The ugly sides of coyote hunting

Another View — Christine Schadler: The ugly sides of coyote hunting

The recent article in the Union Leader about coyote baiting lifts the curtain on the world of coyote killing. In this recreational activity, a hunter can leave bait such as the dead pigs and chickens mentioned. Coyotes scavenge whatever they can, and unwittingly become target practice for the waiting shooter.

There is no hunt involved, no fair chase and no biological justification for this — just killing a useful predator, sorely needed to control rodent and deer populations. Why is this allowed? Ask the wildlife managers at New Hampshire Fish and Game and you will learn that since the coyotes will quickly replace any members removed, they are infinitely replaceable and therefore are in no danger of becoming extinct.

This is hardly justification.

Resilience characterizes the coyote, a trait for which it should be admired. Instead, it is the trait that causes coyotes so much trouble. The coyote is the predator we cannot control. Decades of extermination effort has yielded only hundreds of thousands more coyotes and a remarkable expansion in their range. Biologists understand the power of unleashing this responsive reproduction characteristic but at Fish and Game agencies, unlimited killing of coyotes is tolerated to appease the hunters who wish to kill for the sake of killing.

Ask one of these hunters why they kill coyotes and they will quickly respond, as did Mr. Toomey, the baiter, that coyotes have no predators and would get out of control if they weren’t constantly taken.

Of course, in nature, everything has predators and in the case of coyotes, it is disease. Mange, distemper, rabies, Parvo virus, tularemia, canine hepatitis and even porcupines all take their toll on coyotes. Meanwhile coyotes, a major predator of rodents (which make up 62 percent of their diet,) help to control the spread of Lyme disease.

As New Hampshire Fish and Game turns a blind eye to the reality of coyote killing, as discovered by the young man in Plaistow, they allow cruelty to pups, orphaned when their parents are killed, to a slow death by starvation. Yes, coyotes can be killed during their breeding and denning season, day and night in this state. Ask a wildlife manager at Fish and Game about this and you will be told that there aren’t that many taken to really make a dent in the population, but this is not the point.

First, no one is keeping track of the numbers of coyotes killed by hunting, baiting and denning (killing pups while in their den), and hunters are not required to report what they have killed. Secondly, the ethics of killing coyotes 365 days a year and at night from January through March are not part of the management decision-making.

The eastern coyote, like predators in general, regulates its own population naturally in several ways. When pack structure, crucial to self-regulation, is impacted by hunting, the young breed. Normally two thirds of all females never breed due to brief estrus cycles (just one week per year.) Also, vigilant parents do not tolerate their young breeding on their territory. Only the breeding pair breeds, period.

As long as no one asks too many questions, irresponsible hunters will continue to kill, kill, kill coyotes. Now that New Hampshire Fish and Game needs $1.5 million from the General Fund, our voice must be heard in defense of wildlife. The hunter, giving fair chase, holding ethical standards and using that animal for food, has every right to continue.

Christine Schadler is the Vermont and New Hampshire representative for Project Coyote.

USDA must rethink cyanide bombs that injured boy, killed pets, lawmaker says

This photo shows the M-44 that killed the Mansfield family's 3-year-old dog in Pocatello, Idaho.

This photo shows the M-44 that killed the Mansfield family’s 3-year-old dog in Pocatello, Idaho.  (The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office)

As was their routine, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield and his dog raced through the backyard of his Idaho home and up the top of a nearby hill to play. Minutes later, Canyon was knocked to the ground after a cyanide bomb set by the U.S. government detonated some 350 yards from the family’s doorstep.

Canyon watched as his 3-year-old golden Labrador, Casey, lay dying, suffocating from orange-colored cyanide sprayed by an M-44 device no one had told Canyon’s family about.

“We are devastated,” the boy’s mother, Theresa Mansfield, of Pocatello, Idaho, told Fox News on Tuesday. “My dog died in less than 2 minutes. My son was rushed to the hospital covered in cyanide.”

“We had no idea they were there,” Mansfield said of the device, which she described as resembling a sprinkler head.

The dog’s death on Thursday follows a string of other recent incidents in which family pets were accidentally killed by M-44s, a controversial device used by Wildlife Services, a little-known branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture tasked with destroying animals seen as threats to people, agriculture and the environment.

Critics, including Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., say the government’s taxpayer-funded Predator Control program and its killing methods are random — and at times, illegal.

“The recent death of dogs in Idaho and Wyoming are the latest unnecessary tragedies of USDA’s Wildlife Services use of M-44 cyanide traps,” DeFazio told Fox News. “These deadly traps have killed scores of domestic animals, and sooner or later, they will kill a human.”

“It’s time to stop subsidizing ranchers’ livestock protection efforts with taxpayer dollars and end the unchecked authority of Wildlife Services once and for all,” he said.

DeFazio’s office said the lawmaker plans to reintroduce a House bill this week that, if passed into law, would ban the use of the devices for predator control.

“These deadly traps have killed scores of domestic animals, and sooner or later, they will kill a human.”

– Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Mansfield’s home on Thursday with a bomb squad to investigate the incident. The family was immediately sent to a local emergency room to be screened for cyanide exposure.

The government claims the devices are not capable of killing a child. But Idaho authorities do not agree in the case of Canyon Mansfield, who weighs only 20 pounds more than his 80-pound dog.

“He’s very lucky to be alive,” Capt. Dan Argyle of the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office said of Canyon, whose blood is still being checked for levels of cyanide.

“We’re still trying to figure out how he wasn’t affected,” Argyle told Fox News. “We think a strong wind blew it [the cyanide] downhill when the device went off — right in the dog’s direction.”

Argyle said Wildlife Services is required by law to post warning signs around the devices but said, “We did not observe any signs at the location.” Upon further inspection, authorities found a second device within yards of the Mansfield home. Both devices were planted in the ground on Feb. 25 without the family’s knowledge or consent.

Days earlier, a family walking in an area 52 miles northwest of Casper, Wyo., lost two dogs from an M-44 that detonated near a hiking trail they have walked for 20 years.

Amy Helfrieck said she heard her husband yelling on March 12 as she was antler hunting with her 8-year-old daughter, sister and brother-in-law in a prairie filled with cedar trees and rock outcroppings.

When she turned her head, Helfrieck saw her husband carrying the couple’s dog, Abby, a 15-year-old Drahthaar — a breed similar to a German wire-haired dog — down a hill.

Helfrieck, a nurse, tried to pry open the dog’s mouth.

“She was having a lot of difficulty breathing and I knew at that time she was dying,” she said.

“What I didn’t realize was that we were exposing ourselves to a very deady poison,” Helfrieck said.

Her sister’s 7-year-old Weimaraner, Molly, also was killed by the sodium cyanide trap.

In this case, Helfrieck said there were markers at the site but they were placed only 5 feet from the actual trap.

The M-44s, also known as “coyote-getters,” are designed to lure animals with a smelly bait. When an animal tugs on the device, a spring-loaded metal cylinder fires sodium cyanide powder into its mouth.

Over the years, thousands of non-target animals — wild and domestic — have been mistakenly killed by the lethal devices.

On Saturday, The Oregonian reported that a gray wolf was accidentally killed by an M-44 on private land in Oregon’s Wallowa County. The wolf death was the first documented “incidental take” of its kind in the state involving a protected animal and an M-44, fish and wildlife officials told the newspaper.

Wildlife Services said it first learned of the Wyoming incident on Monday and denied any involvement in the deaths.

Lyndsay Cole, a spokeswoman for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, told Fox News the agency does not conduct predator control using those devices in Natrona County, where the incident occurred.

Cole, however, did confirm the “unintentional lethal take” of the Mansfield family dog in Idaho.

“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,” she said, noting that the agency was “very concerned” about any human exposure to the sodium cyanide.

“Wildlife Services has removed M-44s from that area, and is completing a thorough review of the circumstances of this incident,” she said.

Cole called the accidental death of family pets from M-44s a “rare occurrence,” and said Wildlife Services posts signs and issues other warnings to alert pet owners when traps are placed near their homes. She also said these devices “are only set at the request of and with permission from property owners or managers.”

The Mansfields and other familes, however, said they had no knowledge the devices were anywhere near their homes and were not familiar with how they work.

Brooks Fahy, executive director of the national wildlife advocacy organization Predator Defense, has been working for decades to ban M-44s, calling them “nothing more than land mines waiting to go off, no matter if their victim is a child, a dog or a wolf.”

“Much of the public remains totally in the dark about the fact that these deadly devices are placed on private and public lands nationwide,” Fahy told Fox News. “M-44s are totally indiscriminate. Worse yet, they are unnecessary, as the majority of the animals killed have never preyed on livestock.”

Labrador killed by cyanide device in Idaho, boy knocked to the ground

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/03/labrador_killed_by_cyanide_dev.html

M-44 device
A federal M-44 cyanide device exploded Thursday, March 16, 2017, killing a dog in Pocatello Idaho. (Bannock County Sheriff’s Office)
By Andrew Theen | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on March 18, 2017 at 7:30 AM, updated March 18, 2017 at 8:26 AM

A three-year-old Labrador retriever died and a 14-year boy was knocked to the ground when a cyanide device deployed by the federal government exploded in Pocatello, Idaho.

The Idaho State Journal reported the boy, who had been on a walk with his dog Thursday on a ridge near their home, watched his dog die. According to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, the boy was also “covered in an unknown substance” when the device known as an M-44 detonated. He was evaluated at a hospital and released.

“That little boy is lucky,” Sheriff Lorin Nielsen told the Pocatello newspaper. “His guardian angel was protecting him.”

The Idaho incident comes a few weeks after a gray wolf was accidentally killed by an M-44 on private land in Oregon’s Wallowa County. The controversial type of trap is used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services crews around the country primarily to kill coyotes and other predators.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced legislation as recently as 2012 to ban the trap.

DeFazio has said he would reintroduce a similar bill in Congress.

The wolf death was the first documented “incidental take” of its kind in Oregon involving the protected animal and the M-44, fish and wildlife officials said.

Federal Wildlife Services officials said there were 96 M-44 devices dispersed across Oregon as of last week and the agency was looking to remove devices that were near known wolf habitat. Oregon fish and wildlife officials have said the devices were not allowed in areas of known wolf activity.

Feds kill wolf in Wallowa County on private land with cyanide trap

Feds kill wolf in Wallowa County on private land with cyanide trap

A gray wolf was killed on private land in Wallowa County by a controversial cyanide device used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Oregon has long paid Wildlife Services to kill invasive species and specific predators. But Gov. Kate Brown’s’ recommended budget doesn’t include $460,000 typically set aside to pay the federal agency to kill animals in Oregon.

Bannock County officials described the device as “extremely dangerous to animals and humans.”

The department circulated photos of the trap. “If a device such as this is ever located please do not touch or go near the device and contact your local law enforcement agency,” officials said.

Government officials have said the number of deaths of domestic animals and non-target animals each year is low, and officials say they are conducting an “internal review” of the wolf death.

Wildlife Services killed 121 coyotes in Oregon in 2016 with M-44 devices, along with three red foxes, according to the government’s figures. No gray wolf was killed in the U.S. last year with the cyanide capsules, according to the government.

A Eugene nonprofit says the government isn’t being truthful about the number of pets and non-target animals – such as wolves – killed each year.

“Yesterday’s Idaho poisoning of a dog and the near poisoning of a child is yet another example of what we’ve been saying for decades:  M-44s are really nothing more than land mines waiting to go off, no matter if it’s a child, a dog, or a wolf,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, said in a statement.

“It’s time to ban these notoriously dangerous devices on all lands across the United States.”

— Andrew Theen

Non-lethal control more effective, not perfect

http://www.scnews.com/news/article_2facc034-02c6-11e7-af32-3b60d9f3d592.html

  • By Matt Spaw WNPA Olympia News Bureau
  • Mar 10, 2017

In a surprising turn, a state panel in Olympia discussing studies of lethal means to control wolves preying on farm animals and invading humans’ territory, found that non-lethal control is a more effective option.

Wildlife experts and members of the public came together at a Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Feb. 10 to discuss wolf removal.

According to the panel, most of the state’s wolf packs are in northeastern Washington, with some in the North Cascades region. The panel was made up of Department of Wildlife experts specializing in wolves, wildlife conflict and carnivores.

Wolves present a challenge for livestock owners. Wolves are reestablishing themselves after being nearly eradicated in the early 1900s, but ranchers and others face the problem of protecting their livestock from wolf predation.

“We need to hone in on our objective. Is it tolerance? Is it to stop depredations forever?” said Donny Martorello, wolf policy lead for the state agency.

The panel went over studies about the culling of wolf populations.

Four of the five non-lethal tests reviewed had preventive effects, while only two of the seven lethal tests had preventive effects. Two of the lethal tests increased predation.

Non-lethal methods include fladry, which involves hanging flags that flap in the breeze and scare wolves, as well as using guard dogs for livestock.

In some areas the desired effect of culling wolf populations occurred.

“Less livestock were killed. In some areas it did not work,” Martorello said. “It drives home the message that there is no perfect solution.”

The department suspended the controversial killing of Profanity Peak wolves in October. That program, aimed at killing a pack of 11 wolves, resulted in the deaths of seven and cost $135,000 before being suspended. The wolves had attacked or killed about 15 cattle.

“Wolves are one of the most studied animals on the planet,” said Scott Becker, state wolf specialist.

The panelists also examined public opinion of wolves and what studies say about perception.

“If one has a positive valuation of wolves, they generally like to focus on the benefits,” Becker said. “If one has a negative value of wolves, they generally focus on those costs.”

Only 61 of 358 Northern Rocky Mountain region wolf packs in the United States — or about 17 percent — were involved in at least one confirmed livestock killing, according to Becker. People are willing to accept some level of conflict with wolves, but 50 to 70 percent of that conflict occurs on private property, which could affect public perceptions.

The department’s Wolf Advisory Group will use the meeting’s findings to inform future recommendations. Advisory group members are landowners, conservationists, hunters and other interests who work together to recommend strategies for reducing conflict with wolves.

This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.

Hunter killed while coyote hunting in SE North Dakota

http://www.valleynewslive.com/content/news/Hunter-killed-while-coyote-hunting-in-SE-North-Dakota-413166903.html

EDGELEY, N.D. (Valley News Live) A 57 year old man from out of state died from a gunshot wound, while hunting coyotes near Edgeley, ND on Tuesday.

The LaMoure County Sheriff says the 911 call came in around 11:20 Tuesday morning on a report of a man who was accidentally shot. The man was pronounced dead at 11:49 am after authorities arrived on the scene.

Sheriff Robert Fernandes says the man was with two other men when he was shot. All three men are from out of state, but are known to make annual trips to the area to hunt.

It is not clear who shot the man, but Sheriff Fernandes says at this point he believes it was an accident. The incident is still under investigation.

The body has been sent to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Bismarck for an autopsy.

Wolf And Coyote Traps Are Killing Grizzly Bears

trrapped-wolf-facebook

Coauthored by: Dwight Rodtka ­ Predator Control Specialist, Alberta Agriculture (retired) and
Sadie Parr ­ Executive Director Wolf Awareness Inc.

In Alberta, the grizzly bear has been listed as a Threatened species under Alberta’s Wildlife Act since 2010, and the provincial government has implementedmanagement measures to increase its numbers.

Hunting of grizzly bears is no longer allowed, and education promoting conflict prevention and coexistence among humans has been put into action.

However, there remains one important source of bear mortality which the government recognizes but has done little to eliminate: baited killing snares set for the capture of wolves and coyotes. Grizzlies are extremely susceptible to being caught in wolf or coyote killing snares. Although there are designated areas and seasons to protect grizzlies from falling victim to snares, these are quite ineffective in protecting bears.

As per the current Alberta Guide to Trapping Regulations, trappers are allowed to set out bait piles, usually including hunter kill scraps and road-killed animals. Snares set around bait stations are neither selective nor humane, and they kill or cripple whatever may be attracted to the bait pile. Snares are also commonly set on game trails with disastrous results.

“Non-target” catches are common, and often referred to as “by-catch”. Last winter, inSundre, Alberta, a minimum of fifteen cougars, several deer, a horse, and two eagles were accidentally caught in snares set for wolves and coyotes.

In another incident investigated by Dwight Rodtka, a retired Predator Control Specialist of 38 years for Alberta Agriculture, 12-15 wolf snares set in the Rocky Mountain House area, Alberta, captured and killed, within one week: a wolf pup, a deer, an adult black bear, and an adult grizzly bear.

Current legislation does not even require the reporting of nontarget species. Unfortunately, when bears are seeking the highest amount of calories in fall to ensure survival through the winter, a stage called hyperphagia, finding a bait pile is like hitting the jackpot. When snares are set, however, finding a bait pile also means death.

Snaring wolves is considered a recreational pursuit (i.e., trophy hunting) for trappers today and a source of income. Since 2007, the Alberta Wild Sheep Foundation and other private groups have funded bounties of $300 $350 per dead wolf.

Hundreds upon hundreds of wolves are killed every year for this bounty that also causes the by-catch death of grizzly bears and countless other animals. In this new millennium, Canada has returned to the old adage of “shoot, shovel, and shut up.”

Not only is the province intentionally allowing the squander of wolves and coyotes, both of which have important roles in maintaining balance and diversity in nature, but it is also blatantly allowing harm and death to threatened grizzly bears.

Alberta’s trapping regulations have established “seasonal snaring restrictions” in an effort to “reduce the potential for accidental harvest [KILLING] of grizzly bears”.

Unfortunately for the grizzlies, Alberta’s Trapping Regulations do not seem to take in account nor know about grizzly bear behavior, as snaring is allowed in many Wildlife Management Units when bears are still active.

Many units along the Eastern Slopes, Rocky Mountain Foothills, National Parks, and farmland are open for snaring from October 1 March 31. However, grizzlies commonly den in December and are often out on the landscape again in March. In other words, snaring occurs when bears may be at risk of being captured.

Dwight Rodtka lives in Wildlife Management Unit 324 where grizzlies are common. Each year, Rodtka sees 2-7 different grizzlies on his property, usually from March 19 to December 9. Clearly, grizzlies are exposed to killing snares for no reason other than the government’s desire to kill as many wolves and coyotes as possible.

Snaring wolves and coyotes in these wildlife management units where grizzly bears are active results in the loss of animals and the further endangerment of the species.

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

Colorado Parks & Wildlife is hitting a new level of absurdity.

cougar pc Colorado Parks and Wildlife

From Wild Earth Guardians
The State has a new plot to kill cougars and bears in an attempt to boost mule deer populations so that it can sell more hunting tags. Yup, that’s right, they want to kill native animals so that more people will pay to kill other animals. Join us in telling our state’s wildlife managers it is past time to put wildlife first.

Poorly disguised as two “predator control studies” aimed at increasing sport-hunting opportunity for mule deer over the coming years, the state is putting bears and cougars in the crosshairs. The first plan calls for trapping and killing between 15-45 cougars and 30-75 black bears over a period of three years. The “study” part is a post-killing analysis of the impact of removing native predators on mule deer fawn survival rates. The science shows that removing native carnivores from the landscape undermines ecosystem functions. Adding insult to injury, the state plans to have the federal government’s rogue wildlife killing program—Wildlife Services—do the dirty work by setting cruel and indiscriminate traps and using hounds to capture the bears and cougars before shooting them dead. So, both your state and federal public resources would be used for the killing.

And, as if one so-called “research” project wasn’t good enough, another is set to begin this year. This second cruel project allows for dramatically increased trophy hunting of mountain lions over a nine-year “study” period. Fully six years of the study involve increasing cougar harvests by 50% to purposefully suppress the population. The “study’s” goal is to analyze the impact of using sport-hunting to control the wildcat population and increase deer density. Again, state sponsored killing of one native species purportedly to benefit hunters trying to kill another.

Killing Colorado’s native carnivores to benefit sport-hunters is just plain wrong. It’s also biologically unsound. Please join us in speaking out for Colorado’s wildlife and thriving natural ecosystems. Help us talk some sense into our state’s leading wildlife managers.

The State is hosting a public listening session on September 19th from 6:30 to 8:30p at the Hunter Education Building in Denver (6060 Broadway). Join Guardians in showing your support for Colorado’s native carnivores by attending and sharing your thoughts on the State’s proposed “research” plans.

Coloradans are proud of the healthy, wild ecosystems that make the state unique. Don’t let bloodthirsty minority interests destroy the balance for us all. Tell Colorado Parks & Wildlife native carnivores belong in Colorado.