not counted while trapping is passed as a “Constitutional” right in Montana.

      Our rights, the rights of our children, the rights of our animals, and all parts of the environment are without a voice under the current system.

  2. avatar Pamela W says:

    I am thrilled and hopeful! It shouldn’t require a lawsuit for public agencies to be held accountable and responsive to constituents, but if that’s what it takes I am all for it.

  3. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    I hope that litigants will move for injunctive relief – i.e. to curtail the carnage in the mean-time, as WS is forced to hone its paperwork trail.

  4. avatar Louise Kane says:

    Why is the lawsuit restricted to Idaho and its wildlife?

  5. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    With all of the grandstanding in Congress about wasteful government spending, why does Wildlife Services still exist? I think we all know the answer to that.

  6. avatar Gail says:

    Very pleased to know that the almighty Wildlife Services is being taken to task. It was the creation of an agency that should never have happened.

  7. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Good! This agency, or at least this branch of it, has absolutely no more relevance for the modern world, if it ever did.

  8. avatar Yvette says:

    Regardless of the outcome I hope this lawsuit succeeds in exposing even more Americans to the operational practices WS. I hope this case gets a lot of media exposure and national attention.

  9. avatar Ed-L says:

    Geez… I hope WM doesn’t read this news or we will be in for one of his tirades about how “the radical conservation groups have once again thrown gasoline on the fire by suing a governmental agency for not following federal laws”. According to WM these groups should just back away timidly and let the agencies manage wildlife like the states want.

    • avatar Elk375 says:

      Ed

      “According to WM these groups should just back away timidly and let the agencies manage wildlife like the states want.”

      The states own the wildlife and have managed wildlife for over one hundred years and have done generally good job. That is the big bitch on this forum, there are those who want the federal government to manage the nations wildlife.

      • avatar Joanne Favazza says:

        According to the Public Trust Doctrine, wildlife is owned by everyone–not just the states. In truth, not one of us can lay claim to wild animals. They exist for their own sake–not ours. It’s this culture’s misguided and arrogant sense of ownership (and entitlement) that has led to the destruction of wildlife and wild places.

        • avatar Elk375 says:

          What ever the Public Trust Doctrine says, the reality is that the states have managed wildlife and have been considered the owners since MA instituted the first hunting deer hunting season in 1630 around Boston. I would tend to believe that the states have acquired a prescriptive rights after several hundred years.

          If the that right would seriously be challenged then congress would codify that right. All states wanted to manage the residential wildlife.

          • And the minority who are culturally and ego-identified with killing as their RIGHT want to control every inch of our public lands and every non-human life for their abuse. WANT WANT WANT. MORE MORE MORE. Enough already.

            We are organizing for our rights to defend our wildlife – as the majority of humans who do not kill anybody become sick of watching packs of dogs beset coyotes, bobcats, wolves and men killing every creature in sight and grinning over their carcasses as if it were a proud thing to be a serial murderer. We are sick of your violence to the innocent who cannot protect themselves from your high tech weapons and lounging tree stands and mortorized vehicles and constant assault.

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            aren’t we supposed to evolve? MA also burned witches and still persecute carnivores. Just cause the states have always done it doesn’t mean its working. abundant deer does not constitute biodiversity and healthy habitats.

          • avatar Lloyd Dorsey says:

            It might be a benefit to read the complaint. A link is at the end of the press release above.
            “Wildlife Law- A Primer” by Freyfogle and Goble may be useful, too.

          • avatar Yvette says:

            “the reality is that the states have managed wildlife and have been considered the owners (emphasis mine) since MA instituted the first hunting deer hunting season in 1630 around Boston.”

            No. That is a slanted view of history and I believe the statement is incorrect. The wildlife was not owned in 1630. The colonizers didn’t even ‘own’ the continent at that point in time.

            Do you have a source about establishing a season? I’m not refuting you. There may well have been a season in Boston, but I am skeptical because it doesn’t gel with the practices that led to the collapse of the deer population from the international deerskin trade that came at a later period.

            It was not until the 1700’s that a major international market for deerskin began, and it was decades before the revolution….so still, this was not even a nation at that point in time. Since there was no America, there were no states, thus, no state management or ‘ownership’ of wildlife. In 1630 the colonies were still under the monarchy of England.

            In the first decade of the 1700’s a plague that affected European cattle began, which devastated those populations. Out of that, the international deerskin trade began.

            That international trade led to the collapse of white-tailed deer.
            “Charles-town records show exports of 5,239,350 pounds of deerskins and between 1755 and 1772, 2.5 million pounds of deerskins were shipped from Savannah.” http://www.tartansauthority.com/global-scots/us-scots-history/the-native-indians/deerskin-trade/

            And lest WM chime in about the ‘evil europeans’, Indigenous people from the South up through the Appalachia’s were participants in this market of deerskins. That was integral in how the European traders got their large supply of deer for the international market.

          • avatar Joanne Favazza says:

            The states have proven to be entirely incapable of “managing” wildlife. State wildlife agencies pander to special interests, with the main goal being to create ungulate farms rather than a diverse and thriving ecosystem. I used to work for the Department of Resources in my state–I know how these agencies operate, and their policies have nothing to do with conservation and everything to do with placating a vocal minority of special interests.

            • avatar Mark L says:

              On this note, the overwhelming majority of deer in the midsouth (Ms, Al, Ga) are imports….from ‘up north’ after we hunted them out (with VERY few left, kind of like red wolves!). Haven’t heard many here in the south complain about them being ‘invasive’ or ‘foreign’, like they complain about the wolves out west, but it’s almost exactly the same scenario.

        • Read the works of John A. Livingston ( 1923-2006). He wrote THE FALLACY OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION and ONE COSMIC INSTANT: A NATURAL HISTORY OF HUMAN ARROGANCE.

          All other beings on earth want to live and play out their innocent lives naturally. They are not commodities for killing fun. All was not put here by some human-created in our image of violence “God” for the use and abuse of humans. We are not better than or even equal to other beings. They are not hoarding billions of other beings for slaughter or experimenting on them in labs or killing them by the millions for fun. They are not emptying the oceans of life and acidifying them with climate change and making the world uninhabitable for all life. Humans are.

          So get humble and stop killing. They want to live as much as you do.

          • avatar Joanne Favazza says:

            Agreed, Patricia. This culture is so greedy, arrogant, and self-centered, it cannot even recognize that other living beings matter. Wildlife exists for its own sake–not solely for us to use and exploit as we see fit. As long as this misguided mindset continues, wildlife and wild places will suffer.

      • If the states were democratic and managed for the 94% of us who are wildlife watchers and buy 94% of the public lands killers rape out – we would be fine with state management. But since state wildlife management is funded exclusively on killing licenses and pander to their only constituency for utilitarian abuse, torture and killing of sacred life to facilitate the jollies of the demented and sick people who enjoy trophy killing – there is a legitimate bitch. We need to replace killing licenses with the general public funds the majority bring 10-40 times the killing license funding and have fair ( or ANY ) representation on natural RESOURCE boards to turn them into peace and justice for the other 99.999999% of species on earth being abused, exploited and murdered by the minority good ole boy system.
        Wildlife agencies do a miserable job of stewarding wildlife for preservation and conservation has become this maximum killing for maximum licenses and fees to recruit more killing when wildlife populations across the entire world have plummeted 52% in just the blink of an eye – 40 years. We cannot continue to let you bludgeon our wildlife to death and do nothing.

    • avatar WM says:

      Ed,

      I don’t know that I said that, especially without certain qualifications. And, given some of your sloppy past failed attempts here, paraphrasing someone is not one of your strong points.

      This suit does raise some interesting issues about NEPA process, and maybe ESA protected species that might be affected by WS provided technical services.

      A threshold question might be whether such NEPA process as is now being asked of WS in Idaho, is also required of each and every other WS office in the other 49 states, District of Columbia and US Territories. Do they do blanket NEPA EA/EIS’s for their work plans or specific actions? Geez, how many coyotes do you suppose they thump in CA each and every year? If the answer is yes they do periodic EA’s/EIS’s, then maybe ID WS has some explaining to do for violating the law. If the answer is no, well maybe that raises some other issues.

      Now, another aspect is if they comply with the “process” maybe it doesn’t in the end really change what they do, how they do it, or for whom they do it. Ever think of that?

      Elk makes a good point. That is that the wildlife which WS is called upon to remove or harass is usually done at the request of someone else, a local cooperator like a county/city or the state, and those entities may even pay for all/most/some/none of it. And those wildlife (unless protected by federal law are not the federal government’s responsibility, but the state of ID’s) So, how is this a “federal action” which comes under NEPA? If it is done for another federal agency, maybe they have the obligation to do the NEPA process, afterall it is “their” federal action? Is it because federal employees are involved, even though they may be paid for services they provide in part or in full by someone else and the request is made by that party?

      Maybe this is good opportunity for such an airing. But, Ed, that’s OK, you and some of the myopic and very linear thinkers here wouldn’t be expected to understand any of that.

  10. avatar Ed-L says:

    WM:
    Here is some linear thinking for you, that explains in the simplest terms why our best activist conservation organizations are busier than ever in the courtroom. Both state and federal agencies and their employees are obligated to not violate federal laws. Also, when there is a conflict between state and federal law, it is the federal law that rules. Unfortunately, in the case of the federal agency called Wildlife Services and some state wildlife agencies, they are openly violating one or more federal environmental laws and thus, the wildlife advocates are taking their grievances to court to have our federal laws enforced. I am thankful for HSUS, Center For Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Project Coyote, Friends of the Clearwater, etc. for not only going to court in defense of wildlife, but these groups also help to get powerful wildlife/environmental laws written and enacted into law in the first place.

  11. avatar WiZaRd Of The Wolf Nation says:

    I think it’s time for the USFWS to
    be dissolved and its officials prosecuted
    to the fullest extent of the law for their
    crimes against Nature and treason against the
    American people and the nation!

  12. avatar Cathy says:

    When the states take control of their lands these lawsuits won’t be possible. With the federal govt in charge, there will be endless lawsuits with the NGO suing us with our tax dollars and they are getting rich doing so. Put the land back in the hands of the state and put a stop to all of this nonsense and waste of money. Some of these monies could be used to build back our elk herds and some of the other decimated species.

    • avatar Ed Loosli says:

      Cathy:
      I am not sure if you are really being serious or not, but just in case you are, please know that if the states get control over our federal PUBLIC lands, they will be sold off to the highest bidder and all you and I will see from the outside are locked gates and NO TRESSPASSING signs – and there will be no elk herd to build up.

    • avatar Larry K says:

      Decimated species like, wolves, grizzlies, wolverines, lynx ahh, and don’t forget bringing back the pika and sage grouse from the brink. If states followed the law there would not be a court challenge would there.

      • avatar Elk375 says:

        Larry K

        Exactly how are you going to bring back pika or are pika endangered. I have been in pika country ever summer and some days there are pika and other days I do not see any.

        • avatar Larry K says:

          Elk,
          Why would you challenge that generalized statement? It’s not meant to be an action specific statement. I just happen to have concern and empathy for all things native. The days I have been in the high country and did see a pika were days that they gave me a little more spring in my step. I know that they are a species that will find life more difficult as the climate warms. But no, I don’t have control of a valve that will turn off warming. Please just let me acknowledge their existence knowing their life is precious. Let’s move on to the task at hand, eliminating WS. Maybe Paul the Pika can be our mascot, he’s a pretty determined survivalist against great odds.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      “with the NGO suing us with our tax dollars and they are getting rich doing so.”

      you do know that many NGOs are tex exempt non profits and thats about all they get by way of “tax dollars”. All non profits receive benefits via tax benefits but their money comes in from donor/individuals. No tax money goes to NGOs. and they don’t sue us… please become more informed before you start advocating to “put the land back in the states”. yikes i’m grouchy tonight and sick of seeing the “states” behave poorly.

  13. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Killing for the fun of it; disgusting.

  14. avatar Brett Haverstick says:

    Hats off to people like Brooks Fahy and Predator Defense for working on exposing USDA Wildlife Services the past few decades.

  15. avatar Scott McMorrow says:

    I appreciate that there are people and organizations that advocate for wildlife. One of the pieces of information that seems to be missing from this conversation is that of food production. Though I don’t support wide scale, wanton killing of wildlife, I do feel that to a large degree, many people in this country are in “food denial.”

    I eat meat and cheese, drink milk, and wear wool. These animal based products come to me via a distribution system that originates on a farm or ranch. How are we to reconcile issues between predators and livestock?

    Where I live in Northern California, non-lethal methods of livestock protection are not fully effective. This should come as no surprise to anyone who understands the intelligence and nature of animals such as the coyote. These animals always find a work-around when it comes to feeding themselves.

    The loss of a ewe cost a rancher about $1000. A baby calf that can’t grow to adulthood can cost thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

    The ranchers I know run small scale, sustainable operations, and are by no means cash rich. These losses make razor thin margins even more precarious and put their livelihoods at risk.

    If we are to have a truly open conversation about predator management, then I feel we need to acknowledge the meat section in our supermarkets. We need to recognize that that piece of steak, that fish fillet, and that roaster chicken didn’t simply arrive on our plates.

    • avatar timz says:

      “We need to recognize that that piece of steak, that fish fillet, and that roaster chicken didn’t simply arrive on our plates.”

      Really? Gee,thanks Mr. Obvious.

      • avatar timz says:

        According to the USDA:
        Cattle losses to predators < 1%
        Sheep about 4%, many of these to domestic dogs.

        Your conversation may be a short one.

    • avatar Rich says:

      Scott,

      Nice try trying to convince us that we cannot survive without store bought beef, milk and cheese laced with hormones, antibiotics and steroids. There are a growing number of families like ours where healthy organic food is either raised on our farm, bought from neighboring farms or fresh caught from local streams. City folks may supplicate themselves at the feet of the cattlemen and the supermarket. However there are many Americans who are largely self dependent and live healthy and productive lives without the aid of the cattle or dairy industry. We are also very aware of the importance of stewardship in caring for both our land and the wildlife that grace our farm. Losing a farm animal or crop from disease, weather, predators or other factors will happen to even the best of farmers. Learning to control those risks without destroying all the native plants and wildlife or sanitizing the soil of all the essential organisms, is what separates the real farmers from the chaff. Try learning something about farming and stewardship and break free from the grip of cattlemen, mega-dairies and the supermarket and you will live a much better life. The last thing I want to do is “acknowledge the meat section in our supermarkets” or ingest the (dis)colored. chemically treated beef, pink slime or sausage made from who knows what. If you haven’t participated in the growing of foods organically then you may well be suffering from “food denial” yourself.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        +1 Rich

        Posted this link before but will post it again for those who want to look into supporting small farms & ranches in their area:

        http://www.localharvest.org/

        Found a local ranch that organically raises a heritage breed of sheep known for its lean meat. The meat is fabulous! My dogs enjoy it in their homemade meals 🙂

      • avatar Scott McMorrow says:

        Hi Rich,

        Thanks for the response. I agree with many of the concerns you bring up. I feel we humans have poisoned our food supply to the extent that I fear it won’t recover. Our family raises chickens with organic feed, and grows pesticide-free veggies. For meat, we eat mostly what I can harvest, and occasionally supplement with store bought. Always hormone and anti-biotic free.

        This article is about some groups asking for an EIR for how the State of Idaho handles predator management. That’s fine. The State should be required to do so.

        My concern is that some of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit are adamantly opposed to any take of apex predators. And I ask the question, is this a reasonable position?

        Where I live, I am surrounded by small family ranches that have been in operation for at least a hundred years. These multi-generational stewards of the land are finding it increasingly difficult to stay in the black. The running (not so funny) joke is “Oh, you’re a rancher. Where does your wife work?” Each of these organic dairy operations (cows and sheep) has one or more family members working off ranch in order to earn money.

        So yes, the loss of a few ewes or calves has a dramatic impact on their bottom line. The county I live in forbids by law the killing of coyotes on these ranches. And the reality is fences and dogs are not that effective.

        As for my food denial comment, it obviously wasn’t directed at someone living as you do. I am fortunate enough to live in a region that actively supports sustainable, local, small-scale organic food supplies. Most of the population in the US doesn’t not have this benefit.

        I like wolves. I like coyotes. We should not kill them all. But, there is a movement in this country to put an end to the killing of any and all apex predators. Some of the plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit are driving this movement. All I ask is that people truly reflect on their own diets and lifestyles before jumping on the bandwagon. If after this reflection, someone feels that all take should be outlawed, fine. Each and every one of us has that right.

        In closing, I’d like a to add that I appreciate your response. We may not agree, yet civil discourse is one of the cornerstones of this Country.

        • avatar Jay says:

          “Where I live, I am surrounded by small family ranches that have been in operation for at least a hundred years. These multi-generational stewards of the land are finding it increasingly difficult to stay in the black. The running (not so funny) joke is “Oh, you’re a rancher. Where does your wife work?” Each of these organic dairy operations (cows and sheep) has one or more family members working off ranch in order to earn money.”

          Do you think this is unique to agriculture? The middle class is being killed, primarily by republican-led policies to enrich the richest. The only way to remain middle class these days is to have two income earners per household.

      • avatar WM says:

        Rich,

        I admire your optimism about healthy organic food consumption as well as the “locivore” concept of getting your good healthy food near its source. But the hard facts are most of America (larger numbers of us are living in the big cities and not in rural areas in general) will not have this option. That means beef, pigs, chickens and turkeys, as well as dairy will come from ever larger agricultural conglomerate operations. It is a harsh fact of economics.

        While some few of us may have the luxury of choice of lifestyle, most folks do not. The jobs are in the cities.

        With all due respect, yours is a very narrow view which is not reflective reality now and in the future. Get used to mega-food production; it will only get worse.

        And, maybe non-lethal v coyotes works to some degree, short term. Scott M. seems to think not so well. But do remember that additional guard animals like llamas are an additional capital outlay for the farmer/rancher, they may require vet bills and additional feed. Sometimes non-lethal requires additional fencing, also a capital outlay. Then there are the additional labor costs, associated with some non-lethal.

        Would a farmer/rancher get one llama? Probably not. Expect to pay $800-1,000 each, and they are probably not worth a shit against a pack of 5 wolves. So, expect to have replacement costs in wolf country.

        • avatar JB says:

          WM:

          Not sure what the relevance is of this statement: “But do remember that additional guard animals like llamas are an additional capital outlay for the farmer/rancher, they may require vet bills and additional feed.”

          The same could be said for farmers who wish to protect their crops from deer, or citizens who wish to protect their ornament plants from the same species. A case in point–my in-laws bought a motion-activated sprinkler system to keep local deer of their ornamental plants. No subsidization. No USDA help. Why should predators be any different?

          • avatar Larry K says:

            The only difference is that the in-laws don’t own the legislative process. Otherwise they would compensated or protected from the predatory deer by armed agricultural agents.

          • avatar JB says:

            I just don’t buy the argument that the agricultural industry deserves to be compensated for anything that impacts them. Yes, society has an interest in producing inexpensive food; but society also has an interest in preserving native wildlife–a public resource. When the two are at odds, the burden of proof should fall on the farmer/producer to show that they have a a serious problem that cannot otherwise be overcome.

            I was re-reading Freyfogle and Goble’s 2009 book on wildlife law this past week, and came across the chapter that talks about wildlife on private lands. Two general rules that have emerged are relevant here: (1) landowners are not entitled to seek compensation for damages from wildlife unless expressly authorized by the legislature; and (2) “The common practice [of courts]….has been to require defendants to show diligence in using all other methods to protect the property, including working with state officials.”

            These same rules should apply with agriculture. Landowners–including livestock producers– should have to take all reasonable actions to avoid losses before killing animals that belong to us all. That includes, of course, things like livestock guarding dogs.

            • avatar Jay says:

              I suppose business owners should be complaining about having to purchase doors with locks, and security cameras, since they’re entitled to theft-free merchandise. After all, it’s just not fair that they have to protect their goods from those that might steal them, and it’s the taxpayer’s burden to cover the cost.

              • avatar Ed Loosli says:

                Jay:
                Exactly. It is the store owner and the livestock owner who take responsibility to protect their property from Mother Nature and outside intruders by installing fences, security guards and the like – even llamas and protective guard dogs to fend off coyotes.

              • avatar JB says:

                Jay:

                This is what bugs me about “I’m afraid to let my kids play outside” argument. I want to yell back, “Me too! But neither of us is entitled to a risk-free environment.” I accept certain increased risks living in an urban area, and you accept (or should anway) other risks from living in a rural area.

            • avatar Louise kane says:

              Excellent summary and yes due diligence is a strong legal concept that should not be overlooked if farmers don’t want to use due diligence to protect their stock society should not be required to bear the cost nor should they have the right to destroy public wildlufe resources
              Another interesting legal concept to ponder is the legal defense to negligence called assumption of the risk it basically means that if you voluntary assume a risk you can’t claim that others negligence caused you harm. while cattle and livestock losses are not paid out under negligence law we should apply similar principles why should the public pay when the business assumes a risk in how they operate and worse yet operate the business negligently and still expect to be paid?

          • avatar WM says:

            “[R]elevance of this statement:”

            It could not be more relevant. Producer profit is based on cost of goods sold. Additional capital expenditures and operation/maintenance and labor not incurred in production (or previously subsidized by government), all add to costs, and therefore reduce profit.

            Why would producers passively stand by if WS technical help is withdrawn or reduced? And do remember, WS provides services to cities and counties, as well as other federal agencies like port authorities. Some of their functions, are to benefit public health. Afterall nearly 200,000 starlings and other bird pests comprised a considerable effort of ID Wildlife Services in FY 2013, according to Ken’s link above. The law suit complaint certainly doesn’t highlight that aspect, though.

            A lot of these non-lethal methods, we hear about, apparently don’t work over the long term. So, if 100 producers have to spend say an average additional cost of 2,000-10,000 (for larger producers) per year in an area where coyotes or other predators incrementally affect cost of goods sold, it strikes me there is a compelling case to look at the economics of it all. Let’s just say an additional $3,000 x 100 producers, that is $300,000.

            And, as an aside, of course the ornamental garden sprinkler defense is not a for profit venture, now, is it? Just a cost of living where deer are. Seems to WS doesn’t even deal with deer removal anywhere that I am aware of. However, they may in conjunction with others provide technical advice or funding. Here is an interesting teaching aid for Pennsylvania:

            http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/states/pennsylvania/downloads/teacher_guide_oh_deer_a_deer.pdf

            Oh, those evil people at APHIS/WS.

            • avatar JB says:

              “It could not be more relevant. Producer profit is based on cost of goods sold.”

              That’s why its relevant to INDIVIDUAL LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS– the question is why should society continue to subsidize these individuals?

              “A lot of these non-lethal methods, we hear about, apparently don’t work over the long term.”

              And how are the lethal one’s working out…? We’ve been at this with wildlife services for how long, and there are more coyotes now than ever. Moreover, it seems the same places tend to be hit over and over. Why are we subsidizing efforts that take from the public with apparently little or no benefit to society? Why not try something different.

              You keep making economic arguments that amount to a defense of the status quo– i.e., government subsidies for the taking of public resources to benefit individuals. But government should not work to advantage individuals at the cost of society (unless we’re willing to accept a corrupt and unethical government).

              “And, as an aside, of course the ornamental garden sprinkler defense is not a for profit venture, now, is it?”

              So I’m curious, WM…is it your position that government should only work for “for profit ventures”?

              Good grief.

            • avatar Ed Loosli says:

              WM:
              Beautiful deer photos in this linked article (co-written by Wildlife Services). I notice in their Actions list, the very first item regarding “excess” deer is to hunt them – and only the 10th and last item mention non-lethal methods. The obvious glaring error in their presentation is any lack of discussion on restoring predators to the region – like coyotes. Nothing mentioned about the benefits of predators to a healthy and balanced ecosystem. This doesn’t surprise me, as Wildlife Services sees their job as eliminating predators not restoring them.

        • avatar Nancy says:

          “Get used to mega-food production; it will only get worse”

          Ah, but will it as America is quietly being sold off in chunks:

          http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/06/27/231752/chinas-hungry-cattle-feasting.html

          • avatar WM says:

            Nancy,

            From the article, Smithfield foods (big pork/ham producers in VA), sold to the Chinese. Yep mega-food production. So, now the Christmas ham comes to you via a Chinese business. Bet the folks in the South haven’t a clue.

            I don’t know if you have driven I-90 from Ellensburg to Seattle. Ellensburg, or the upper part of the Yakima Valley has lots of hay/alfalfa fields. Along a stretch of road just west of Ellensburg is a large hay/alfalfa storage area, with huge tarped stacks that just popped up in the last 5 years or so. You can see these on Google Earth. Don’t know who owns it, but I was told all the alfalfa hay was going to China. At least we may be exporting something, to offset the huge balance of trade that weighs in China’s favor.

            By the way, auto dealers are consolidating too. The local car dealerships in small communities are gone. Now it is big multi-state dealerships. Big Corporate America has infiltrated everywhere.

            • avatar bret says:

              WM,

              Anderson Hay is the owner. Timothy grass hay and alfalfa, most all of it is exported to Asian markets.

            • avatar Rich says:

              WM,

              I don’t expect to revolutionize the world. However even the most casual observer watching herds of hippos migrating into Walmart and back out with bags filled with processed foods containing high levels of saturated fats, sugar and salt, would conclude that it can’t go on that way. Hippos in the wild are largely vegetarian but in America they are more likely the products of the “Where’s the Beef/Supersize Me” industry. Clearly humans do not need bacon and sausage for breakfast, a cheeseburger, frys and shake for lunch and a steak for dinner. Its all about marketing. As the obesity epidemic continues to overtake our country and hospitals, I do believe there will be a tipping point when beef and pink slime will be off the menu on a daily basis. The organic food industry is gaining some ground but the headwinds from the chemical and mega-farm industry are significant. Call me a dreamer, but accepting the status quo has never been a winning strategy for solving problems. Only through education and enlightenment can we change the world but if we aren’t successful the finite resources of our planet will surely change us, perhaps sooner rather than later.

              • avatar WM says:

                I am more of a realist, and yes big business is bad – fast food, Con-Agra, Montsanto and the food-industrial complex, including McD and its clones. Guess where these guys are mostly corporate HQ located – the Midwest. You and JB think Congress will cut back on WS budget or eliminate it. Dream on.

                Speaking of obesity and education in the same paragraph, I just read this as I ate breakfast (no meat by the way -just 2 scrambled eggs/toast/blueberry-apple smoothie):

                http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2025702384_obesitystudyxml.html

              • avatar Ida Lupine says:

                I agree with you. Where I live, I love to walk by the organic farms and seeing animals living the way they should – horses, cattle, sheep and goats in the sun and fresh air, eating grass, with the ocean and salt air in the background. Chickens, turkeys and pigs freely foraging and eating invasive plants. I know that purists would say the all end up going to slaughter, but in between there’s a huge difference in how they are treated.

                I know that people think poverty is a leading factor in environmental neglect, but prosperity might be even worse. More meat, more of everything, ability to afford luxury goods and furs. Nobody needs to eat meat and dairy every day, several times a day.

                • avatar Nancy says:

                  “I agree with you. Where I live, I love to walk by the organic farms and seeing animals living the way they should – horses, cattle, sheep and goats in the sun and fresh air, eating grass, with the ocean and salt air in the background”

                  But Ida, many of the issues on this site aren’t about livestock “happily” grazing on a few acres of land, filled with green grass and sunshine.

                  After being harassed up roads by horseman, 4 wheelers etc. where they spoil public lands for the summer months, the cattle in my area are harassed back the same way, to maybe a month or two of grazing on land that was hayed. Then that hay is feed back to them when the snow gets too deep for them to forage.

                  Cattle here are sectioned off in areas depending on whether they are bulls, yearlings, maidens, cows (easier to sort and move, when it matters)

                  Because of the mild weather here for weeks, I would imagine it will bring on another whole host of problems – foot rot being one of them when you have cattle standing around in wet pastures.

                  Come spring though, the cows are confined to smaller areas, (easier to move around come calving time)

                  Old cows and fist time heifers, giving birth. Cows have problems and sometimes don’t birth well and you can have a dead calf or a dead cow and calf due to complications.

                  That’s when “dead piles” come into play and many ranchers still just drag the bodies off a few yards and don’t think about the complications of predators investigating those piles or newborns.

                  If I were a rancher in the west, I’d be taking advantage of the price of cattle going to market these days and make some much needed improvements to the “old” falling down fence lines (prevalent on the west) instead of expecting taxpayers to continue to foot the bill when it comes to the likes of WS.

                  Raising livestock is a business (lots of profits these days vs losses etc.) and should be treated like any business, or cut losses and get the hell out of it.

                • avatar Ida Lupine says:

                  Nancy, duh.

                  I was strictly talking about a limited situation. That ‘small-scale’ farms can be easier on the environment, even beneficial – certainly a lot more than a development or ski resort.

                  I realize that nothing is perfect, just maybe better alternatives exist. That scene you scoff at really does exist. I have visited them personally. WM’s scenario doesn’t have to be.

                  If people are going to eat meat, eating less of it and taking interest in how they are raised is something we should do. There’s nothing more disgusting to me than seeing an overweight slob stuffing a fast-food burger down their throat in a drive-thru line – seemingly insensible to the fact that animals suffered unmercifully so that he could shove that burger down.

                • avatar Nancy says:

                  Duh, Ida. I have no idea via your posting, minutes later, that YOU aren’t some:

                  “There’s nothing more disgusting to me than seeing an overweight slob stuffing a fast-food burger down their throat in a drive-thru line – seemingly insensible to the fact that animals suffered unmercifully so that he could shove that burger down”

                  individual, making sorry excuses for their lack of control when it comes to comsuming fast, processed food yet right there on the denial “bandwagon” 🙂

                  Get my point?

                • avatar Ida Lupine says:

                  No, I don’t get your point. And I’m going to ask you again to not respond to my posts if you don’t like them, because I don’t want to argue. We don’t see eye to eye. So please do not respond to my posts. Harass somebody else. There are certainly many others to choose from.

  16. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Why not just “lobby” deFazio and a couple others to attach a rider to must pass legislation.

  17. avatar Yvette says:

    This morning I’ve reread the three part series in the Sacramento Bee, and I watched the ‘Exposed’ documentary again. One of the most disturbing reflections in the ‘Exposed’ documentary came from Rex Shaddox when he recounted the day at the Ulvaldi, TX dump. His supervisor, supplied with a truck load of domestic dogs from the Uvaldi, TX animal control commenced with placing the sodium cyanide device into the mouth of the dog, thus poisoning the dog in a most egregious and heinous method. He then administered the amyl nitrate antidote so the dog could recover only to place yet another sodium cyanide device into the dog’s mouth. He then kicked the dog over a a ledge into the dump leaving it to suffer and die.

    Sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

    The above description of the day at the Uvaldi, TX dump fits that of a sociopath. Sociopathic actions should face severe legal consequences, but in the case(s) of USDA’s Wildlife Services they do not. Most of us draw a line of what we will accept as normal. We draw a line at behavior or actions and we refuse to cross that line. Rex Shaddox would not cross the line of his conscience that day at the dump.

    To defend Wildlife Services even if only for sake of an argument is to agree with them. To agree with them is little different than participating in their evil, amoral and sociopathic actions.

  18. avatar WM says:

    See, now here is the thing with the WS program, it is nation-wide. They do this in nearly every state – protect livestock from predators, nearly a top priority in each and every state in the West and Midwest. Look at these state reports for California and Ohio.

    California, especially uses a lot of co-op money from counties and from the state. Check the bar charts on the left margin for how much money is spent and who pays it:

    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/informational_notebooks/2012/WS%20State%20Operations/5-california_report.pdf

    Ohio has a rabies problem, so that means more federal dollars; still 1/3 of the entire Ohio WS budget is from state/counties/cities

    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/informational_notebooks/2012/WS%20State%20Operations/36-ohio_report.pdf

  19. avatar Ed Loosli says:

    I think a good place to start ending the nightmare of Wildlife Services is with a coalition of the willing, by having environmentally friendly Democrats teaming with fiscal-conservative Republicans and Democrats to DOWN-SIZE Wildlife Services to an agency responsible only for protecting Airports from wandering wildlife —It could be renamed; Airport Wildlife Services or some such title.

  20. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    I’ve posted articles about our snowy owls before, but I am thrilled and proud of how Logan respects bird life:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/12/11/logan-airport-shows-way-snowy-owls-alight/hIwJb74URZaHhp6MIJKybL/story.html

    Planes, trains, automobiles all shut down today. All hail Mother Nature! We’ve officially gotten 7 feet of snow in three and a half weeks! I’ll be glad when Spring comes, even though I love winter. 🙂

    • avatar Yvette says:

      Way to go, Boston! That’s wonderful that they are trapping and relocating. Looks like NY is going to follow. Good deal.

      ….7 feet of snow, wow! Stay warm and safe. It was 75 degrees here yesterday, but in the mid-30’s today. We’ve not really had winter this year. Very boring winter.

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        The weather has been anything but boring, that’s for sure! It feels like a real winter.

        That’s extreme in your area too? I’m sorry that I have lost all patience when it comes to wildlife issues, and people complaining when we already dominate more than our fair share of the planet. WM is right in one respect that as long as our population keeps growing, the status quo will only get worse.

        Well, I’m well over my allotment, so I’ll check in with everyone tomorrow – have a good nite!

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Quote

‎"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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