Mendocino County Suspends Contract with Rogue Federal Wildlife-Killing Program

Posted on April 13, 2015

County Will Review Tactics of Wildlife Services, Which Kills Millions of Wild Animals Annually

For immediate release:

Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute
Amy Atwood, Center for Biological Diversity
Kimiko Martinez, Natural Resources Defense Council
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote

coyote-howl-cc-dan-dzurisin-article-image-220pxMendocino, Calif. — In response to legal pressure from a coalition of animal protection and conservation groups, Mendocino County officials agreed today to suspend the renewal of the county’s contract with the notorious federal wildlife-killing program known as Wildlife Services, pending an environmental review that will include consideration of nonlethal predator control methods. The county’s decision came after the coalition, and a Mendocino resident, filed a lawsuit against the county in November for violating the California Environmental Quality Act. As a result of that agreement, the coalition has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit.

Mendocino County’s previous $142,356 contract authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to kill hundreds of coyotes, as well as bears, bobcats, foxes and other animals in the county every year, without assessing the ecological damage or considering alternatives.

Today’s agreement was set in motion in July 2014, when the coalition, which includes Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Project Coyote, urged the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to terminate the taxpayer-funded contract with the Wildlife Services program and conduct a legally-required environmental review. As part of that settlement, the county has agreed to fully evaluate nonlethal predator control alternatives submitted by the coalition. The benefits of nonlethal tactics like those used in Marin County will be highlighted during a coalition presentation by Project Coyote’s Camilla Fox on May 5. The community is encouraged to attend.



Nearly 15 years ago, Marin County replaced its Wildlife Services contract with a nonlethal predator control program that decreased predation by 62 percent at one-third the cost. And in 2013, in response to a letter from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors opted not to renew that county’s contract with Wildlife Services.

In California, 80,000 animals are trapped and killed each year by Wildlife Services on behalf of commercial agriculture. Nationwide, Wildlife Services has spent approximately $1 billion over the past 15 years to kill 1 million coyotes and a host of other wild animals. In 2013 alone, it killed at least 4 million animals. And former employees have reported that the program dramatically underreports the number of animals killed. Peer-reviewed research shows that such reckless slaughter of animals, particularly predators, causes broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity.

Wildlife Services has been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. Its employees have drawn public attention to the program’s routine acts of reckless cruelty. One was charged with animal cruelty for intentionally maiming his neighbor’s dog with a steel-jaw leghold trap. Another posted pictures on social media of his hunting dogs mauling coyotes caught in traps. More than 120,000 people signed an online petition demanding this employee’s termination and requesting an investigation into reports of animal cruelty by other Wildlife Services employees. The program is currently under investigation by the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General.

The coalition was represented in the lawsuit by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Copies of the complaint and settlement are available upon request.


19 thoughts on “Mendocino County Suspends Contract with Rogue Federal Wildlife-Killing Program

  1. Marsha Bomar says:

    I am horrified to know my tax dollars go toward killing wildlife I hold dear.

  2. Bravo to Mendocino Co., Calif. for standing up to Wildlife Services!

    I thought that the Department of Interior governed the Wildlife Services with the U.S.Fish & Game, deligated their actions to each state respectively.
    And that they could not be suspended from a county without state legislation directing them to do so.
    But, in light of the actions taken in Mendocino I have a small glimmer hope that we in Idaho can wield the ax as well!

  3. Pamela Lambert says:

    It is amazing that people do not know that there tax dollars are being used to kill the countries wild life! Many people find wild life inconvenient. This is covered up by using the terms Wildlife Management and Bureau of Land Management.

  4. Jane Gerber says:


  5. Christi Lewing says:

    We must fight against injustice in any form.Together we can make a difference. These animals have no way to protect themselves… That is most definately OUR JOB!

  6. c says:

    Stop the atrocity.

  7. Julee Blake says:

    We live in the 21st century – not the 18th. There much more effective ways to manage predator control than going out and massacring the native wildlife. And we might even maintain a few ecosystems that way.

  8. Natalie McIlwain says:

    Congratulations!!! Great work to prevent the senseless massacre of wildlife!!!

  9. Ronald Neal says:

    Wolfs are a big saver to the en environment so why are we destroying them???

  10. J. C. Cranford says:

    I am SO proud of everyone involved in standing up to Wildlife Services. I really don’t know what their goals are – to kill every animal they can? The fact that taxpayer’s money anywhere is used for killing is insane and should not happen.

  11. amanda_m says:

    Way to travel, way to roll, Mendocino County powers that be. You are so right to do that! Thank you!!

  12. Johnny Allen Smith says:


  13. This is wonderful news so now our bears and cubs wolves/cubs all hunted animals are safe ! But I wish Ohio state had the same because they are killing animals for there own sick games and in other states trophy hunters are getting permits and murdering rhinos elephants big cats and many more more too take photographs with the animals they have slaughterd cant ALDF stop this barbaric slaughtering!

  14. This is wonderful news so now our bears and cubs wolves/cubs all hunted animals are safe ! But I wish Ohio state had the same because they are killing animals for there own sick games and in other states trophy hunters are getting permits and murdering rhinos elephants big cats and many more more too take photographs with the animals they have slaughterd cant ALDF stop this barbaric slaughtering!

  15. BarbG says:

    The BLM is rounding up the wild mustangs to extinction just to please the very same cattle and sheep ranchers that demand that every wolf, coyote and anything that happens to have teeth that “might” look twice at one of their cows or sheep be shot on site. Every county across the US needs to pull the plug on this mindless organization. I saw the video of the jerk that let his dogs literally tear the coyote apart that had its paw caught in a leg hold trap there was blood every where as the jerk laughed it up. Those traps are another thing that needs to be banned in every state.

  16. Dorothy Silva says:


  17. Doc Undavitch says:

    Leave the wolves alone! They NEED their habitats!

  18. Elaine Brown says:

    As a Zoologist, I am delighted to hear this news. Mankind is a meddling and brutal race of “animals” who are destroying our earth and its wildlife. Inconvenience and greed are leading reasons for the gruesome killing off of our wild predators and many non-predators.

    If reason, compassion and just plain good common sense do not return to prevalence soon, we will have no wildlife left.

    Our Native Wild Horses and Burros were in such plight at a reduced number of 25,000 in 1971, there was legislation put into place unanimously in our Congress intending to save them forever. Today, they are being rounded up, penned and slaughtered with less than 15,000 left on the public lands, and this is strictly due to private profit and greed by hunters, ranchers, and energy and mining companies. This is perpetrated by the likes of Dick Cheney, Ken Salazar and Harry Reid for personal selfish gain.

  19. Patricia Joanides says:

    This animal slaughter in our midst, not in Africa or Asia, but California, Marin and Mendocino counties, is horrific and must stop. We all need all our wild animals and the habitat they enjoy and create. STOP THE KILLING NOW!!!

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