Coyotes, mountain lions, bears, endangered condors and bald eagles, and other native wildlife are being slaughtered indiscriminately by a rogue federal killing agency known as Wildlife Services — a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
The agency’s reckless behavior is destroying ecosystems and violating animal protection laws with inhumane and outdated kill methods. Nationwide, Wildlife Services kills more than 2 million animals every year, mostly on public lands. Peer-reviewed research shows that such indiscriminate killing of wild animals results in broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity. Moreover, Wildlife Services’ rampant killing comes at a cost to taxpayers of more than $100 million per year.
The victims go beyond those the agency intends to kill. One Wildlife Services trapper reports his records showing that for every one target animal his traps caught, two additional non-target animals were captured — nearly all of whom had to be killed due to their injuries from traps. 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.
Wildlife Services’ rampant killing comes at a cost to taxpayers of more than 100 million dollars per year, mostly on public lands. Since 2000 Wildlife Services has spent over a billion taxpayer dollars to kill more than a million coyotes across the nation.
Though its mission is to help wildlife and humans coexist, Wildlife Services has become primarily a public-funded agency killing wildlife for private ranchers who believe their farmed animals are in competition with native predators for land.
Our native wildlife deserve a management program that is honest with the public, that allocates resources based on science — not politics — and that uses nonlethal methods to protect ecosystems. Native predators are essential to these environments, and it is time for the modern world to coexist with animals who reside within our wild lands.
That is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund, together with a coalition of environmental and wildlife organizations, is working hard to eliminate Wildlife Services and its relentless hold over wildlife management.
November 23, 2020
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, represented by students and staff in the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) over the agency’s critical redactions in a contract between the USDA’s Wildlife Services program and a Colorado slaughterhouse, outlining plans for slaughtering geese rounded up in parks across Denver.
August 13, 2020
Shasta County, California officials prepared an Environmental Impact Report assessing the County’s Wildlife Services contract in response to concerns raised by a coalition led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
May 5, 2020
Humboldt County, California approved a new contract with Wildlife Services that prioritizes non-lethal methods of wildlife “management,” resulting in fewer native wild animals being killed, in response to advocacy by a coalition of animal protection and conservation groups, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
April 6, 2020
The parties in the Sacramento District (Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Napa, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties) lawsuit reached a settlement that requires Wildlife Services to complete its environmental review by 2023 and abide by interim restrictions on the use of bird-killing poisons, a prohibition on the use of strangulation snares and other body-gripping traps in places like the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and other measures designed to protect endangered wildlife.
August 27, 2019
The Animal Legal Defense Fund joined the Center for Biological Diversity and Project Coyote in challenging Wildlife Services’ failure to reexamine the environmental impacts of its wildlife killing programs in California’s Sacramento District (Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Napa, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties) under the National Environmental Policy Act.
August 6, 2018
Siskiyou County, California reexamined and cancelled its contract with Wildlife Services amid legal pressure from the animal protection and conservation coalition led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
July 27, 2018
Shasta County, California officials announced the county would suspend its contract with Wildlife Services pending compliance with the California Environmental Policy Act after a coalition of animal protection and conservation groups led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a notice of intent to sue the county for violating the California Environmental Quality Act.
August 9, 2017
A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and a group of wildlife protection groups after the coalition successfully challenged Monterey County, California’s contract renewal with Wildlife Services.
July 12, 2017
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, in conjunction with a coalition of environmental and wildlife protection groups, sued Wildlife Services for violating the National Environmental Policy Act.
April 21, 2016
In response to a lawsuit brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and a coalition of wildlife groups, Mendocino County in Northern California agreed to perform a full Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act and suspend its contract with Wildlife Services.
May 16, 2013
In 2013, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors for Sonoma County, California, regarding the county’s predator control contract with Wildlife Services.
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