Part 2 of a 3 part series: Wildllife Services’ deadly force opens Pandora’s box of environmental problem

This installment of Tom Knudson’s series in the Sacremento Bee investigates the efficacy of USDA Wildlife Services’ predator killing program to benefit wildlife. In short, it doesn’t, it generally causing more harm than good and could be having impacts on disease such as the plague due to the increase of rodents after control actions.

In Nevada, where there is an ongoing push by hunting groups to kill predators to benefit deer, objective analysis is showing that the random killing of coyotes, cougars, and other predators isn’t doing a damned thing to help deer. Yet, the hunting groups are still screaming for coyote killing while ignoring the fact that the habitat for the game species they want is being degraded due to livestock grazing. One recent letter to the editor, written by the president of a hunting group to the Las Vegas Review Journal, bemoans the fact that ravens are now a serious threat to sage grouse nests.  This is a classic byproduct of livestock grazing in arid areas which reduces critical nesting cover for sage grouse and also subsidizes ravens by providing water developments and the carcasses of dead cattle.  Wildlife Services, in response, is conducting an ongoing raven killing program, thereby ignoring the real underlying problem.

Wildllife Services’ deadly force opens Pandora’s box of environmental problems.
Tom Knudson – Sacramento Bee


  1. Jon Way Avatar

    In other forms of government people doing these types of things would go to jail. Yet I bet some WS thugs will try and get Kelly Steward fired from Univ of Nevada for comments made here about this entrenched killing agency.

    I still don’t understand how there are so many animal cruelty laws for pets (dogs) yet people are allowed and we pay thru our tax dollars for people to do worse things to wild animals than what Mike Vick did to dogs. How angering.

    1. louise kane Avatar

      it is appalling. Its the crux of the problem getting people to realize that wild animals deserve protections from cruelty just as their beloved pampered pets do. Its sickening really

  2. jburnham Avatar

    Thanks for the links Ken. These are good articles that I would have otherwise missed.

  3. Frank Renn Avatar
    Frank Renn

    At various times in my life I have been involved in the sport of falconry. To get a permit to have a live raptor you have to jump thru hoops and have special facilities and equipment. It remains one of the only times a law enforcement official can come to your residence at a reasonable time of day and inspect your birds and facilities with out a warrant. Now getting to the point, in 2010 the wildlife services destroyed 758 Red-tailed hawks.

  4. Frank Haviland Avatar
    Frank Haviland

    I think at this point there needs to be a full investigation into this agency. All huntings should be stopped until it is found out why animals that are protected by this agency are being killed in cruel ways with taxpayers money.

  5. louise kane Avatar

    article about working with ranchers in nonlethal methods to curtail livestock losses and to reform 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.

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Ken Cole