Wildlife in America is under siege – not only by climate change but also, in a more sinister capacity, by an agency sanctioned by the USDA.
Wildlife Services (WS), which began as Animal Damage Control, started out killing pests and added predators to its list of targets in 1914. The agency has since expanded its services and has continued killing hundreds of thousands of native animals every year under the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). A series of articles by Tom Knudson that were published in the Sacramento Bee in 2012. revealed many of the problems within the agency.
The agency has been accused of wantonly killing wildlife, including endangered species, using methods that range from using poisons, traps and snares to aerial gunning and employing snipers. It has also been accused of illegal activity, coverups, falsifying reports, injuring people and killing family pets. Employees have been found guilty of horrific and intentional acts of animal cruelty without facing disciplinary actions.
For decades WS has gone unchecked. Biologists question the lack of science behind the killing, conservation organizations file lawsuits to stop the slaughter of wildlife and concerned citizens write letters and sign petitions both pleading and demanding the government find better solutions, all while we, the general public, foot the bill for the rising slaughter.
The USDA’s inspector general will now finally be investigating the agency, following requests from Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and John Campbell (R-Irvine), who are calling for “a complete audit of the culture within Wildlife Services,” reports the LA Times.
Predator Defense is also working to raise awareness and ignite calls for change and will be screening Exposed: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife, a new documentary featuring whistleblowers who have come out in opposition to WS.
Here’s a direct quote from the WS’s website as to its purpose:
“The mission of USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) is to provide Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist. … Program biologists apply the integrated wildlife damage management approach to provide technical assistance and direct management operations in response to requests for assistance. WS NWRC research scientists are dedicated to the development of wildlife damage management methods.”
If the agency’s purpose is truly to “allow people and wildlife to coexist:”, then it seems its management skills need a major overhaul. Killing isn’t management; it’s murder in its truest form. Perhaps federal employees tasked with wildlife management need to go back to school and relearn what it means to properly manage wildlife so that it thrives – and take killing out of the equation.
Filed under: wildlife conservation | Tagged: aerial killing of wildlife, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, animal cruelty, Center for Biological Diversity, conservation, endangered species, Predator Defense, UDSA, USDA APHIS, whistleblowers, wildlife, wildlife management, Wildlife Services, wolves |