Rocky Barker: Federal predator-killing agency faces new attacks

Barker thinks cutting funds to Wildlife Services (WS) is “low hanging fruit.” I don’t think it will be that easy. They have been very resilient in the past 80 years. He also argues that in the Southwest, WS is viewed as a barrier to wolf recovery not just by wolf conservationists, but by state wildlife agencies. Not so quite so in the Northern Rockies.

My view of WS in the Northern Rockies is that their behavior has deteriorated over time. Six years ago they were engaging in non-lethal control, trying to keep wolves and livestock apart before something was killed, and they were doing research on alternative methods. Now that has almost ceased. Standard procedure is to get in an aircraft and shoot.

In the past when they were under political attack, they survived by reforming themselves (for a while). This would probably be the prudent thing for them to do now because their political patrons who currently have so much power are likely to be seriously out of power at the both the congressional and executive level come 2009.

Barker’s blog. Idaho Statesman.







  1. Maska Avatar

    Barker is correct that the way to attack WS is through a potential coalition of animal supporters and fiscal conservatives. However, I think he’s far too sanguine about the extent to which state wildlife agencies in the Southwest view WS as an impediment to Mexican wolf recovery.

    Only the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has expressed even mild dismay over excessive removals, lethal and otherwise, and then only after Gov. Bill Richardson expressed his displeasure over the shooting of Durango AF924–victim of the alleged baiting on the Adobe-Slash. Richardson called for a suspension of removals under SOP 13.0 (requiring the removal of any lobo killing three head of livestock in 365 days) until it was subjected to scrutiny and possible revision.

    The result? To date, the six agency Adaptive Management Oversight Committee, chaired by Terry Johnson of the AZ Game and Fish Department, has considered for revision and/or promulgated at least four other, less critical standard operating procedures, but has done precisely nothing to lessen the impact of SOP 13.0. Meanwhile, the entire Aspen pack, a genetically valuable pack consisting of an alpha pair, a female yearling, and three pups, was removed from the same area in New Mexico where AF924 was shot by WS.

    If our state game agencies are really dismayed at the effect of all those removals on the Mexican wolf population (down for the third year out of four), they have an odd way of showing it.


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Ralph Maughan