Coyote rescued from water at PortMiami euthanized

PORTMIAMI, Fla. (WSVN) – A coyote that was pulled from the water at PortMiami will be euthanized.

The situation began just before 7 a.m. Tuesday when Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews responded to the south side of the port, located at 1015 North America Way, to find the animal stuck between a dock wall and a large buoy.

7SkyForce HD flew over the scene where several crew members could be seen trying to make space between the buoy and the wall so the coyote could be released.

Shortly after, the animal could be seen swimming in the water as crew members worked to lasso it and get it on board the fire boat.

“We had a call for a dog in the water off the Port of Miami. When we arrived to the scene, we found that we could see from the sea wall that there was a four-legged animal down in the water, and he was resting on some type of a ledge,” said Javier Perez with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. “The minute we all came to the edge, we startled him, and he started making his way along the sea wall, and he decided to jump in the water and go for a swim.”

The coyote appeared exhausted after swimming for at least 30 minutes.

“I think he’s resting, and he knows we’re not here to hurt him,” said Perez. “We’re here to help him.”

The coyote was brought on board and appeared to be OK as it sat restrained next to a firefighter.

“We didn’t want him to get into any harm, and we didn’t want any of the boat traffic to cause any harm for him,” said Perez.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials first said the animal would be taken to the Wildlife Rescue of Dade County in Homestead, but later said it will be humanely euthanized instead.

“The reason I was given was that coyotes are considered to be nuisance animals,” said Lloyd Brown of Wildlife Rescue of Miami-Dade County. “In my opinion, the coyotes are native wildlife.”

The director said he spent the morning making room and preparing for the arrival of a new patient.

“We were ready to vaccinate it against parvo, distemper and rabies,” said Brown.

When asked what he would do with the coyote if he had the authority to decide, Brown said, “We’d have the coyote on this table right here taking care of him right now. We’re set up ready to take an animal in. We would have loved to have the opportunity to try and save this guy and put it back in the wild.”

The FWC released an official statement mentioning that the coyote had been euthanized but offered no explanation of why the decision was made. When contacted prior to the release of their statement, they said the determination to euthanize the coyote was a “high level decision.”

Wildlife Services: The Worst of the Worst

Article posted by C.A.S.H. Committee To Abolish Sport Hunting

CLICK HERE for more from CASH COURIER NEWSLETTER, Winter/Spring 2018

By Jim Robertson

bobcat heads
Photo taken by an outraged employee of another government agency. Jim Robertson received permission to use this photograph by Brooks Fahey of Predator Defense. Please visit: 
www.predatordefense.org/USDA.htm

Never in human history has a more self-serving, damaging and persistent lie been perpetuated than the patently false notion that non-human animals lack consciousness. I mean, who came up with the idea, anyway? Some human, no doubt! Thankfully for the animals’ sake, we’ve come far beyond that kind of thinking these days.

Yet, the United States Department of Agriculture’s shadowy take-lethal-action-against-natural-predators-any-time-they-might-even-cast-a-sideways-glance-at-a-farm-animal division, the inaptly named “Wildlife Services,” a government agency that tries to claim science as its moral guide, conveniently ignores modern peer-reviewed studies such as the findings of 16 scientists in the 2014 Convention for Consciousness, which states:

“Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.

And the Delegation for Scientific Expertise takes it a step further, including fish, invertebrates—and those institutionally exploited species whose rights and well-being the agenda-driven humans would rather not have to acknowledge—to the thinking, feeling fold:

“Livestock species, such as poultry, pigs, and sheep, exhibit cognitive behaviors that seem to imply levels and contents of consciousness that until recently were considered exclusive to humans and to some primates. That is even more the case for fish and invertebrates that until recently were not even considered as sentient.”

But like Cartesian vivisectionists of dark ages past, USDA’s Wildlife Services must secretly wish that animals were unconscious so they could carry out their cruelties without protest from struggling victims (or their advocates).

When Wildlife “Services” speaks of animal suffering, it’s with the callous disassociation—indeed, the downright disregard and doublespeak—of the friendly neighborhood psychopath. And like a psychopath, the only reason they “care” about anything or anyone is when they think it affects them somehow. To the agency, wild animals are just resources and the “services” they perform are for the sake of industry—certainly not for the animals themselves:

“Pain and physical restraint can cause stress in animals and the inability of animals to effectively deal with those stressors can lead to distress. Suffering occurs when action is not taken to alleviate conditions that cause pain or distress in animals. Defining pain as a component in humaneness appears to be a greater challenge than that of suffering.”

In the words of Wildlife Watch’s own Anne Muller: “particularly galling is their analysis of ‘suffering’ and ‘pain,’ discussed as though they have a shred of concern for the individual animal or would know the meaning of the words ‘pain and suffering’ in animals at the most superficial level.”

murdered wolf
Photo by Wildlife Services

One group devoted to ending the terrible reign of Wildlife Services is Predator Defense. The following overview and kill data is from their website: “Wildlife Services is a strategically misnamed federal program within the USDA that wastes millions of dollars each year killing wild animals with traps, snares, poisons, gas, and aerial gunning at the request of corporate agriculture and the hunting lobby. According to their official reports, they have slaughtered over 34 million animals in the last decade. Even worse, we’ve had whistleblowers tell us repeatedly that Wildlife Services’ real kill numbers are significantly higher, just not reported.

In 2016 alone they claim to have killed 2.7 million animals, including the following vital native predators:

76,859 coyotes
997 bobcats
410 bears
415 wolves
332 mountain lions”

(For more on the savage escapades of Wildlife Services, watch the film, Exposed, by Predator Defense: www.predatordefense.org/exposed/index.htm)

The late ornithologist and evolutionary biologist, Ernst Mayr, asked at the end of his book, What Evolution Is (one of 25 books on the subject to his name written over his 100 years of life), “How did human consciousness evolve? The answer is actually quite simple: from animal consciousness! There is no justification in the wide-spread assumption that consciousness is a unique human property… It is quite certain that human consciousness did not arise full-fledged with the human species, but as the most highly evolved end point of a long evolutionary history.”

And as Marc Bekoff, PhD, professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, wrote in his column for Psychology Today:

“…sentient nonhuman beings care about what happens to themselves and to family members and friends, and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect for who they are, not what we want them to be. …animals’ lives are valuable because they are alive — they have what is referred to as inherent value — not because of what they can do for us — what is called their instrumental value. It’s about time that we welcome them into our world and the arena of conscious beings.”

Of course, no one in the know and without a self-serving agenda would ever think of checking with the USDA “Wildlife Services” about anything having to do with animal awareness or intelligence—after all, they are in the business of depersonalizing animals so they can justify killing them. But for a government agency that is supposed to be utilizing science, they’re clearly behind the times. You could say their grasp of reality for animals is almost stone-aged.

Speaking of stone-aged thinkers, ironically, sport hunters, trappers and fishermen must “instinctively” know, almost as well as anyone, that animals are aware. Heck, what challenge would there be to their chosen sports if animals couldn’t think for themselves and make an effort to hide or escape? And just think what would happen to the camouflage clothing industry if animals somehow became unthinking, unfeeling robots that did not fear their pursuers.

helicoper hunting
Photo by Wildlife Services

To question whether or not animals are conscious is so absurd that one might wonder if it’s the animal-sentience deniers who lack awareness instead. In a satirical intro to the chapter, “Inside the Hunter’s Mind,” of my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, I turn the argument back on the exploiters themselves: “Hunters were once thought of as automatons: robots programmed to react to stimuli but lacking the ability to think and feel. But radical new studies have tentatively shown them to be capable of grasping simple grammar and the meanings of certain symbols (especially those lit up in neon in front of their favorite tavern or mini-mart).

If an attempt at humor seems out of place, consider this, the subject matter is so grim, gruesome or ghastly, that only a sport hunter and/or Wildlife Services agent would want to dwell there, mentally, for more than a fleeting moment or two. Now, not all hunters or trappers have jobs with the USDA Wildlife Services, but you can bet your bottom dollar that nearly all Wildlife Services agents are sport hunters and trappers in their spare time, in addition to being poisoners and aerial gunners when they’re on the clock.

Those in the Wildlife Services are clearly the worst of the worst. If you ever slip up and find yourself pitying some of these people whom you might hear about being lost in a plane crash or a rollover accident on a gravel back road, remember, they are the ones who aerial shoot, snare, trap, poison, etc. countless coyotes, bears, foxes, bobcats, wolves, cougars, etc., etc. Talk about unconscious, Wildlife Services must lack something else non-human animals have proven to posses: feelings like guilt, remorse or empathy for others—a conscience.


Jim Robertson is the President of C.A.S.H. and author of Exposing The Big Game.

CLICK HERE for more from CASH COURIER NEWSLETTER, Winter/Spring 2018

Family’s Dog Was Just Killed By This Tool — And The U.S. Government Put It There

https://www.thedodo.com/usda-m44-kills-idaho-dog-2322197701.html

“It took my dog’s life — and it could have taken my son’s.”

A boy and his dog, Casey, were taking a walk near their home in Pocatello, Idaho, on March 16 when the unthinkable happened.

The boy, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield, noticed something sticking about half a foot out of the ground. When he touched it, there was a pop and a “siss” and orange powder shot out.

Canyon jumped back in shock. When he looked for his loyal dog, Casey, he saw him on the ground.

Casey, a 3-year-old dog who was killed by a cyanide device set out by the USDATheresa Mansfield

“He just stayed on the ground mumbling,” Canyon told the Iowa State Journal. “I thought he was playing with his toy, but I saw the toy a couple yards away from him … So, I called him again and got really scared.”

Canyon rushed toward him and held him, seeing something was terribly wrong. “[I] saw this red froth coming from his mouth and his eyes turning glassy,” he said.

He ran down the hill for help and, when he and his parents returned a few minutes later, Casey was dead.

Later the family would discover that their 3-year-old dog had been poisoned by an M44, a cyanide trap that is set out by the U.S. government to kill coyotes, luring them through scented bait.

“M44s are incredibly dangerous by nature of what they are,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, a nonprofit based in Eugene, Oregon, told The Dodo. “They put a scent lurer — like urine from a coyote in her heat cycle or another smell that makes the animal want to grasp the M44 head — and any coyotes, wolves, are attracted to it. They pull on it and that’s when it goes off.”

Casey and Canyon Mansfield were best friends.Theresa Mansfield

“With children and people — they are curious,” Fahy cautioned. “It’s like putting a loaded handgun on a table.”

Casey is among the latest victims of the thousands of animals unintentionally killed by Wildlife Services, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that kills millions of wild animals each year to make more room for human industries like raising livestock. Over 3,400 animals were mistakenly killed by M44s between 2006 and 2012, including black bears, bobcats, raccoons, opossums, ravens and foxes, as well as dogs — and that’s just what the agency has reported. Fahy suspects the actual number is even higher.

Cyanide poisoning strangles cells, making it impossible for them to absorb oxygen, essentially suffocating any animal — intended or unintended — to death.

There was little time to grieve Casey at the moment he died — Canyon had to save his own life. His father, a physician, and his mother had him take off his clothes, which were covered in orange powder. He was rushed to the emergency room for tests. Thankfully, the family believes Canyon was upwind from the poison powder. He’s alive, but he’s traumatized.

“My son Canyon, who witnessed it all, is really struggling with what happened,” Theresa Mansfield told The Dodo. “It was above our house. It makes me not feel safe. I feel like I had terrorism in my own backyard, with my own government.”

The spot where the M44 was planted and where Canyon would often take Casey for walksTheresa Mansfield

The Mansfield family had no idea the devices where there, just about 350 yards from their home, at the edge of their property line. And they weren’t the only ones — even the county sheriff didn’t have knowledge of these devices, or just how dangerous they are. The Mansfields say there also weren’t even any warning signs and they were never notified about the presence of the M44s. It was later reported that two M44s, including the one that killed Casey, were planted in this area near the Mansfield’s house on February 25.

“APHIS’ Wildlife Services confirms the unintentional lethal take of a dog in Idaho,” a spokesperson for the USDA said in a statement last week. “As a program made up of individual employees many of whom are pet owners, Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses.”

The agency claims it has removed the other M44s in “that immediate area,” while conducting a review of the incident.

When The Dodo asked whether the USDA would issue an apology to the family, a spokesperson replied: “We are concerned about the individual who may have been exposed to sodium cyanide when his dog activated the M44 device. Initial reports indicated he was examined at a local hospital and released with no symptoms, and we are hopeful those reports are true. We will consider this possible exposure very seriously as we conduct a thorough review of this incident.”

“It’s something so close to my house, and it took my dog’s life,” Theresa said. “And it could have taken my son’s.” Now Theresa is hoping that their story will help make the M44s illegal. “It’s a brutal way of killing something.”

The M44 device that killed CaseyTheresa Mansfield

While the Mansfield family has only just learned, in the hardest way, about these devices, some people have been fighting to ban M44s for years. And a mere investigation into this latest incident simply isn’t sufficient, they say.

“This is another demonstration of what we’ve been saying for decades — the dangers of M44s are essentially landmines waiting to go off for a dog, endangered species or a child,” Fahy said. He estimates that hundreds, even thousands, of dogs have been killed by these devices. “This happens all the time.”

U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced a bill in the past seeking to make these devices illegal — and it’s expected, given the recent slew of accidental deaths, that he’ll keep trying. “I have been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of devices like the M44 for decades,” DeFazio said in a statement recently. “The use of this device by Wildlife Services … has previously killed domestic dogs, and sooner or later, will kill a child.”

An old photo of Casey leaning in for a hug from his favorite boyTheresa Mansfield

While the USDA claims that a dog dying from an M44 is a relatively rare occurrence — the last time an animal in Idaho died from an M44 accidentally was in 2014 — there’s doubt that the supposed benefits outweigh the risks, especially since killing predators to control populations doesn’t necessarily even work.

“M44s are a terrible device for killing coyotes by cyanide poisoning, which is a nasty and sickening way to die,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Dodo recently, after a rare wolf in Oregon was killed by the device. “They should be banned both because they are indiscriminate, killing this wolf as well as often pets and animals, and because killing coyotes in this and other manners is totally ineffective.”

Last year alone, Wildlife Services intentionally killed 76,859 coyotes; 12,511 were killed by M44s. That’s an average of 34 M44s intentionally exploding per day. At least seven pets or livestock were killed by M44s last year, though the USDA doesn’t specify what kinds of animals they were. Twenty-two dogs the agency claims were “feral, free-ranging and hybrids” were also killed.

Another example of what an M44 planted in the ground looks likePredator DefenseJust days before Casey was killed, two other pet dogs were also killed by an M44 in Wyoming on March 11, though the USDA claims this was not one of their own devices. In either case, Fahey says the tools should be banned. “Bottom line, this device needs to go — immediately,” Fahy said.

Until the device is banned, others remain at risk, and the Mansfield family is trying to cope with their loss any way they can. The clothing Canyon was wearing when the M44 exploded is still in a bag outside their house, a constant reminder.

“We’re not coping very well. We’ve been really sad,” Theresa said, adding that she blames the USDA for not taking full responsibility for just how dangerous M44s essentially are. “I feel like they don’t care about that it’s a bomb and they’re probably worried about being in trouble, but they’re not willing to change that these things are bombs. They could hurt kids and little dogs. And there’s no explanation. That’s the thing that’s hard.”

Predator Defense“Our Casey was so important,” Theresa said. “He was everyone’s dog, he was my little boy’s best friend, my daughter’s running buddy.”

“I think in a way, you just feel violated,” she added. “We didn’t even know anything like that existed.”

Casey and Canyon’s dad. The dog was well-loved by the whole Mansfield family.Theresa Mansfield

To help protect pets and wildlife from these poisonous tools, you can contact your representatives to support legislation to ban these devices. You can also donate to Predator Defense.

USDACorrection: This article has been updated to reflect that bait on M44s can be many different attractants, not just the urine mixture.

Counties seek predator bounties as Wildlife Services funding drops

http://www.montanaotg.com/blog-native/2016/9/26/counties-seek-predator-bounties

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Wildlife Services helps Montana livestock producers kill thousands of wild predators every year. But as its funding decreases, the agency may have to leave producers to their own devices, which may include bounties.

On Friday, John Steuber, Montana State Director of Wildlife Services, told the Montana Board of Livestock that Wildlife Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, couldn’t continue killing predators without the money it gets from the state, especially from cattle producers who pitch in 50 cents to a dollar per head.

“Where we stand right now, with the decrease in federal appropriations and the decrease in per capita funds, we don’t have enough money to cover our federal salaries. So we rely extremely heavily on cattle petitions. Without cattle petitions, we would be furloughing employees,” Steuber said. “This right here is the only thing keeping the program going.”

Steuber told the board members that Wildlife Services hasn’t been able to kill as many predators in recent years because his annual budget is shrinking with continuing federal and state budget cuts and the decline in Montana sheep herds.

Out of Steuber’s $2.9 million budget for Montana predator control, the federal government still pays the most: more than $1.6 million. But that’s less than the more than $2 million that he got before 2011. In 2011, Congress got rid of earmarked money, which dropped the federal contribution to $1.77 million. In 2013, Steuber’s funding took another hit when Congress couldn’t pass a budget, so the government had to shut down for a few weeks, and then the sequester was put in place.

So Steuber increasingly depends on state contributions, which includes almost $300,000 from Board of Livestock appropriations.

Contributions from woolgrowers no longer help much because the number of sheep in Montana has dropped by half since 1997. Back then, producers paid more than $154,000 to protect almost 270,000 sheep. Now, they contribute about $86,000.

Cattle have managed to offset that loss. The number of cattle in cooperating counties has doubled since 2005 to more than a million, so cattle petitions collected by the Montana Stockgrowers Association amounted to more than $529,000 in 2016.

The problem for Wildlife Services is that not every county cooperates in cattle petitions. Because petition funds can amount to between $15,000 and $30,000 annually, depending on the number of cows, some counties decide to put the money elsewhere. Only 28 counties contribute money. The rest either don’t have a petition program or won’t cooperate, like Carter and Powder River counties. Granite Country recently voted to pull out of the cooperative program.

Steuber said he won’t spend money to fill the Wildlife Services hunter/trapper positions in counties that won’t cooperate.

“It’s not fair to those counties supporting Wildlife Services,” Steuber said.

Petroleum County has withheld some of its cattle petition money for a number of years to pay bounty hunters to get rid of coyotes. But recently country commissioners learned that wasn’t legal, said WS District Supervisor Kraig Glazier. So the Montana Association of Counties is considering sponsoring a bill to allow counties to pay bounty hunters with petition money. Livestock Loss supervisor George Edwards said they also wanted to update the law regarding bounties on wolves.

Steubers said bounties are preferred when people want to exterminate predators whether livestock are a concern or not.

“There’s two different thoughts. Wildlife Services believes in reducing damage. We don’t go out there just to count how many coyotes we can kill,” Steubers said. “Most counties have gone away from bounties, and most states have gone away from bounties.”

Board member John Sculley pointed out that allowing counties to siphon off cattle-petition money could further reduce Wildlife Services’ funding and statewide predator control efforts. It could set a precedent not only for predators but other livestock issues, Sculley said.

“I can’t help but think about brucellosis. If I fast forward five to six years, I’ll bet brucellosisis still out there. and I’ll bet it’s removed from the USDA (list), and I’ll bet the money is removed at that level. And I’ll bet cattle petitions are going to have to deal with funding brucellosis recovery programs at the local level and we’ll be right back in this swamp,” Sculley said

Board member Brett DeBruycker objected the bill’s broad wording related to all counties when only Petroleum County is pushing for bounties.

“Do we really believe that would pass a legislative vote? If it did or didn’t, just to have this come up the way it’s worded, do you really think this helps your cause? Because I don’t,” DeBruycker said.

Steuber might be pinching pennies, but Wildlife Services is still killing plenty of animals.

Steuber said coyotes cause the most livestock damage of any predator, by far. His agency claims that in 2015, coyotes killed almost 1,500 lambs, 212 calves and 240 chickens in Montana. So in 2015, Wildlife Services employees killed 6,600 coyotes, shooting about half of those using helicopters. They also shot black bears and mountain lions believed to have been involved in livestock damage.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks pays Wildlife Services $110,000 a year to deal with problem wolves. In 2015, WS killed 31 wolves, but that was fewer than in previous years, Steuber said.

“Wolf depredations are down. We removed 151 wolves in 2010, and the total ahs dropped since then. It might have something to do with the effective hunting and trapping season,” Steuber said.

As the Montana wolf population has stabilized, grizzly bears are increasingly moving out of the mountains and parks onto the central and eastern plains. In 2011, Wildlife Services employees investigated 28 possible bear kills. Four years later, that had climbed to 88 investigations, and Wildlife Services claims that grizzly bears killed 25 adult cattle, 53 calves, 33 sheep and 32 lambs. Since the number of grizzly bear reports has increased, the Livestock Loss Board just signed an agreement to pay $82,000 for Wildlife Services to investigate possible grizzly bear kills in 2017. For now, Wildlife Services can’t kill grizzly bears because they still have endangered species protection, so problem bears are transferred to a different location.

Wildlife Services’ — AKA Murder, Inc.’s — Unregulated Killing Fields: The Body Count of this Killing Agency is Sickeningly Reprehensible

by Marc Bekoff

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/wildlife-services-aka-murder-incs-unregulated_us_57de8514e4b0d5920b5b2de5?timestamp=1474205510303

“Wildlife Services is one of the most opaque and least accountable agencies I know of. It is not capable of reforming itself. They need a mandate for reform… it’s going to have to be imposed on them.” REP. PETER DEFAZIO, Senior U.S. Congressman (D-OR)

A recent essay in the New York Times by Richard Conniff called “America’s Wildlife Body Count” is a must read for anyone interested in the ways in which Wildlife Services, AKA Murder, Inc., conducts business as usual. It is simply amazing how those who work for Wildlife Services get away with killing millions upon millions of nonhuman animals (animals) “in the name of coexistence and conservation” using brutal and sickening methods including poisoning, trapping, snaring, and shooting, even from airplanes. And, of course, non-target animals, including people’s pets, are also part of the carnage.

You can learn more about Wildlife Services’ killing ways in a short film called EXPOSED: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife at the website for Predator Defense. Mr. Conniff’s essay is a nice, but depressing, follow-up, to a recent essay of mine called “The Wars on Wolves, Cats, and Other Animals: It’s Time to Forever Close Down the Killing Fields” (please also see “The Psychology of Killing Wolves, Cats, and other Animals” about people who say they love animals and then support killing them). I know many people simply do not believe what they hear about Wildlife Services and their and others’ unrelenting wars on wildlife, but the facts speak for themselves, and we need to put them all out of business as soon as possible.

Predators are not the leading cause of livestock deaths and killing them doesn’t work

Mr. Conniff’s essay is available online so below are a few facts and snippets to whet your appetite for more, although the body count for which Wildlife Services is responsible will make you ill. He provides a concise review of a recent peer reviewed research paper by the University of Wisconsin’s Dr. Adrian Treves and his colleagues called “Predator control should not be a shot in the dark.” The abstract for this landmark study that analyses if predator control actually works — it clearly does not — reads as follows:

Livestock owners traditionally use various non-lethal and lethal methods to protect their domestic animals from wild predators. However, many of these methods are implemented without first considering experimental evidence of their effectiveness in mitigating predation-related threats or avoiding ecological degradation. To inform future policy and research on predators, we systematically evaluated evidence for interventions against carnivore (canid, felid, and ursid) predation on livestock in North American and European farms. We also reviewed a selection of tests from other continents to help assess the global generality of our findings. Twelve published tests – representing five non-lethal methods and 7 lethal methods – met the accepted standard of scientific inference (random assignment or quasi-experimental case-control) without bias in sampling, treatment, measurement, or reporting. Of those twelve, prevention of livestock predation was demonstrated in six tests (four non-lethal and two lethal), whereas counterintuitive increases in predation were shown in two tests (zero non-lethal and two lethal); the remaining four (one non-lethal and three lethal) showed no effect on predation. Only two non-lethal methods (one associated with livestock-guarding dogs and the other with a visual deterrent termed “fladry”) assigned treatments randomly, provided reliable inference, and demonstrated preventive effects. We recommend that policy makers suspend predator control efforts that lack evidence for functional effectiveness and that scientists focus on stringent standards of evidence in tests of predator control.

Mr. Conniff begins:

Until recently, I had never had any dealings with Wildlife Services, a century-old agency of the United States Department of Agriculture with a reputation for strong-arm tactics and secrecy. It is beloved by many farmers and ranchers and hated in equal measure by conservationists, for the same basic reason: It routinely kills predators and an astounding assortment of other animals — 3.2 million of them last year — because ranchers and farmers regard them as pests.

Referring to Dr. Treves’ study Mr. Conniff notes:

To find out, the researchers reviewed scientific studies of predator control regimens — some lethal, some not — over the past 40 years. The results were alarming. Of the roughly 100 studies surveyed, only two met the “gold standard” for scientific evidence. That is, they conducted randomized controlled trials and took precautions to avoid bias. Each found that nonlethal methods (like guard dogs, fences and warning flags) could be effective at deterring predators.

Note that only around 2% of the studies presented solid scientific evidence about the question at hand. Would you get out of bed if you only had a 2% chance of making it through the day?

Wildlife Services pretty much does whatever they want to do as if they’re the only show in town, and a horrific show it is. When Mr. Conniff tried to get Wildlife Services to respond to queries they were not very cooperative. He writes, “I’ve had better luck getting access at the C.I.A.”

Others also have noted that Wildlife Services gets away with doing what they do with no oversight whatsoever. They just continue killing millions of animals “in the name of coexistence and conservation,” as if the animals were disposable garbage. Indeed, at a talk I heard last year, someone working for Wildlife Services claimed they were “heroes” for the people they served. Many in the audience were incredulous and sighed deeply, as if asking, “Are you kidding?”

Some more facts are worth quoting about Wildlife Services unrelenting egregious and lethal war on wildlife. Mr. Conniff asks:

But why were different species killed, or where? Your guess is as good as mine — and not just about the predators but about the agency’s decision to kill 17 sandhill cranes last year, or 150 blue-winged teal ducks, or 4,927 cattle egrets. Before killing 708,487 red-winged blackbirds that year, did anyone weigh the damage they do to ripening corn and other crops against the benefit they provide by feeding on corn earworms and other harmful insects? Is the scientific support for killing 20,777 prairie dogs (on which the survival of species like the burrowing owl and the black-footed ferret depend), better than that for killing predators?

Mr. Conniff concludes:

In their study, Dr. Treves and his co-authors urge the appointment of an independent panel to conduct a rigorous large-scale scientific experiment on predator control methods. They also recommended that the government put the burden of proof on the killers and suspend predator control programs that are not supported by good science. For Wildlife Services, after a century of unregulated slaughter of America’s native species, this could be the moment to set down the weapons, step out of the way, and let ranchers and scientists together figure out the best way for predators and livestock to coexist.

Please do something to put Wildlife Services out of business once and for all

“Poisons banned since the 1970s, that the official record said didn’t exist, were being bought from the Wyoming Dept. of Ag. to sell to ranchers and predator boards.” REX SHADDOX, Former Wildlife Services trapper & special investigator for Wyoming Sting operation 

Please read Mr. Conniff’s essay and contact members of congress and ask them to put Wildlife Services out of business once and for all. Your money is supporting their murderous ways. To wit, Mr. Conniff notes that taxpayers spent $127 million in 2014 to allow Wildlife Services to continue brutally killing other animals with no transparency at all. That’s a lot of money that could be used to foster coexistence in non-lethal and humane ways, an idea that obviously is totally foreign to Wildlife Services. The rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of compassionate conservation(please also see “Compassionate Conservation: More than ‘Welfarism Gone Wild,’” “Compassionate Conservation Meets Cecil the Slain Lion,” and the website for The Centre for Compassionate Conservation) could surely come to rescue of the millions of animals who are wantonly and brutally killed each and every year.

As a reminder of the urgency of putting Wildlife Services out of business, I end with the quote with which I began:

“Wildlife Services is one of the most opaque and least accountable agencies I know of. It is not capable of reforming itself. They need a mandate for reform… it’s going to have to be imposed on them.” REP. PETER DEFAZIO, Senior U.S. Congressman (D-OR)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/wildlife-services-aka-murder-incs-unregulated_us_57de8514e4b0d5920b5b2de5?timestamp=1474205510303

America’s Wildlife Body Count

Until recently, I had never had any dealings with Wildlife Services, a century-old agency of the United States Department of Agriculture with a reputation for strong-arm tactics and secrecy. It is beloved by many farmers and ranchers and hated in equal measure by conservationists, for the same basic reason: It routinely kills predators and an astounding assortment of other animals — 3.2 million of them last year — because ranchers and farmers regard them as pests.

To be clear, Wildlife Services is a separate entity, in a different federal agency, from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, whose main goal is wildlife conservation. Wildlife Services is interested in control — ostensibly, “to allow people and wildlife to coexist.”

My own mildly surreal acquaintance with its methods began as a result of a study, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, under the title “Predator Control Should Not Be a Shot in the Dark.” Adrian Treves of the University of Wisconsin and his co-authors set out to answer a seemingly simple question: Does the practice of predator control to protect our livestock actually work?

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/opinion/sunday/americas-wildlife-body-count.html?_r=2

Death Toll Update

PETITION UPDATE

Peace for Geese Project

AUG 16, 2016 — Wildlife Services killed 578 geese in King County and 287 on Lake Washington in 2015. Shooting has become their preferred method of killing, but they also conducted two round-ups on Lake Washington where they gassed to death geese and their goslings. The numbers for 2016 will not be available until next year.

In a report to members of the Interlocal Agreement, Wildlife Services stated that they hazed and harassed 3,892 geese in King County. The techniques used included “working dogs, boats, paintballs, and firearms.”

In a decreasing trend, egg addling dropped to just 292 eggs. Clearly, egg addling is not a priority. It is obviously much easier to shoot geese or round them up and gas them instead of addling eggs to prevent their development.

Exact details concerning Wildlife Services killing in the Puget Sound area and Washington State Parks continues to be either non-existent or sketchy at best.

The report also stated “2015 represented the 29th year of Urban Waterfowl Management efforts in the greater Seattle area.” In a vicious cycle of killing, year after year, geese continue to be killed in our parks. And of course, few if any members of the Interlocal Agreement will take any responsibility for the killing. They seem to think that they are not responsible for the killing even though they have all collectively paid for it under the agreement.

Members of the 2015 agreement included: Washington State Parks, Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Kirkland, Mountlake Terrace, Renton, SeaTac, Woodinville, Port of Seattle – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Tacoma MetroParks, Tukwila, and the University of Washington.

Data released by the United States Department of Agriculture shows that Wildlife Services destroyed over 2.7 million animals in 2014. It is time to stop the war on wildlife!

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Death Toll: 3.2 Million Animals Killed by Wildlife Services in 2015

3.2 Million Animals Killed by Wildlife Services in 2015

FoxThe newest tallies from America’s secretive wildlife-killing program are in, and they’re grim. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services says it killed more than 3.2 million animals during fiscal year 2015. That’s about a half-million more animals than the program killed the previous year.

Despite increasing calls for reform, Wildlife Services’ reckless slaughter continues, last year wiping out 385 gray wolves, 68,905 coyotes, 480 black bears, 284 mountain lions, 731 bobcats, 492 river otters, 3,437 foxes and 21,559 beavers.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been leading the charge to reform this rogue program, which often does its killing at the behest of the agricultural industry and other powerful interests.

“There’s simply no scientific basis for continuing to shoot, poison and strangle millions of animals every year — a cruel practice that not only fails to effectively manage targeted wildlife but poses an ongoing threat to other animals, including pets,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson.

Read more in our press release and consider donating to our Stop Wildlife Services Fund.


The Endangered Species Act: Making Birds Great Again

Making Birds Great AgainA groundbreaking Center analysis has uncovered excellent news: 85 percent of continental U.S. birds protected under the Endangered Species Act have increased or stabilized their population size since being protected. The average population increase was 624 percent.

The study, the first of its kind, examined year-by-year population sizes of all 120 bird species ever protected by the Endangered Species Act. Recovering species include California condors in California and Arizona (up 391 percent since 1968), whooping cranes in the central United States (up 923 percent since 1967), wood storks in the Southeast (up 61 percent since 1984), Kirtland’s warblers in the Great Lakes (up 1,077 percent since 1971), California least terns (up 1,835 percent since 1970) and Puerto Rican parrots (up 354 percent since 1967).

“The Endangered Species Act has been spectacularly successful for America’s most imperiled birds,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, the Center’s endangered species recovery director. “From plovers on the East Coast to warblers in the Great Lakes, terns in the Midwest, falcons in Texas, bald eagles in the Rocky Mountains and towhees in California, the Act has rapidly and dramatically increased bird population sizes and put these birds on the road to full recovery.”

Check out our press release and interactive website.


Help Sought for Pacific Bluefin Tuna as Population Plummets

Bluefin tunaPacific bluefin tuna — majestic, warm-blooded ocean predators being dangerously overfished for the high-end sushi market — have sunk to frighteningly low population levels, so on Monday the Center and allies petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect the fish under the Endangered Species Act. Pacific bluefin have declined more than 97 percent since commercial fishing began.

Intensifying the concern surrounding the tuna’s drastic population drop, almost all Pacific bluefin tuna harvested today are caught before they can reproduce. In 2014 their population produced the second-lowest number of young fish seen since 1952. Without young fish to mature into spawning stock and replace the aging adults, the future is dark for Pacific bluefin.

“If these fish don’t get help soon, we may see the last Pacific bluefin tuna sold off and the species lost for good,” said the Center’s Catherine Kilduff. “Fisheries management has failed to keep them off the path to extinction.”

Read more in our press release.


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Rare California Salamander Wins Recovery Plan

California tiger salamanderThanks to a suit by the Center, rare, beautiful California tiger salamanders in Sonoma County won a final recovery plan Monday to aid their survival — and eventual recovery and removal from the endangered species list. The plan includes a call to purchase and permanently protect about 15,000 acres of the salamander’s breeding ponds and adjacent uplands.

Although Sonoma County’s tiger salamanders have been protected as “endangered” for more than a decade, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hadn’t developed a recovery plan to guide management of the species — so in 2012 the Center sued, and the lawsuit’s settlement resulted in this week’s victory. The plan focuses on fighting major threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation by protecting breeding ponds and adjacent uplands; it also calls for reducing risks from non-native predators, roads, contaminants and disease.

“This plan gives us hope for one of our most imperiled salamanders,” said the Center’s Jenny Loda.

Read more in The Press Democrat.


$10,000 Reward Offered Over Wolf Pups Killed in Idaho

Gray wolf pupThe Center is pledging a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for illegally killing wolf pups after removing them from their den in north Idaho’s Kootenai County, about 15 miles outside the city of Coeur d’Alene.

The pledge, along with an undisclosed reward offered by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, comes as Idaho officials are seeking leads in their criminal investigation of the poaching, which likely occurred the week of May 16, officials said.

“Pulling young wolf pups from their den and killing them is repulsive,” said Center attorney Andrea Santarsiere. “Coming on the heels of a protected grizzly bear being killed last month, it’s a stark reminder that Idaho’s still-recovering populations of big carnivores are under constant threat from poachers.”

Fish and Game officers are asking anyone with information about the incident to call the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline, (800) 632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous.

Learn more from Oregon Public Broadcasting.


U.S. Pet Trade Annually Imports 6 Million Fish Exposed to Cyanide

Poisoned WatersA new analysis by the Center and For the Fishes finds that 6 million tropical marine fish imported into the United States each year for the pet trade have been exposed to cyanide poisoning. The findings coincide with the release of Disney/Pixar’s movie Finding Dory, which is likely to fuel a rapid increase in the sale of tropical reef fish in the United States, including royal blue tangs like Dory.

To catch fish with cyanide, crushed cyanide tablets are placed in squirt bottles filled with seawater. The dissolved cyanide is then sprayed directly onto the reefs near the targeted fish to stun the fish and make it easier to scoop them up. Sadly as much as 50 percent of all nearby fish are killed on contact, as well as nearby corals.

The Center and allies have called on the Obama administration to ban aquarium fish caught using cyanide.

 


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Living on Earth: The Future of Glyphosate — Listen Now

Monarch caterpillarThe future of glyphosate, more commonly known as the herbicide Roundup, is at a critical crossroad. Last year the World Health Organization’s cancer-research arm found that the chemical is probably a human carcinogen; soon afterward California’s Environmental Protection Agency announced it would list glyphosate as being known to cause cancer.

There’s also a growing grassroots movement to rein in Roundup use across the United States. Not only does it threaten human health — it puts wildlife at risk too. Studies have pointed to glyphosate as one of the leading causes of decline in monarch butterflies because it destroys milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s sole food source.

The radio program Living on Earth tackled this issue last week, interviewing the Center’s Dr. Nate Donley. Listen to the story now.


Charity Navigator Awards Four-star Rating to Center

Charity NavigatorThe Center just got a new four-star rating (the highest score possible, in case you didn’t know) from renowned nonprofit evaluator Charity Navigator. That means we’re deemed one of the most financially efficient organizations out there — probably because we funnel as much of our funding as possible, more than 83 percent, straight into saving species and lands, instead of using it up for administration, advertising and marketing gimmicks.

Yep, the precious money we receive (including from our supporters — thank you!) goes to protect polar bears, wolves and birds, not to mail out plush-toy versions of them.

We’re proud of our rating and hope you are too.


Wild & Weird: Puffballs Reproduce With Raindrops — Watch Video

PuffballsCommon store-bought mushrooms — the portobello, for instance — have open, umbrella-like caps with spore-bearing gills on the underside. Puffballs, however, produce all their spores within an enclosed, spheroidal fruiting body. For puffball spores to be released, the fruiting body must be ruptured. This is often accomplished by the impact of raindrops, which push out puffy brown clouds — millions of tiny spores — that disperse from the parent fungus into the wind and off into the wider world.

Check out our video with real-time and time-lapse imagery of puffballs fruiting and rupturing in the rain.

Conservationists deal blow to Wildlife Services in landmark WA wolf case

http://yubanet.com/usa/Conservationists-deal-blow-to-Wildlife-Services-in-landmark-WA-wolf-case.php#.VoiWcTZdG1s

By: Cascadia Wildlands

OLYMPIA, Wash. December 21, 2015 – In response to a challenge brought by a coalition of conservation organizations, a federal court rejected plans to escalate cruel wolf killing in Washington state by the secretive federal program dubbed “Wildlife Services.” Federal District Judge Robert Bryan held that Wildlife Services should have prepared a more in-depth environmental analysis of the impacts of its proposed wolf killing activities, finding the program’s cursory environmental assessment faulty because the proposed actions would have significant cumulative impacts that are highly controversial and highly uncertain.

Wildlife Services is a controversial program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service responsible for killing millions of wild animals every year, including wolves, grizzly bears, otters, foxes, coyotes and birds, with almost no oversight or accountability.

Judge Bryan vacated the program’s analysis, stating “Wildlife Services shall not take any further wolf management actions in Washington under the proposed action alternative, but shall observe the status quo in place prior to the environmental assessment and [finding of no significant impact].”

“Wildlife Services has long asserted that it need not comply with our nations’ federal environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, but this decision rejects those arguments and requires Wildlife Services to comply with all federal laws, not just those it finds convenient to comply with,” said Western Environmental Law Center Attorney John Mellgren.

A 2013 internal audit revealed that Wildlife Services’ accounting practices lacked transparency and violated state and federal laws. The program employs incredibly cruel tools to kill wildlife including aerial gunning, leghold traps, snares and poisons.

“It is long past time that we base wildlife management decisions on the best available science, not on antiquated anti-wolf rhetoric and myth,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “Wildlife Services needs to come out of the shadows, update its analyses and adopt practices in keeping with modern science and values about the ethical treatment of animals.”

The environmental assessment prepared by Wildlife Services failed to provide data to support several of its core assertions. For example, Wildlife Services claimed that killing wolves reduced wolf-caused losses of livestock, yet recent peer-reviewed research from Washington State University directly contradicts this conclusion, finding that killing wolves actually leads to an increase in wolf-livestock conflicts. The environmental assessment also fails to address the ecological effects of killing wolves in Washington, including impacts on wolf populations in neighboring states and on non-target animals, including federally protected grizzly bears and Canada lynx.

“This decision is so incredibly encouraging,” said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands. “We have been working for over a decade to hold Wildlife Services accountable for its blind, reckless lethal control programs. This decision paves the way for meaningful analysis of the program’s impacts and hopefully a meaningful look at whether or not this wolf killing is worth it.”

Washington has experienced Wildlife Services’ wolf killing program firsthand. In August 2014, Wildlife Services snipers shot and killed the Huckleberry wolf pack’s alpha female during a helicopter gunning operation. The death of the Huckleberry pack’s breeding female threatens the future of the entire pack.

Wildlife Services also “advised” the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in the contentious 2012 killing of Washington’s Wedge wolf pack. In that instance, WDFW killed seven wolves after predation of livestock on public lands, despite the rancher’s failure to take sufficient action to protect his cattle.

“The Court made a wise and prudent decision that safeguards the legal right of citizens to know what their government is doing in their name,” said Timothy Coleman, executive director of Kettle Range Conservation Group. “The so-called Wildlife Services cannot just grant itself authority to execute an endangered species absent the public interest or best available science.”

Wolves were driven to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. The species began to return to Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s and the wolf population in the state has grown to 13 confirmed packs. Despite this growth, wolves in the state are far from recovered and face ongoing threats. According to WDFW, Washington currently has at least 68 wolves in 16 packs.

The organizations, Cascadia Wildlands, WildEarth Guardians, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Predator Defense and the Lands Council were represented by the Western Environmental Law Center.

copyrighted wolf in water

The battle over predators

http://registerguard.com/rg/opinion/33883683-78/the-battle-over-predators.html.csp

Editorial — Eugene, Oregon paper

A federal judge has delivered a sharp rebuke to a controversial federal agency that planned to increase killing of wolves in Washington state, ordering it to put its plans on hold.

But the court decision does little to deal with ongoing complaints of needless slaughter and cruelty to animals by Wildlife Services employees or to pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding many of the agency’s activities.

Wildlife Services is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which describes it as a “predator damage management program” whose mission is to “provide federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.”

Critics describe it as a secretive, out-of-control agency that kills millions of animals a year, often at the behest of ranchers, without proof that the killing is necessary or useful.

In the last fiscal year, for example, Wildlife Services killed 323 gray timber wolves, almost 62,000 coyotes, 580 black bears, almost 2,600 mallards, 635 great blue herons and five golden eagles. The eagles were an accident, Wildlife Services said, as were two of the herons and 10 of the bears.

When the agency planned to increase wolf kills in Washington, a coalition of conservation agencies — including Cascadia Wildlands and Predator Defense, both based in Eugene — filed suit in March.

They alleged the agency was violating federal law by, among other things, not preparing a required Environmental Impact Statement.

This week, District Judge Robert Ryan agreed, ruling that “Wildlife Services acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in failing to do an EIS.

Ryan also criticized Wildlife Services for downplaying public concern and controversy surrounding the plan and failing to address ecological impacts. And he noted there is disagreement in the scientific community about whether killing more wolves has any impact on livestock deaths.

Environmentalists greeted the ruling with joy — “Wildlife Services has long asserted that it need not comply with our nation’s federal environmental laws … but this decision rejects those arguments,” said attorney John Mellgren, of the Eugene-based Western Environmental Law Center, which represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

But going forward it’s not clear how much impact it will have on how the federal agency operates.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., a longtime critic, said he was disappointed by the results of an audit of Wildlife Services he requested in 2012. That audit, which was done by the inspector general of the USDA, the agency’s parent, was neither thorough nor independent, he said. “Ranching stakeholders wield a great deal of influence in Washington D.C … now it appears they are impacting the USDA IG’s office.” DeFazio said he is encouraged by this week’s court decision, which “highlights the many flaws in the Wildlife Services’ environmental analysis and actions.”

The court decision, however, is only a start. What is needed is an independent, national audit of Wildlife Services, opening up the agency to public scrutiny that can determine whether it should survive and, if so, in what form.