Call for end to USDA's wildlife killing agency
By Ken Cole On February 19, 2009 · 103 Comments · In Coyotes, Predator Control, Wolves
115 groups call for the end of the agency which kills 1 million animals each year.
Call for end to USDA’s wildlife killing agency
The Associated Press
Tagged with: Predator Control • USDA-Wildlife Services
Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.
103 Responses to Call for end to USDA's wildlife killing agency
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Nathan, you’re absolutely right.
For the sake of full disclosure, Wolf Recovery Foundation is a signatory organization of this letter.
Looking at the list of signatories, I don’t see “Defenders” represented. Am I missing something, or is it that they don’t want to upset the livestock industry??
I am guessing Defenders doesn’t want to appear they are going against the livestock industry. I have long disagreed with their stance on paying for livestock losses as they are not even seen as credible by many in the livestock business, though it’s been a (an unsuccesful) strategy of theirs. So the money is going for nothing — especially on a P.R. level. I still support their other fine work but disagree with the payments to livestock owners — as it isn’t even appreciated! Defenders needs to nix that program and use it instead to publicize issues.
Guess which agency is responsible for controlling birds near airports? You know, the kind that fly into the engines of airplanes and cause pilots to crash land on the Hudson river?
Calling for WS to be abolished is silly; calling for them to end the lethal control of predators as a subsidy for ranchers is an entirely different matter.
OK — JB– again, let’s play the “splitting hairs” game….
Some agencies were created for the WRONG reasons; Wildlife Services is one such agency. They have morphed into other areas of course, but “Wildlife Services” has been and still is, very much, a “partner” in “The Livestock Industry.” It is difficult for a tiger to change its stripes.
Organizations with unethical practices know that they can gain approval from a wider group of constituents if they go into other more “benign” areas to DIFFUSE the damage they do.
Please stop your obvious trolling.
A NEW agency to deal with birds at airports and other such issues can easily be created; an agency that is not, and has NEVER BEEN, in bed with the livestock industry, and is NOT a part of the U.S.D.A.
It’s a CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
Better watch out Nathan, you will end up like me! When you work for a agency, don’t you know, you can’t have an opinion! If you have an opinion, then you end up not having a job!
I am not against big government (necessarily) or the creation of a new department. However, if the idea is to deal with real nuisancewildlife issues then maybe the duties of existing departments could be expanded to problem solve. For example, it does not necessarily have to be APHIS/WS departments eliminate the problem with birds in flight paths. This could fairly easily folded into a duty of the FAA.This department probably already studies this problem and has specific recomendations for each situation. If it is determined that the ONLY way to avoid bird collisions is to eliminate a certain local avian population, then the actual “harvest” could be contracted out to a private company. I think this type situation would work under a number of circumstances. This, coupled with a governmental and/or private insurance program for those issues like loss to predators might be the way to go. The federal goverment should not be in the business of wildlife destruction.
Some things that wildlife services does are benefical to the ecosystem as a whole.. I.E. the removal of non native species like starlings, pigeons, etc.. As for killing wolves and coyotes, the states will just take up the slack.
Not everything wildlife services does is the great evil its played out to be.
But the world is always easier to view in black and white.
“Please stop your obvious trolling.”
Your suggestion that I am “trolling” is comical. Just because I disagree with you and the “group think” that sometimes pervades these types of forums, does not mean I have a hidden agenda. You have criticized others for making personal attacks on this blog; it appears you are not willing to abide by your own rules.
Regardless, I understand the history and mission of WS better than you might think. It is true that WS is under the thumb of agriculture, of course this makes sense as “Protecting American agriculture” is its basic mission.
Still, Wildlife Services, especially via its research branch (NWRC), provides beneficial services as well, including research into zoonotic disease transmission, methods for controlling the spread of invasive/exotic species, aviation safety, etc. They also are in the forefront of research on methods of non-lethal control that people seem to like so much.
Advocating for doing away with an agency and its associated JOBS during a deep economic recession is a silly position to adopt. Really; how likely do you think it is that the Obama administration is going abolish APHIS/WS at a time when it is struggling to create jobs? A better (in the sense that it is more realistic) position is to push for congressional reform of the agency via new authorizing legislation. You might also push for moving the WS portion of APHIS from the DOA to DOI under the FWS, though I think this would be harder to pull off.
You say I’m “splitting hairs,” I say I’m trying to look at the big picture, including what is possible in the current political and economic climate. If you don’t agree with me, fine. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. How about presenting a substantive argument instead of attacking me?
Ryan:I think we just agreed twice in a 24 hour period. 😉
Since I am a representative of one of the organizations that signed this letter…
This wasn’t a Defenders idea, at least to write this letter, though I suspect that they would be pleased if it garnered some results in the direction of the request. Defenders works with WS in numerous ways, initially to develop nonlethal wolf management tools. They worked with them in the Phantom Hill pack summer program – without whose approval the project might not have been conducted in the first place. It would be biting them when they have a pseudo partnership in some of their efforts. Even when WS turns and bites Defenders in more cases than not.
Second, this is an appeal for a more realistic approach to the functioning of this agency since it seems to have veered far from any rational idea of management techniques. WS is in bed with anti-wolf legislators who would have their states cede from the nation given half a chance ~ except for all the federal taxpayer support they receive to continue unsustainable practices, like ranching in low vegetation areas and on public land at a deficit to the public. WS is there at their bidding and basically does their dirty work to make it all look legal on paper when they go out and kill endangered species, particularly wolves, in spectacular display on the public dole.
The best thing that could be done in this case to quash the corruption and circumvention of law is to dissolve the agency and develop a new one, perhaps in FWS to deal with invasive and exotic species, since they already have half the responsibilities of managing the ESA. NOAA being the other agency responsible for ESA matters due to aquatic life that is in danger.
WS only kills endangered and other species and has no mandate for preserving them. Their entire purpose, in the interior west, is to do the bidding of the livestock industry at taxpayer expense. Most of this activity is based on mythology and control of nature issues.
We can’t separate ourselves from nature though it appears that we are constantly trying to prove that we are somehow above it and directed by somebody’s god to do so. Without nature and its processes, we cannot survive… no matter what anybody’s god-representatives tell you. they too are human and have the same needs from the natural world regardless of how unseemly that may be.
Its obvious from the above postings and some personal things in my life that there are either representatives or close friends to W.S. reading this thread so I would like to ask them a question,
What is the S.O.P. for eradication efforts on Wolves and Coyotes, what steps must be taken are there any permits or approvals from intergovernmental agency’s before the chopper flies or the traps are set? I would really like to know the entire process so I can personally weigh what steps are taken in consideration of the environment and ecological soundness of public lands.
Everything I have ever heard about Wildlife Services is an agency shrouded in secrecy that trys to keep as low of a profile as possible as they buzz public lands in search of killer predators, I have seen pictures of them grinning ear to ear with dead predators at there feet and I have watched as they conceal numbers and information about there activity from the public’s eye. I haven’t heard much else.
So really whats the procedure, I know your out there. Im really trying to be honest and open here. Please post here or contact me directly via my contact page at my website nathanhobbs.com
I saw an article a couple of weeks ago about how airports actually have their OWN people hired to deal with bird issues. Didn’t retrieve it just now – but did find this:
It seems like if you want something like this dine effectively, you DO NOT use Wildlife Services. Maybe there just is not the glamour for them in like there is in their pursuit of predators.
Also – note the proximity of airports of Refuges – because those swampy areas filled in for runways were cheap, waste land …???
I agree that the federal government has NO place in the destruction of wildlife.
If airports want to hire a private firm to deal with bird issues, so be it.
If ranchers want to hire private wildlife killers (even though I would oppose this personally) that would be “better” than having our tax money go for the destruction of wildlife, particularly our native wildlife. Since when did or should taxpayer money be subsidizing PRIVATE businesses? That is a conflict of interest and highly unethical.
Again, agencies such as Wildlife Services, like to try to “hide” their uglier side by engaging in other “benign services” to DILUTE the ugly side. A little of ugly, a little of “good.”
And again, the USDA should not be able to legally kill native wildlife to protect farmers and ranchers. Absolutely wrong.
Ryan, the way I see it, the feds owe the people MONETARY REPARATIONS for all the millions of animals they’ve killed for the wrong reasons (protecting private business). This money should go into a pool where non-profits advocating for the return of native species get to apply for a grant.
There also needs to be a museum created with interactive displays, films, a bookstore, etc. set up in one of the western states similar to the holocaust, showing all the destruction Wildlife Services and the Livestock Industry have done to our countryside.
Many airports do hire their own people and simply consult with WS as needed. Note, depending on species, birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the ESA. Airport Wildlife Specialists work with WS because they are accustomed to working within the confines of these laws.
I saw a presentation recently at the Ohio F&W Conference (see: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=nqW0XnWgXB0%3d&tabid=18736) where a former WS employee spoke about WS’ activities with respect to bird strikes, including consulting with a Mexican airport that had a raptor problem. They found that removing the thick vegetation and abundant trash around the airport fence effectively reduced habitat for rats–the reason raptors were congregating around the airport–and solved the raptor problem.
I’m happy to criticize WS for what they do wrong–most notably, killing endangered species to protect livestock interests on PUBLIC land. In fact, I know some employees of the NWRC that privately are extremely critical of this practice. However, that is not the whole story. People here seem to have trouble understanding that WS also employs individuals who work on rabies, CWD transmission, bovine TB, the control of invasive/exotic plants, etc.
JB: I do realize that W.S. does some good stuff; of course Hitler also did some nice things for his relatives as well.
The point is, W.S., being an agency under the USDA and being connected with killing native wildlife is not something that it should be involved in — ethically and morally.
Our tax money simply should not be subsidizing private livestock owners financially (why should it?) or by “taking care of” (killing) native wildlife!
The government doesn’t subsidize my business– why are livestock owners special? They want special rights and privileges.
JB is it possible to know the “whole story” about wildlife services?
Perhaps by asking that the agency be abolished we will find out the whole story. If there are things the agency does that have an element of common sense instead of economic convenience to them, perhaps asking for the agency to be shut down will create a new one with more accountability to the whole public.
I really think it is in very bad taste to compare the killing of wildlife to the Holocaust as well as Hitler…many of us are aghast at the destruction of wildlife, but there is no way it compares to the murder of over 6 million people of a certain ethic group!
Barb says: “…the federal government has NO place in the destruction of wildlife.”
So, if I understand you correctly… the federal government should not kill rabid wildlife, it should not kill invasive wild animals (e.g. European starlings), it should not kill habituated or food-conditioned animals even if they pose a threat to human health and safety, it should not kill wildlife that spread disease (e.g. mosquitoes), and it should not kill wildlife that eat crops (e.g. starlings, raccoons, deer) even where they are abundant?
[and then] “If ranchers want to hire private wildlife killers (even though I would oppose this personally) that would be “better” than having our tax money go for the destruction of wildlife…”
So instead of having a federally-regulated agency subject to Congressional oversight and the FOI Act perform these duties, you would rather that individuals pay private citizens like Ryan (sorry to pick on you Ryan) to take care of their wildlife nuisance problems? Do I have that right?
Save Bears — OK, you’re right —
JB — let’s take your questions one at a time:
No, not the feds — local agencies can take care of rabid wildlife, invasive species.
Habituated animals should always first try to be placed in sanctuaries. Since humans created the problem — repeat — since HUMANS created the problem — repeat– humans created the problem — it is humans who need to be responsible and not make the poor defenseless animal pay with its LIFE.
Absolutely should NOT kill animals that are going after crops — not with my tax money — they can use their own. WalMart has to pay for security — as every other business owner. Why should ag private people or co’s be any different?
Sorry, JB, let me clarify please. I absolutely do not believe in killing animals that go after livestock or crops.
There are non-lethal ways to deal with this issue and don’t do it using my tax money. Pay for it yourself — do I ask the gov to pay for my business security and insurance? Hell no!
Nearly all “research” conducted by Wildlife Services is like having Dow Chemical conduct unquestioned “research” on its latest, greatest biocides …
Wildlife Services is ONE with the livestock industry – including bogus research on “predation”, on Mormon crickets and grasshoppers, etc. It is especially galling that the cricket poisoners and the coyote killers aggressively PROMOTE their killing services to ag. interests.
Wildlife Services needs to be abolished, staff dissolved, and and any essential “services” you think they might provide should be taken over by other existing agencies. Tough scrutiny mechanisms should then be put in place overseeing any “essential” functions that continue to be performed.
They have brought this on themselves – by fostering their own culture of being secretive lying killers.
Thanks for the reasoned response. I agree that we, the citizens of the U.S., should not be forced to subsidize the killing of native wildlife on public lands to support the livestock industry. Invasive and exotic species are another matter, private property is another matter, animals that are deemed dangerous are another matter.
Generally, I agree with your views. However, the reason I’m here pissing and moaning is that I think the groups advocating this position made a tactical error. By adopting the most extreme position (i.e. APHIS/WS should be dismantled) without ANY acknowledgment to the beneficial services the agency performs they allow their proposal to be easily dismissed by people who might otherwise be sympathetic. I think it would’ve been wiser to call on Congress to fundamentally restructure the agency (as I noted, above). Again, at a time when the U.S. is hyper-focused on creating jobs, it seems foolish to call for the Obama administration to fire an entire agency.
I am really not taking sides on this, I don’t want to be called names again by people who don’t know me.
But, one point I will just throw out, all of us that pay Federal as well as State Taxes, do ask the government to provide security for us, it is called public services and includes…Police, Fire, Military These are all services we pay for to ensure a safer life and protection for ourselves as well as our property…
Now I will bow back out…
JB– although that isn’t the ideal solution, it would be better to completely re-structure the agency as their ties and history to the livestock industry are just too strong creating a conflict of interest to the public.
If they would just end their lethal predator program, I would be one happy camper.
Okay, in defense of Barb’s comment;
So Hitler isn’t the best example… How about manifest destiny?
Only the “good species” are allowed as long as they don’t have anything to do with making the landscape more like it was before the special livestock people with their overly subsidized private interests showed up with unsustainable practices that trash the natural environment and give nothing back?
Granted WS should be dealing with cases of rabid skunks and whatnot but they have no place in “taking” healthy wolves to the benefit of privately owned livestock in regions where they have no viability without WS using millions in taxpayer $$s to make them viable, that is along with all the other subsidies attached. Without all the billions that go to make these private welfare industries function, and basically without profit, these operations wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.
My take on what she was trying to articulate…
Personally, I’d like to see them get their filthy animals off my property, and yours. Have you ever tried to hike in a national forest area that was near a grazing allotment and not noticed the swarms of houseflies and biting flies and all the giardia infested streams and the trails cluttered with facl materials left by the cattle in the over -grazed places that have little native vegetation left? It’s disheartening and one of the reasons many folks don’t like to go hiking anymore. It’s too trashed to enjoy.
Save Bears — yep, understand.
If a wild animal is about to attack and kill a human being, that is completely different.
But W.S. proactively goes into areas where calves are going to be born and systematically kills the coyotes. That is abuse of power if I ever heard it.
W.S. is, in effect, acting as an “insurance company” for free (subsidized by taxpayers). That isn’t right.
Native animals are not “stealing” or “killing calves” like a thief might. Animals do not have a sense of what’s “right” and “wrong” as humans should. They are simply doing exactly as God and Nature intended, trying to survive. And they’re punished (lethally) for it so some rancher can make a profit. Not fair!
Please don’t get me wrong, I would like to see the cattle off of public lands, I hated it when I lived in Washington, the area I hunted was just outside Trout Lake, WA basically on the flanks of Mt. Adams and it is free range, so the destruction that cattle had cause was very apparent..so I would like to see them off public lands, and I am all for going with what the public wants on the lands it owns…
That’s great, SaveBears. Your point is well taken that it should be the GENERAL PUBLIC (not special interests) deciding how our public lands will be used. If there were a vote, I wonder how the general public would vote? I would bet they would say wild horses DO have a place on our public lands and private businesses do not. If the horse population gets to be “too much” (which I find hard to believe once the cattle are gone) then we can deal with that in a compassionate and caring way.
Some environmentalists are truly extremists — any blade of glass stomped on by an animal that may not be native is a horrible thing. I’m not that extreme — it’s if the ecosystem is being damaged and displacing native animals, that is a different story, as in cattle on public lands.
Even though it’s not my first choice, I would even be willing to subsidize the livestock industry with tax money IF they would agree to ONLY use non-lethal methods to fend off predators (unless a wild animal is coming right at a human to attack it).
One of the biggest problems I find, is the majority of America, really don’t know about this, they don’t understand and they for the most part don’t care, which is why it is such and uphill battle to change the way things are done..
Any federal agency that has gone to an extreme of activity and alliance with a few special interests needs to be dissolved. There is no other way to “clean house” with such an inbred agency that has no visible accountability to the public. In addition, this might be one of those agencies that actually contribute to the “bloated” government and one we can do without given that their actual essential functions be delegated to another agency that is assigned the duty of protecting wildlife. WS is duty-bound to protect livestock interests being a part of the Agriculture Dept. Something is inherently wrong there and needs correction ASAP.
And I think Barb has a valid point about private interests on the public dole in so many of their practices. Once again, I repeat that the livestock industry has a history of financial failure and with no accountability, they lose $$ and we pay them for their losses, just sounds too much like the banking bailout we just got taken for… and this is just getting a little airtime of late. Imagine what would happen if everyone had a chance to see, on their paystub or UI benefit chack, what their contribution to WS and MT DoL and such organizations are on a monthly basis for the wolf, coyote killing programs.
I think that if people were held responsible for their actions with real consequences, we wouldn’t have so many whiners when it comes to issues of welfare ranching, predators killing humans and their pets…
Too bad so many humans see themselves as superior to all other living things and most other humans as well.
Salle, couldn’t agree more — especially where you said “WS is duty-bound to protect livestock interests being a part of the Agriculture Dept. Something is inherently wrong there and needs correction ASAP.”
And I agree with you SaveBears – that not enough of the public is aware of such issues and don’t care. It doesn’t “affect” them.
Several years ago, I watched John Kerry and Ted Kennedy on C-Span look like deer caught in headlights when someone asked them about the wild/feral horse issue. They’re from the east coast; they know nothing of the issues in the west, which is really sad.
Western legislators who DO know western issues are usually connected somehow to livestock producers or in bed with the industry. Where are the environmental Western legislators? I don’t know if I can even name ONE.
We “manage” wildlife (whether that means killing animals or restoring them) to meet some societal need. This is the fundamental purpose of every resource management agency. Wildlife Services exists because–at some point–our government came to the very reasonable conclusion that “protecting American agriculture” (i.e. our food supply) is a good idea.
Now, imagine you work in a Congressional office for House Representative so-and-so, and you don’t know squat about WS. You get the aforementioned “call” for the end of WS, read it, and are pretty pissed by the claims that are being made. So you go online, you make a couple of phone calls, and you do a little research. You find out that the predator control program that pulled at your heart strings is only a part of what WS does. In fact, their mission is “protecting American agriculture.” You do some digging and you find that this agency helps airports avoid bird strikes…hmm… well, that’s pretty salient with the American public about now. You make a few more phone calls and you find out WS is also working on controlling the spread of zoonotic diseases like rabies and avian flu–you know, the kind that tend to scare the hell out of people. Then you call around some more and you find out that yes indeed, they are in “bed” with agriculture. In fact, when you suggest to a colleague that the agency should be eliminated she gets a good hardy chuckle. “Last time I checked”, she says, “the Representative you work for is from a rural district.” You think we want to take on the Farm Bureau and big ag?”
Folks, Obama said he wants to go through the federal budget with a “scalpel”, not a machete. You can make a very good argument for ending the policy of killing predators for the benefit of the livestock industry–especially on public lands. In fact, if you make this pitch, the Farm Bureau and big ag may not even raise a fuss, as there are so few producers actually benefiting from this practice. But calling for abolishing an agency whose purpose is protecting the American food supply at a time when the administration is desperate to create jobs was a tactical error; it makes you appear ideological and unreasonable.
When people hear (and I’m paraphrasing)–“WS is run by Darth Vader and the Emperor, and their evil henchmen do nothing but fly around in black helicopters killing endangered species while laughing!!”–they snicker and move on.
JB — You’ve never studied the art of negotiation, have you? You always first ask for more than what you expect to get. When you “lower your expectations,” it is more likely you’ll get it.
I’d be THRILLED just to have their lethal program defunded.
You can only negotiate once you’ve been invited to the table. That invitation is unlikely to come when you adopt a position that allows policy makers to dismiss your views straight away as ideological and politically unrealistic.
“I’d be THRILLED just to have their lethal program defunded.”
On that we can agree.
Are the conservation groups asking for the total dissolution of Wildlife Services?
you can never expect someone to do the right thing when so afraid that it’lll be dismissed off-hand as to fail to articulate it. You have to be honest. This effort is clear and honest – it’s the right thing to do, and any failure of the administration to work toward responsiveness of the qualms outlined and substantiated there-in is a failure of that political process and our leaders – NOT of those so bold as to be honest.
115 groups felt strong enough to sign on. I am optimistic about it’s potential for reception.
Is there a plan that details ideas on how to restructure necessary ‘services?’
“This effort is clear and honest – it’s the right thing to do…”
That’s where I’m not sure I can agree. The “call” is certainly a damning and honest depiction of the branch of WS that kills predators for the benefit of agriculture. However, it is dishonest in what it omits. It is dishonest in that it damns all for the offenses of a few.
The view that Wildlife Services is evil–which is so often expressed on this blog–is also dishonest. For example, earlier in this thread someone suggest that all research sponsored by WS was suspect; yet here (see citation below) is a study sponsored by Wildlife Services that indicates the public is highly critical of its policies.
I know people at NWRC that neither have nor want anything to do with the predator control program. Is it honest to conclude that these people are guilty by association?
I too would like to see the predator control program disappear; but I wouldn’t toss out the baby with the bathwater.
Reiter, D., M. Brunson, and R. H. Schmidt. 1999. Public attitudes toward wildlife damage management and policy. Wildlife Society Bulletin 27:746-758.
JB — this is an interesting conversation because even if what you say is true, the public perception of Wildlife Services counts for a lot. If the people feel that it is in bed with the livestock industry (which it is and has been due to its history), they will never trust it.
It’s kinda like Haliburton — kinda == I emphasize. They’re a huge contracting company and got a bad rap which has stayed in the public perception.
One of their divisions they’d just acquired double billed by accident. People were also claiming that the feds were “automatically” giving the work to Haliburton; some people wanted to put out bids for ginormous projects that most companies would not even be able to handle or would not have the proper security clearances (only 3 co’s pre-approved). The other 2 co’s (Bechtel and EG +G?) said they couldn’t handle it, so the jobs went to Haliburton.
My point is that perception often counts more than actual facts…..
I would guess that 9/10 Americans could not tell you who WS is; the study I cited simply indicates that most people dislike lethal control (killing) and consider these methods to be inhumane. Trust is an entirely different matter. I would very much like to see an evaluation of public trust in WS.
The argument is made that the “legit” functions of WS could just as well be performed under other agencies. People aren’t enough aware that Wildlife Services spends $100 million slaughtering America’s valued wildlife – you don’t make them aware of that fact by parsing nuance making sure to include the receptionist’s lack of culpability to these facts in the Press Release. The criticism is leveled at the predator killing, I’m sure nobody would object to other positions being maintained.
As far as jobs being lost… these aren’t legitimate jobs, if these guys have any skills, they can find real jobs elsewhere. Besides, there really aren’t many WS personnel compared to other legitimate occupations that have been lost for lesser reasons… like the majority of manufacturing jobs and others that have been undermined by corporations and sent to nonunion countries (where unions are illegal) that pay less than half of what workers in the US could earn and without benefits including UI and other public services.
“The argument is made that the “legit” functions of WS could just as well be performed under other agencies. People aren’t enough aware that Wildlife Services spends $100 million slaughtering America’s valued wildlife – you don’t make them aware of that fact by parsing nuance making sure to include the receptionist’s lack of culpability to these facts in the Press Release. The criticism is leveled at the predator killing, I’m sure nobody would object to other positions being maintained.”
Do you mean valued like starlings, cow birds, european sparrows, rats, which make up the lions share of animals removed by WS? There was a few hundred wolves removed, do you not think that if these wolves were not removed by the feds, the states wouldn’t have stepped in or the locals.. Trust me, you want the feds in charge of these practices not the states or last century un enlightened hillbillys like me (your welcome JB) :). Because the feds will target problem animals and wolf packs, where as private contractors will kill every wolf for 100 sqmi of the incident. As far as private land ag depredation most large unglates are handled on the state level with depredation or emergency hunts (which have filled my freezer a few times). The only time that WS comes in is dealing with urban deer over population as a general rule. Barb before you say that large predator should be allowed to roam in city limits, note that the vast majority of the general public doesn’t like seeing fluffy get eaten by a coyote or a cougar in there back yard. (it has happened on numerous occasions over the last few years.
“As far as jobs being lost… these aren’t legitimate jobs, if these guys have any skills, they can find real jobs elsewhere. ”
So the guy doing research on the efficacy of a rabies vaccine for feral dogs and cats doesn’t have a legitimate job? I say this with all due respect–I think you could be letting your hatred of the predator control program cloud your judgment.
“Trust me, you want the feds in charge of these practices not the states or last century un enlightened hillbillys like me…”
Exactly (thank you, Ryan). Head over to YouTube for a moment and search “varmint control.” Tell me if you like what you see. I can’t seem to find it now, but a while back I encountered a video of someone using a common household chemical and a syringe mounted on a broomstick to kill a “nuisance” skunk. The point is, if the Feds are not “controlling” nuisance wildlife, then you can sure as hell bet that someone else will be. And very likely they won’t have any training in wildlife, nor be much concerned about making clean kills.
More to Salle’s point, which agencies do you think are most likely to hire the predator control “specialists” at WS once the agency has been dissolved? IDF&G? MFW&P? WF&G? Then you’ll be filing FOIA requests with 3,4,5 or 50 agencies instead of just one. Additionally, you’ll lose Congressional oversight and the ability to compile statistics on what is being killed, when, and why.
I hope that Brain, Salle and Ralph know that we are all on the same page with respect to predator control. However, I worry about what will occur in the vacuum left behind if you get your wish and WS is eliminated.
I am aware of some of the actions that WS has taken in recent months and to say that “the feds will target problem animals and wolf packs” would be a little off base. There have been instances where wolves were trapped and killed in areas where WS was using “culled” sheep as bait. The “culled” sheep were those that couldn’t keep up with the rest of the herd so the shepherd left them behind with no intention of keeping them safe. WS then came in and trapped wolves using them as an excuse. This is blatantly illegal and it is called BAITING and these same people have the gall to ask counties to pick up the tab so that they can meet their shortfalls in their budget.
It is pretty apparent from an exchange previously that WS does not like scrutiny and is quick in retribution against both wolves and people.
Has anyone heard anything about the illegal M44 incident up in Riggins last year? Remember the one where WS put out the coyote getters there and ended up killing a couple of wolves? Did anyone get in trouble for that? Maybe?
Does anyone think that WS is going to respond to the FOIA they received recently? I doubt it.
WS is a rouge agency that does really dirty work in secrecy. It’s hard not to ask for their complete dissolution and replace some of their more useful programs with an entirely different agency altogether. In Idaho they are the culture of death and they have some rather unprofessional individuals who enjoy the killing.
I see where both JB and Brian are coming from and with things that I know it is hard for me to moderate my feelings. The wanton predator killing and advocacy for killing to an even greater degree by WS means they need to go away. Read their annual reports and you will see where they are coming from. With regard to wolves it’s just kill kill kill with no acknowledgments of any mistakes and shear hatred for wolves. They only represent the interests of the livestock industry not people as a whole.
Don’t forget they want to change the rules so that they can kill 26 packs of wolves (possibly 200+) in Idaho outside of the 45 day window. That would be called RETRIBUTION killing and would serve no purpose other than the reduce the population of wolves.
Western District (Boise)
Todd Grimm 378-5077
Anyone who has had dealings with WS in the form of FOI requests and accountability of its personnel realize what type of low-life you’re dealing with. I’ve been there, as I’m sure Brian and Ken have also. They beat you down with appeals and “if you want the info, take us to district court” tactics. Pretty tough for an individual to fight that attitude.
Just scroll down the following website to see why I requested information on some of their tactics and personnel. I obtained those last 3 pictures and to this day have never received the info I requested on the conduct of those agents or an “honest” explanation of that particular slaughter.
There’s plenty of research facilities, public and private, that would take up the slack on wildlife disease, non-lethal controls, bird problems at airports(check the Port of Seattle and Sea/tac airport)etc.
Scrap WS and start over…they’ve acted like an agency on steroids.
http://www.goagro.org/ Check it out!!
Look, I’ll let this drop–mostly because I have neither the time nor the inclination to continue to defend this agency. But I find the mob-mentality displayed here with respect to Wildlife Services troubling. It is reminiscent of the attitudes toward Muslims in the U.S. directly following 9/11. Guilt by association. Consider the possibility that WS personnel in Idaho and Wyoming (and who tend to come from the communities in which they work) are substantively different from those working in California, Massachusetts or New York. Forty-three of fifty states do not have resident wolf populations and nearly every state east of the Mississippi has little federal land and less livestock grazing.
– – – –
Port of Seattle is a great example. Check out their wildlife management plan: http://www.portseattle.org/downloads/community/environment/wildlifemanagement08.pdf. You’ll notice that it was developed in cooperation with WS; you’ll also notice (on p. 7) that WS has several specific responsibilities under the plan. None of them involves shooting wolves from helicopters.
Just to set some balance, I do know one WS agent whom I know and respect and is not a shoot first wonder if there was a nonlethal approach later (or not care after the fact at all) in Idaho but that’s about it. In fact, he was instrumental in development and implementation of the majority of nonlethal wolf management tools available today and I have participated in his workshops. But I have yet to meet another who could even begin to compare when it comes to having any sanity when it comes to wolves and livestock. I don’t care what the agents in other states do with their programs, the blatant lack of appropriateness employed in the Rocky mountain states, by this agency, is beyond acceptance and has no place in the public sector.
The agency has been corrupted and should be dissolved. Any valid programs can be absorbed by other agencies as jerryb suggested.
Salle, I SO agree with you! The agency is absolutely CORRUPT and should be dissolved, mostly from their wanton killing of wildlife.
Jerry, thanks for the info!
We need to keep shining the light of truth on this shrouded agency benignly called “Wildlife Services.”
I also think that the conservation groups need to do more in the way of educating the rest of the country on western issues and how corrupt the livestock industry/W.S. has been.
Ryan, the agency kills about 100,000 MAMMALS per year!
You also said something about “allowing coyotes to roam free in cities.” Allowing them? I have an issue with how you perceive things. Are humans God??? If they aren’t disturbing anyone, leave them alone. If they are going after pets, be a responsible pet owner and keep your damn pets secured!!!
JB — I think we realize that there can always be good people associated with corrupt organizations.
The problem with W.S. is how it was created, why it was created, and who it has benefitted, and what is has destroyed! As far as I see it, Wildlife Services owes the American taxpayers a lot of money for “Reparations for destruction to animals, particularly predatory animals, denying American citizens the right to enjoy native wildlife as is their inherent right to do so.”
Inherent right to do so? Please explain Barb…
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Ryan, the agency kills about 100,000 MAMMALS per year!
You also said something about “allowing coyotes to roam free in cities.” Allowing them? I have an issue with how you perceive things. Are humans God??? If they aren’t disturbing anyone, leave them alone. If they are going after pets, be a responsible pet owner and keep your damn pets secured!!!
100,000 mammals, how many are mice, non native rats etc.. Also please cite your source and species breakdown..
If there causing problems they need to be removed. Coyotes, raccons,etc can be very problematic in urban settings. Why dont you call my boss and tell him how irresponsible he is for letting his terrier get killed in his front yard in inner SW portland by a coyote this winter.
Ryan, I don’t want to get caught up in any further conversations about your archaic ideas of wildlife. It’s a waste of my time.
President Obama announced that budget cuts are in order in spite of and/or because of the cost of the stimulus package. Today is the fiscal responsibility summit.
Programs like Wildlife Services should be obvious, not just because they spend most of their money going after predators of livestock, but because they do it wastefully. They use mostly aircraft. You can imagine how expensive that is. Operations cost more than the value of livestock lost.
Just eliminating their aerial budget would save a lot of money. In the old days, the ADC agents (the agency was called Animal Damage Control until about a decade ago) were locally called “government trappers.” They should take a hint.
Taking out the aerial budget would also stop plans for mass killing of wolves.
WildEarth Guardians is asking for the total dismemberment of Wildlife Services. How do you think that will go over, Ralph?
It may or may not be politically easier to do (eliminate the agency)
If one doesn’t work, then the other should be tried.
Barb…”denying American citizens the right to enjoy native wildlife as is their inherent right to do so”.
I believe that under the “Public Trust Doctrine”, you’re absolutely correct and even Montana FWP states that “Wildlife within the state belongs to ALL the people of the state”,(Course, they say that, but don’t abide by it).
This historic concept is undergoing more and more scrutiny by various law firms.
I do think with constant pressure from environmental groups, the lethal program will be eventually phased out, but not without huge fights and time. The question is, how much time will it take and how much more damage will be done?
JerryB– I did not hear of this concept from anyone else although others may have thought of it previously — I just thought it up — and posted it elsewhere almost a year ago – It got a lot of attention from opponents (and others)….
“Programs like Wildlife Services should be obvious, not just because they spend most of their money going after predators of livestock, but because they do it wastefully. They use mostly aircraft. You can imagine how expensive that is. Operations cost more than the value of livestock lost.”
Actually using airplanes is about the most cost efficient way to remove problem animals. The succes rate of ground based trappers is much less as is the potential for collateral catches.
Ryan…..”Actually using airplanes is about the most cost efficient way to remove animals”
OK….now back that statement up with some data. Your credibility is at stake.
I just called Defenders of Wildlife and suggested they send an e-mail to all their members informing them of the new coalition and website — the guy who answered said he had no idea why they didn’t do that.
Perhaps they don’t want to — but they try to portray themselves and act in manners which encourage cooperation, so I don’t really understand that.
The Defenders name is clearly on the website as a coalition member…. so, being a member of Defenders for about 10 years now, it surprised me that I heard of this website not thru Defenders but thru Ralph Maughan’s wonderful blog!
It costs $700/hour to run the helicopter Ryan. It is very expensive and it doesn’t pay for itself when you figure in the value of the livestock that they are killed for.
I think they call that “chasing pennies with dollars”.
Barb…….you might also want to ask “Defenders” why they’re not on the list of 60 organizations requesting an end to Wildlife Services.
its called tripping over dollars to save pennies!
Okay, simply put a top notch goverment trapper can put maybe 10 coyotes on the ground in a good day, the average is less probably 3-5. Ususally small airlplanes are used or chute planes are used which cost 250 an hour to run. On a good day using a chute plane or small cessna 50-60 coyotes can be taken off a ranch. One private contractor I know out of the Bend oregon area took 87 in one afternoon off some private ranches outside of maupin. The cost per AUM removed is significantly less.
“put maybe 10 coyotes on the ground.”
Ryan, your language is meant to provoke and incite, nothing more.
I disagree with you, SaveBears, that Ryan is on here to legitimately discuss any issues.
One can have a totally opposite viewpoint and not be so “in your face” about it, purposefully to stir up reactions. Ryan is not one of those who wish to give just a different viewpoint.
Jerry, I think I already know the answer re: Defenders.
They like to be perceived as more neutral — that they do want wolves but want to ensure that they’re not ticking off the ranching community.
That would be too blatant a move for them.
Still, I don’t think their strategy is working, as far as getting ranchers to be on their side, as most stuff you read from the ag community mocks and or criticizes Defenders.
I could really care less if you disagree with me, that makes no bearing on what others have to say…or what others feel..
You know, when I worked for FWP, it was people like you that created the biggest problems in trying to find solutions that would satisfy both sides on very convoluted issues..
Don’t get so bent, SaveBears. You either want differing viewpoints or you don’t. Why are you all of a sudden attacking me? Because I am calling a spade a spade?
What am I supposed to say barb? barbarically murdered 10 coyotes in a good day would that make you happy? Animals die, several died and were misplaced for your moring breakfast its just a simple fact of life.
No, you are not calling a spade a spade, you are attacking because someone has a differing viewpoint that you do.
You need to step back and remember how many times in the last few days you have accused people of being trolls, or saying they don’t belong here.
As far as getting bent, you seem to be doing a pretty good job of doing that yourself in the last few days..
Join the real world, it is not always going to go your way..
I’ve agreed with a lot of what you’ve said SaveBears but now I am wondering about your motives…..
I am in the middle and look at BOTH sides of an issue, that is what being a biologist IS!
I don’t believe in wanton destruction of any animal, I don’t believe that in this day and age we can allow them to just run around killing..
Humans are part of the this ecosystem now a days and there are going to HAVE to be comprimises…neither side is going to win…
It’s not fun to have your motives questioned is it? You recently just wondered about mine…. can’t you recall?
I recall them quite vividly…I know what my motives are, and will continue to work to a balanced situation…
And yes, I do wonder about your motives, they don’t seem realistic to most of those that actually work in this industry..
That is completely out of line, SB.
Barb – whatever your intentions are, you are all over the place on your posts and even if I agreed with you I would shake my head in wonder.
You being a voice for the pro-wolf folks is about like having Ron Gillette be a voice for the hunting community – just doesn’t make much sense.
What is out of line? One minute you condemn, the next minute you agree!
I honestly believe your motives are on the right side, but your methods leave many of us wondering…
Contrary to what you might think, I am not against you, but I still can’t understand you…
Elkchaser — Really? Well, think what you want but I’ve had numerous letters to the editor published locally, regionally, and nationally on behalf of protecting predatory animals such as wolves.
Barb — Really?? Are you a biologist??
No, I am not; I am in communications. One doesn’t have to be a scientist or biologist to write letters to editors of course. I’ve quoted biologists and scientists findings.
I’ve had over 100 published – at least.
Editors like letters that reflect public sentiment. Influential people like legislators, etc. read letters on line, in magazines, journals, etc. all the time.
Any reason why you ask, Cord?
I didn’t mean to imply that I write letters on behalf of wildlife professionally — I advocate only for personal reasons so it’s unpaid. 🙂 And yes, I write professionally in my “real” job.
That’s really quite impressive. Where might I find one of your published letters to the editor? Another question, do write your letters with the same hysteria as you post on this blog? I hardly think that’s representative of “public sentiment”.
You know how I hate to generalize (isn’t that where this discussion started?) but based on Barb’s posts I would put her firmly in the animal rights camp. This assessment is based on responses such as…
“Habituated animals should always first try to be placed in sanctuaries. Since humans created the problem — repeat …— repeat– humans created the problem — it is humans who need to be responsible and not make the poor defenseless animal pay with its LIFE.” (see above)
Barb, I welcome your contribution, as I don’t think there are many people who post from this perspective on Ralph’s blog. However, like Save Bears, I am baffled by some of the positions you adopt?
I guess this is gang up on Barb day. Is there a question somewhere in there for me JB? Yes, I suppose you could put me in the “animal rights” category. I haven’t really done much activism though on domestic pet issues. I’ve been interested in preventing the persecution of wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, etc. and learn alot from various blogs, etc. Is that baffling for some reason? What exactly is baffling about it?
No, Barb; that much is perfectly clear!
It did not mean to offend you. Let me (attempt to) explain: Wildlife and conservation biology do not concern themselves with individual animals, they are concerned with populations. Thus, controls/killings/removals (or whatever you want to call them) of individual animals are not problematic unless they negatively impact populations.
Consistent with this view, I don’t object to the hunting or control of wildlife to manage populations so long as those population remain healthy. Based on your previous posts, I think its safe to say that you disagree? (I’m not trying to attack you, just clarify your position.)
That’s fine — no offense taken. Maybe this will clarify… if anyone else cares….. I think some would really like to see me fade away real soon!………….
Yes, I do know that wildlife and conservation biology are concerned with the “whole.” I think this is a good thing — it’s necessary. Wildlife management has become too politicized though, where special interests (such as in Alaska) are determining outcomes and really not using science or using it to twist the facts. Alaska knows it gets tons of money from out of state hunters; they want to try to “ensure” there are enough moose and caribou for those hunters to hunt. I think killing certain animals for this reason is extremely unethical and should be illegal.
I have to say I am against lethal measures (especially what I think are barbaric ones like the compound 1080?, traps where animals are held perhaps by a limb or even the head for days, etc. to control populations of animals. If those animals are sick or diseased, then they should be quickly and painlessly euthanized. If populations are “out of control,” I think nature has a way of handling it without man’s interference.
Hunting, although I personally don’t hunt and don’t really like it, is ‘better’ than high production factory farming, as the animal is not living its life confined or in an un-natural state. Hunting for food is acceptable but I don’t agree with trophy hunting. If someone isn’t going to eat it, why kill it.
So, I guess I do have a little different perspective than the typical animal rights person and different than wildlife conservationists. Apparently, this is confusing to some people.
Since when does a “trophy hunter” not eat the meat as you imply above?
I am a trophy hunter, striving for maximum experience and sometimes big horns too. Every animal I have harvested has been used to feed my family and all the hunters I know expect and do exactly the same.
No opposition for hunting it is for the ‘live or die’ survival aspect, heck I know a ‘casual’ deer hunter from The Netherlands who can kill with nothing more than a knife.
The ‘Big horn’ kills are used for bragging rights, though there’s nothing much to feel good about seeing as the animal was shot from far away and therefore its not really that much different from any other killed in the same manner aside from the fact the hunter just defied the natural selection process which means the removal of the weak or elderly animals instead of the strong ones to improve the chances of strong genes being passed through the later generations of the herd, improving it as a whole. The process of prey selection according to the guidelines of natural selection is instinctive to all predator species, meso-predator and apex-predator. Humans too, a meso-predator, have this ability however many choose to ignore it due to the status promotion given by family and peers in having killed a strong creature. The person can easily kill the animal without having to suffer the injuries caused by prey defences and return home safely. In a ‘real life’ survival situation, the creature with the most developed defences would be the one you would strive to avoid.
With the amount of money, time and fuel used to go hunting in first world countries, it hardly seems beneficial to the family budget. Heck some trips cost upwards of three grand (I’ve seen some hunting packages priced at $10,500)… that’s nearly enough to pay for a child’s university entry fees.
To link this back up to the topic, why should an agency be given the rights to remove any animals, that do not do not have as much ‘impact’ on the ecosystem as humans do, solely for the benefit of people who do not consider the consiquences of their own actions?
Excellent points, John d. I have often thought about the impact of hunting for the “best and strongest” (thus removing the strong from the gene pool — weakening it) and the natural predatory animals (not man) normally going after the sick or easiest prey (the weaker).
Of course, that would mean that the majority of hunters achieve getting the strongest animal — I’m not sure that happens often, but what impact does hunting have vs. natural predation….
John & Barb: From your postings, it is obvious that you haven’t hunted, so what exactly makes you an expert about what hunting is all about.
Your arguments above are very easily dismissed.
Matching wits with a mature elk or deer (or others) on their own terms on public land in the unforgiving country they call home is a supreme challenge. In this setting – the animal definitely has the advantage. When all the stars line up and one is blessed with the oppurtunity to harvest one of these animals, it is truly spiritual experience which must be properly honored by utilizing all of the wild, nutritious protein that such an animal provides. All of this happening at near vertical rock and cliff laden slopes at 10,000 + ft with all of your survival gear on your back is not for the weak at heart or mind.
Yes we do occasionally harvest a trophy that is at the top of his game and the best that nature’s gene pool can provide.
However – these same genetically superior animals are not treated kindly by Mother Nature. A mature, dominant male will expand near all of their energy during the rut. After this rut, they are extremely vulnerable to predators and weather. They spend this time isolated, weak, and trying to build up critical fat reserves going into the winter. At these times, they are prime pickings for mtn lions and wolves.
If you don’t believe me, talk to a western wildlife biologist. Last years severe winter in western WY, wiped out near all of the mature mule deer that entered the winter in a weak state from the rut and couldn’t survive the beating that Mother Nature dished out.
Don’t start with the ‘spiritual connections’, ‘cosmos in touch with my soul as I pull the trigger’ and getting into all the emotional waffle, its the adrenaline hormone that gives you that rise before killing the animal which is understandable due to the objective, but nonetheless disturbing if looked at from a psychological viewpoint.
In a ‘real life’ survival situation: there is no survival gear, certainly no shelter, traps or weapons other than the those you can fashion yourself from the surroundings. None of this pussyfooting modern bow or high powered scoped rifle junk – nothing but pure human will to survive. Most of the nutrition you find first is done through foraging for edible vegetation and if you’re hungry enough you’d even eat from the kills of natural predators (once the coast is clear of course) which is far less dangerous than killing anything yourself – except insects, small mammals and reptiles. The folks who go through situations like this do explain their ordeals, fewer are willing to brag about it. That is what separates the killers from the survivors.
As I stated before I understand that some people need to hunt, but there are others who want to hunt and don’t necessarily need to. The latter should not be given the right to say how wildlife should be treated. ‘Managed’, ‘harvested’ these are business terms because hunting no longer is a survival tool as much as it is a big business, thus implying that the wilderness is owned by humanity despite our appalling record as ‘stewards’ and poor efforts to learn from the mistakes and misinterpretations made by our forebears. There is enough for the needs of all, but never enough for the greed of a few.
Amen to both your last two posts!
Elkchaser– I am not and have never claimed to be an expert on hunting. I simply questioned which is more effective at culling the sick or weak — hunting or natural predation. That’s it.
The news just said a Yellowstone Wolf has migrated to Colorado — that’s pretty unbelievable, considering the terrain the animal has to go through and the dangers!
I’m excited but cautious because of the wolf haters but 70% of Coloradoans want wolves here.
Another female wolf from Yellowstone migrated a few years ago and unfortunately was hit by a car on I-70.
anyway… this thread is supposed to be about the killing of Wildlife Services…….
“Don’t start with the ’spiritual connections’, ‘cosmos in touch with my soul as I pull the trigger’ and getting into all the emotional waffle, its the adrenaline hormone that gives you that rise before killing the animal which is understandable due to the objective, but nonetheless disturbing if looked at from a psychological viewpoint.”
Thats bullshit john, you don’t hunt yet you claim to know how hunters think and what process are taken. I don’t claim to know how you think or what feelings go into any action you take, but your more than willing to generalize how I and most fellow hunters think. You know the saddest thing about this is that the best partners for many conservation and ecological projects could be hunters and fishermen but attitudes like yours ruin any possibility of that happening. Instead big corporate interests and other guroups tend to over run us beacuse of infighting!
You have no idea what I’ve seen some hunters do and I am more specific than you give me credit.