Humboldt and Mendocino Counties Urged to Void Contract with Secretive, Inhumane Wildlife Services

Posted on June 30, 2014

Indiscriminate Killing, Environmental Destruction and Legal Violations Spark Controversy

For immediate release


Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Tim Ream, Center for Biological Diversity
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote
Josh Mogerman, Natural Resources Defense Council
Tara Zuardo, Animal Welfare Institute
Tim Dunbar, Mountain Lion Foundation

coyote-in-LA-article-image-500pxSAN FRANCISCO — A broad coalition of national animal and conservation groups sent formal letters to the Humboldt County and Mendocino County boards of supervisors today urging them to terminate their contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, which indiscriminately kills tens of thousands of native wild animals in California every year, including coyotes, bears, foxes and mountain lions. The letters ask the counties to undertake appropriate environmental review and ensure proper protections prior to hiring Wildlife Services to kill any additional wildlife, as required under California state law. Last year, in response to a similar letter from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors opted not to renew the county’s contract with Wildlife Services; it is now conducting a review of its wildlife policies. Marin County cancelled its contract with Wildlife Services 14 years ago and implemented a nonlethal predator-control program. As a result, the county has seen a 62 percent decrease in livestock predation at one-third of the former cost.

Since 2000 Wildlife Services has spent a billion taxpayer dollars to kill a million coyotes across the nation. The excessive killing continues unchecked despite extensive peer-reviewed scienceshowing that reckless destruction of native predators leads to broad ecological devastation. The indiscriminate methods used by Wildlife Services have killed more than 50,000 “non-target” animals in the past decade, including endangered condors and bald eagles. The agency deploys steel-jaw leghold and body-crushing traps and wire snares, which maim and trap animals, who then may take several days to die. These devices have also injured hikers and killed pets — not only in wilderness and rural areas, but often in populated suburban landscapes. In 1998 California voters banned several of these methods, including leghold traps. Last year Wildlife Services drew national public scrutiny when employee Jamie P. Olson posted pictures on social media of his hunting dogs mauling coyotes caught in leghold traps. Another agency trapper, Russell Files, was charged with animal cruelty for intentionally maiming his neighbor’s dog with multiple leghold traps.

“California taxpayers may be shocked to know their dollars are funding a rogue agency that recklessly kills predators, endangered animals, and pets,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “We urge Mendocino and Humboldt to follow the example of counties that use more humane and more effective methods of predator control.”

“Despite growing public outcry, calls for reform by members of Congress and an ongoing investigation by the Agriculture Department’s inspector general, Wildlife Services poisoned, strangled and shot more than 2 million native animals last year, an increase of almost 30 percent over the year before,” said Tim Ream, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s endangered species program. “Taxpayers in Mendocino and Humboldt should follow the lead of Sonoma and Marin and stop the slaughter.”

“Marin County’s Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program demonstrates that killing wildlife is not necessary to reduce conflicts,” said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote founder and executive director, who helped develop Marin’s nonlethal program. “It has become a national model based on coexistence, community involvement and a recognition that coyotes and other predators are vital to healthy ecosystems.”

“Californians shouldn’t adopt the shoot-first, ask questions later approach taken elsewhere,” said Elly Pepper, a wildlife advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These letters call on the counties to make sure nonlethal efforts are used first to address wildlife conflicts.”

“Wildlife Services has long fostered a culture of cruelty among employees, overlooking glaring misconduct and ignoring readily available alternatives to its outdated wildlife management tools,” noted D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist at the Animal Welfare Institute.

Copies of the demand letters are available upon request.

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Project Coyote is a North America coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, predator friendly ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, please visit

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Since 1951, the Animal Welfare Institute has been dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. We seek better treatment of animals everywhere – in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information, please visit

Mountain Lion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habit. Visit

22 thoughts on “Humboldt and Mendocino Counties Urged to Void Contract with Secretive, Inhumane Wildlife Services

  1. Cynthia Blake says:

    The policies of regarding wildlife management in Mendocino and Humboldt counties are disgraceful and disgusting. The fact that they are hidden from the public’s general knowledge makes this even more heinous and reflects very poorly on your agency…. No, make that OUR agency. We demand you stop these murderous practices immediately!

  2. Angee Sylvester says:

    Please save these creatures.

  3. Amy says:

    Stop killing coyotes!

  4. Andrea Vanderham says:

    This is a disgusting practice and im sure many taxpayers would not want their money spent in this way. We are the ones taking their land and now their life. America and the 1-2% that is in control has become an utter disappointment.

  5. Kris Martinez says:

    hateful thing to do…..

  6. Patricia Garrett says:

    It is a shame that California, tolerate this.
    This isn’t our agency. Stop this disgusting pratice now !!

  7. Connie Colvin says:

    Stop killing all animals!!!

  8. Lauren Barrows says:

    Please stop the senseless slaughter.

  9. Shirley Cofresi says:

    WS is a rouge agency killing animals at will without oversite.

    Hunters should NOT be allowed making policy in CA or anywhere else when the safety of wild animals is at stake.

  10. No “wildlife service” should be doing this: “U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, which indiscriminately kills tens of thousands of native wild animals in California every year, including coyotes, bears, foxes and mountain lions.”
    Oversight is needed and utmost scruples as to if and when any animal should be killed. Oversight should be fighting to preserve all animals if at all possible and not letting anyone be rogue.

  11. Karin Jonas says:

    Stop killing animals!

  12. Nati Fernandez says:

    Please stop this! It disgusts me that there are sick people doing something like this! These poor innocent animal have done nothing wrong and do not deserve this. People that do this are SICK!

  13. Armella Feil says:

    Please stop the killing!

  14. Bob Campbell says:

    Please stop killing animals

  15. Sonja Mills says:

    Very saddened and angry regarding these disturbing, cruel, and barbaric practices. This is not what tax payers have agreed to. Please reconsider your decisions, align your principals and mission with those of the people and end the unnecessary slaughter of these beautiful animals.

  16. Lorraine Lennon says:

    All animals have the right to live in peace on Earth .

  17. Lorraine Lennon says:

    All animals have the right to live in peace on Earth .

  18. Jennifer Birks says:

    Pleas don’t kill our precious wildlife and keep them safe

  19. Mark Bickett says:

    This useless agency does the same thing here on the Oregon coast kill kill kill,destroy, poison,trap, club, sick assess they are, and to get paid for it.

  20. cindymendoza47 says:

    it just confirms that every dept. of this adminastration is just not controlled in any aspect. this bozo has stated the of our country is the selling off of our public land to the highest bidder and the land is having to be cleared of any and all obsticles . which require the horses gone and all predators ,too. i really hate that congress has no balls to impeach this sob and clean up their act to bring america back home to us the people

  21. cindymendoza47 says:

    and obama has stated that he wants to make america the richest country in the world for oil production and guess what folks he’s doing it. and ignoring us when we speak

  22. Rosemarie says:

    ENOUGH! Stop this barbaric behavior. You have no right and we have had enough!

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