Congress should defund predator control by Wildlife Services from aircraft

Sinapu and many other groups want this annual massive assault on our native carnivores stopped.

It is excessive, it’s not cost effective, it is an undue subsidy to a small group and kills animals that many would like to see live. There are many other ways of achieving valid results without using this method.

I have reported on a number of “wolf controls” where perhaps a thousand dollars or less of livestock was killed, and the operation to shoot the wolves from the air cost many times more. Several years ago I was told Wildlife Services spent over a hundred thousand dollars going after one Montana wolf pack that sporadically killed a few head of livestock here and there, and while some wolves were eventually shot, it was never determined if they were the ones killing.

I suspect the wholesale gunning of smaller predators like coyotes is even less effective because almost all that are killed are completely blameless for killing livestock, and the benefits they produce in keeping the rodent populations in check are never even counted.

As fuel prices surge, aerial gunning becomes even more wasteful.

Here is a story from the Wild Again blog (Sinapu). Call to End Aerial Gunning of Wildlife. Two More Federal Agents Killed in Questionable Program






  1. kt Avatar

    Wildlife Services in Idaho currently has a “5-Year Environmental Monitoring Report” on their predator-killing in southern Idaho out for public comment. It does not seem to be anywhere on-line.

    In it, they mention a “non-fatal aircraft crash that occurred during routine coyote hunting activities on Dec 20, 2004 on private lands near Terreton, ID. “The fixed wing aircraft was rented … and was considered a total loss by the insurer”. It appears the “routine” coyote killer and pilot were largely unscathed.

    Wildlife Services purposefully has broken Idaho into TWO separate regions – north and south for environmental reporting purposes. I think this is to try to avoid the necessity of doing an EIS to cover their killing activities.

    The report does not contain an account of how much their programs cost U. S. taxpayers. At one point, they say they killed an average of 4,717 animals annually, and elsewhere the report states an average of 4,375 coyotes kkilled per year. Hard to believe they killed less than 400 other critters.

    The report states: “In response to requests for assistance from livestock producers and the public … Wildlife Services personnel documented “an average of 372 adult sheep, 920 lambs, 10 adult cattle, 155 calves, 14 goats/kids, 193 fowl, 93 game birds, 34 pets, 5 horses and 80 beehives” .. with “an average annual estimated total value of $223, 648”.

    Elsewhere, the report also states: “according to STATEWIDE DATA compiled .. by the Idaho Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) … during 2002 to 2006 … predation was the single largest cause of death loss for Idaho sheep producers with 29% (5 year average) of the total death losses attributed to predators”. HARD to understand just how this meshes with the preceding statistic. Just how many domestic sheep are there in southern Idaho?

    And somehow, given the proclivity of domestic sheep to die from any number of nasty diseases, including many diseases transmissible to humans, this seems wildly inflated.

    Who knows what is to be believed in this jumble of statistics and percentages …

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Thanks for providing these figures and trying to make some sense out of them.

  3. Barb Avatar

    Why do livestock owners think they have the right to treat our wildlife like this?

    People can destroy what they own– these livestock owners do not “own” our wildlife! It is a national treasure!

    I believe the tide is turning, but slowly. Property is becoming too expensive to ranch for a living. The “newer” hobby ranchers seem more in tune with nature.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  4. Barb Avatar

    What is the BEST way to make Wildlife Services actually LISTEN to us?

    Aren’t they just carrying out the wishes of their “constituency?”

    I’ve written to my senators many times about this very issue — they just send me a form letter saying “thanks for your comments.”

  5. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    And right after you get your form letter the politicians accept another shipment from the livestock industry of choice porterhouse steaks, prime rib roasts, and tenderloin, to fill the freezer up. Plus another big campaign contribution.

  6. Mark Avatar


    Yes, they see defunding lethal predator control as the same thing as taking away their steak dinner.

    People need to understand that DEFUNDING lethal predator control will not make beef go away anytime soon!

    Hopefully it will eventually — but not anytime soon!

  7. barbprotectswildlife Avatar

    I called Wildlife Services and asked a few questions. Thought I’d share:

    What is the total budget? $108.59 million for protecting resources of agriculture, human health and safety, property and natural resources. About 52% was provided by federal funds, with the remainder provided by the agencies, organizations and individuals for whom the work was done.

    What is the total amount spent per year to protect livestock? – About 38% of that operational budget, a total of $41.68 million, was spent on protection of agricultural resources which is categorized as protection of Aquaculture ($ 1.9 million), Forest/range ($ 3.6 million), Crops ($ 5.9 million) and Livestock ($30.4 million).

    How much is spent for livestock protection per year on predatory animals? I don’t have that number separately.

    How much is spent total for: AG, HHS, Property Protection (examples) and Natural Resource Protection (example)?
    Agriculture Resources $41,687,681; Human Health and Safety $39,854,783; Property $13,630,272; Natural Resources $13,417,265

    Does the agency use neck snares, steel traps (where it catches the animal’s limb). Are the animals just left out to suffer and die or what happens once they’re “caught?” When is “follow up” done? (hours, days later?)

    What is the agency doing to increase its use of non-lethal predator control? The wildlife damage management research allocation was approximately $19.5 million in FY06. More than 70% of research funding is used for research and development of nonlethal damage management methods (such as scare devices and electric fladry). Producers spend about $194 million on nonlethal methods to control predation and WS provides producers with such information. This link describes work done by a WS specialist in Idaho in which eight miles of fladry was installed. .


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan