The problem with Wildlife Services is simple: The federal program relies too heavily on killing to resolve conflicts with wildlife. All too often, these methods are brutal, expensive and ineffective, with 100,000 animals killed each year. Tens of thousands of animals have been killed by mistake over the past decade -- including family pets and federally protected wildlife.
The solution for Wildlife Services is simple as well: Stop the kill-first mentality when it comes to wildlife -- and focus on using proven non-lethal deterrents to effectively resolve conflicts.
Please speak out now and urge Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to reform Wildlife Services from the federal government's top wildlife killers to a program that can truly resolve wildlife conflicts.
More than 100,000 animals are killed each year by Wildlife Services. Tens of thousands of animals have been killed by mistake over the past decade -- including family pets and federally protected wildlife.
The 'kill-first' mentality is especially prevalent in the West as the program focuses on killing wolves, coyotes, bears and other predators that are key to healthy ecosystems.
Recently Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Tom Knudson highlighted the major problems with Wildlife Services in a three-part article in the Sacramento Bee. His reporting shows that Wildlife Services' heavy reliance on killing is expensive, often ineffective and can cause more problems than it aims to resolve.
I urge you to reform Wildlife Services into a program that can more effectively address wildlife conflicts by:
* Assisting livestock producers with the use of non-lethal approaches to address wildlife damage conflicts and provide incentives to livestock producers for non-lethal approaches.
* Eliminating the use of non-selective lethal controls, including sodium cyanide, theobromine, and Compound 1080
* Verifying livestock losses before any actions are taken; define how livestock losses must be documented and who must verify those losses.
* Using science-backed decision making: measure success based on reduced rates of depredation rather than body counts, and define using science-backed criteria under what circumstances Wildlife Services will initiate actions
* Not killing wolves and other predators for the purposes of artificially boosting ungulate populations such as elk and deer, especially on public lands
I don't want my tax dollars to be used to support Wildlife Services' current misguided and archaic 'kill-first' policy. The program should instead reduce wildlife conflicts and encourage peaceful coexistence with predators by using and promoting non-lethal tools and best management practices to preemptively reduce livestock loss.
Thank you for considering my comments on this important matter.