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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Time for Wildlife “Services” to Go Extinct

Published 06/26/09
By Barbara Schmitz, Senior Program Associate

The government has a dirty little secret.

While the Fish & Wildlife Service and other agencies try to protect wildlife, one federal bureaucracy works directly against this mission. This agency spends millions of taxpayer dollars to kill wildlife in enormous numbers. The federal government destroyed 2.4 million animals in 2007 alone because they were deemed a “nuisance” to ranchers, farmers, or municipalities. And, believe it or not, that number jumped to an even higher number in 2008.

This gruesome activity is the work of Wildlife “Services” — an arm of the Department of Agriculture with a very misleading name. Wildlife Services kills this staggering number of animals in really awful ways. It uses steel-jawed leghold traps, Conibear traps, and snares. It shoots, aerial guns, poisons, and uses dogs to chase and hunt down these animals. Widespread use of these techniques, particularly traps and poisons, often kills “non-target” species, as well as those aimed for. The species killed, both intentionally and as non-target animals, include dogs, cats, birds, coyotes, bears, river otters, foxes, turtles, rabbits, bobcats, raccoons, and squirrels. A chart of this information is compiled by Wildlife Services.

While we, the taxpayers, fund Wildlife Services, its lethal work is conducted for a very special group of people — the livestock industry. Ironically, data show that wildlife plays an insignificant role in livestock losses. Hmmm. Sounds like corporate welfare to me.

Most Americans have absolutely no idea that a significant segment of the federal wildlife management budget is devoted to such cruel and lethal activities. And those of us who do find out are outraged. The time has come to stop spending $100 million a year slaughtering wildlife.

Perhaps Barack Obama is the man to do it. President Obama stated that he intends to make fiscal efficiency a top priority for the federal government and he has even created a new post — chief performance officer — charged with this objective. Please take a moment to write to the President and urge him to make Wildlife Services extinct. A sample letter is below.

Blogging off,

Barbara


Sample Email

Dear President Obama,

In your Inaugural Address, you stated that you want to spend taxpayer revenue wisely, expediently, and for the good of all, and that ineffective federal programs will be shut down. I ask you to follow through on your promise and, toward that end, I draw your attention to one of the programs long overdue for deletion.

A branch of the USDA ironically called “Wildlife Services” wastes $100 million annually. This agency’s chief goal is spend taxpayer dollars to kill wildlife in enormous numbers. In 2007 alone, 2.4 million animals were destroyed because they were deemed a “nuisance” to ranchers, farmers, or municipalities.

This gruesome activity is conducted in ways that jeopardize the environment as well as public safety. Wildlife Services kills this staggering number of animals using cruel steel-jawed traps, other body-gripping traps, and snares (wire nooses). In addition, it aerial guns and poisons these animals. All of these techniques, but particularly traps and poisons, rely on a measure of arbitrariness or non-selectivity and this results in the killing of many “non-target” species, as well. The species killed, both intentionally and as non-target animals, include dogs, cats, birds, coyotes, bears, river otters, foxes, turtles, rabbits, bobcats, raccoons, and squirrels.

Wildlife Services’ work is conducted on behalf of the livestock industry. However, data show that wildlife plays an insignificant role in livestock losses. As a result, this program is an unjustified corporate welfare program.

Please, President Obama, the time has come to stop spending $100 million a year slaughtering wildlife in an archaic and unjustified program. Close out the budget for Wildlife Services’ gruesome work and shift that money toward techniques that will actually help citizens effectively resolve or even avoid these wildlife conflicts in the first place.

Thank you!

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