Dear Petition Supporters,
We want to provide you with an important update and thank you for signing our petition calling for an investigation into the culture of cruelty that exists within the USDA Wildlife Services (WS) agency and demanding that federal trapper Jamie Olson be terminated for his egregious abuse and torture of wildlife.
We are very excited to announce our petition has exceeded 100,000 signatures thanks to each of you! Please help us reach—and hopefully exceed — our current goal of 150,000 signatures by sharing our petition through email and social networking sites.
With our allies, we are making progress in efforts to expose the atrocities behind the USDA's Wildlife Services animal damage program. Last year, we filed a joint petition (with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Animal Welfare Institute) with the Obama administration to reform Wildlife Services. The petition was filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees Wildlife Services. Astoundingly, this federal agency has no formal rules governing their practices and no public oversight! A response to the petition is required by law.
An unprecedented audit of Wildlife Services is to follow, with several objectives, including but not limited to, "determine whether wildlife damage management activities were justified and effective". The audit of Wildlife Services by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Inspector General for reckless predator control, animal abuse and failure to account for costs was recently a nationally featured story in the LA Times.
The secretive “killing agency” continues to receive national media attention and increased public scrutiny. In a recent Washington Post article by Daryl Fears, “USDA’s Wildlife Services Killed 4 Million Animals in 2013; Seen as an Overstep by Some,” Fears provides a partial list of some of the more than 4 million animals killed by Wildlife Services, included 75,326 coyotes, 866 bobcats, 528 river otters, 3,700 foxes, 12, 186 prairie dogs, 973 red-tailed hawks, 419 black bears and at least three eagles.
We are also addressing this issue at the state and local levels. On June 30th, Project Coyote joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund and a coalition of conservation groups in sending formal letters to the Humboldt and Mendocino County boards of supervisors demanding the immediate termination of their contracts with the USDA's Wildlife Services program. Wildlife Services indiscriminately kills tens of thousands of native wild animals in California every year. Using a unique legal strategy, the letters make the case that the animal damage control programs operate without adequate environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and violate the Public Trust Doctrine. The letters ask the counties to undertake appropriate environmental review under CEQA and ensure proper protections. Under CEQA, the counties have a duty to review the impacts of activities that affect California's environment, including wildlife. Under the California public trust doctrine Mendocino County, Humboldt County and CDFW are obligated to regulate California's wildlife resources in a manner that benefits all citizens. The letters serve to inform the counties of their failure to follow the legal procedure mandated by CEQA and to fulfill their legal duties under the public trust doctrine. The letters also urge the counties to institute a non-lethal animal damage control program, similar to the one used in Marin County, which recognizes the ecological benefits of predators. Just one day after our coalition’s demands for contract terminations were submitted, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors made the decision to delay renewal of their contract with Wildlife Services pending reevaluation of the issues.
Again, we are so grateful to all of you for signing our petition and speaking out against this agency's unconscionable cruelty toward wildlife. Please share our petition with friends, family and colleagues and help us reach our goal of 150,000! Links to all news articles and news release referenced in this update can be found below.
The Project Coyote Team