Take Action: On Tuesday, July 22nd, at 1PM, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will discuss the future of Wildlife Services funding.
On Monday, July 21st, from 6-9PM, join EPIC and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/Bird Ally X at the D-Street Community Center (1301 D Street, Arcata) for a “Teach-in” and film screenings. Click here to be redirected to the Facebook Event Page.
The County has approved Wildlife Services funding since the early 20th century. Under the contract, the County and federal government have a cost-share agreement for the provided services. The proposed agreement now before the Board would have the County allocate about $67,000 for every year of service.
According to the Washington Post, Wildlife Services, a federal agency, killed more than 4 million animals last year alone, including 75,326 coyotes, 866 bobcats, 528 river otters, 3,700 foxes, 973 red-tailed hawks, and 419 black bears. The agency uses snares, traps, poisons, aerial gunning and dogs to kill wild animals, often killing pets and other non-target animals by mistake. An investigative series by the Sacramento Bee found that between 2000 and 2012, Wildlife Services “accidentally” killed more than 50,000 non-problem animals, more than 1,100 dogs, and several imperiled species – including bald and golden eagles. In addition to endangering recreationists and their companions, these services serve to only disrupt the natural balance of wildlife, degrade habitat, leave orphaned animals, increase the risk of disease, and lead to the loss of many ecosystem services that benefit human society directly and indirectly.
Despite these large numbers of animal killings, there are non-lethal alternatives such as those practiced in Marin County, Sonoma County, and the City of Davis which are time-tested and cost less while being more effective in protecting private property. Marin County ended its contract with Wildlife Services in 2000, choosing instead to develop and implement its Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program, which assists ranchers with livestock protection in a non-lethal manner. The Marin County Agricultural Commissioner calls it a “good move” that substantially reduced livestock losses to predators, saying it cost more to operate in the beginning than today, but it now operates at about half the cost as it did under the Wildlife Services contract. The City of Davis voted unanimously to end its contract with Wildlife Services in January 2013 after the agency killed five coyotes, including four pups, without consulting City staff, which “did not concur that these animals exhibited behavior that warranted removal.
Counties have a duty to review the impacts of activities that affect California’s environment, including wildlife. Currently in Humboldt County, the Department of Agriculture’s APHIS-Wildlife Services (Wildlife Services) is not in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. Likewise, it relies on antiquated and cruel methods to kill wildlife and it operates under a heavy veil of secrecy despite being funded by taxpayer dollars. In addition, Wildlife Services operates with a complete lack of transparency or oversight of its actions, and has steadfastly refused requests from the public, lawmakers, and others to disclose details on the lethal methods it employs, the poisons it uses, and how its money is spent. Bipartisan members of Congress, including Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., and Jackie Speier, D-Calif. are calling for national reforms and requested a congressional investigation of the program. Due to related questions and controversies, the Office of Inspector General is now conducting an audit of Wildlife Services.
Humboldt County citizens are known for their environmental ethics and forward-thinking ideas. Join EPIC and other wildlife advocates on Tuesday, July 22 at 1PM at the Eureka Courthouse in the Supervisors Chamber to voice your opinion on whether or not Humboldt County should end its contract with Wildlife Services.
EPIC is pleased to be partnering with Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/Bird Ally X, Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Project Coyote, Natural Resources Defense Council, Animal Welfare Institute, and Mountain Lion Foundation to address the issues associated with Wildlife Services and their excessive killing of wild animals across the country.
This article was written by EPIC interns: Taylor Morrison, Nathan Fisch and Jason Landers.