Sickening photographs emerged last week of a Wildlife Services official’s dogs attacking a coyote in a leg-hold trap. The photos are stirring outrage among wildlife advocates… and anyone with a basic sense of decency.
The images were posted by Jamie Olson on his Facebook page in an album titled “work” and began making their way around the Internet after being spotted by an environmentalist. The images, which begin with a single one of a sad-looking female coyote in a trap, progress through the attack and death and finish with one Jamie Olson sitting proudly over her mangled, lifeless body are hard to stomach.
Almost as hard to stomach is the fact that we pay this guy’s salary. Olson is a “wildlife specialist” who works as a trapper in Wyoming.
One would hope this type of incident is rare, but according to Gary Strader, a former Wildlife Services employee, it isn’t.
“That is very common,” he wrote in an email to the Sacramento Bee. “It always was and always will be controversial. It has never been addressed by the higher-ups. They know it happens on a regular basis.”
Started as Animal Damage Control, Wildlife Services began killing predators in 1914 and has continued to kill hundreds of thousands of animals each year under the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Earlier this year, the Sacramento Bee published a series of articles highlighting the problems with Wildlife Services and its indiscriminate, inhumane and excessive killing practices. From aerial gunning and trapping to poisoning, which puts everyone at risk, their methods are not kind, but they are hidden under a cloak of secrecy.
Since 2000, its employees have killed nearly a million coyotes, mostly in the West. They have destroyed millions of birds, from nonnative starlings to migratory shorebirds, along with a colorful menagerie of more than 300 other species, including black bears, beavers, porcupines, river otters, mountain lions and wolves.
Between 2004 and 2011, Wildlife Services has killed more than 26 million animals and spends over $100 million annually to do so, according to WildEarth Guardians.
Wildlife Services is reportedly investigating Olson’s case and claims that the organization does not condone animal cruelty. Olson is claiming he doesn’t know anything about it and that his Facebook page was hacked.
The photos in question, along with others of dead coyotes and his dogs going after a bobcat and raccoon in traps, have since been removed and Olson’s Twitter account has been shut down.
“This is unacceptable behavior for any trapper, but such wanton cruelty and callous disregard for the welfare of these animals is particularly egregious when done by a government employee and must not be tolerated.” wrote Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute and Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote in a letter Thursday to the state director of Wildlife Services in Wyoming.
In June, John Campbell (R-California), Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), Elton Gallegy (R-California) and Jackie Speier (D-Califoria) called for a Congressional investigation into Wildlife Services citing the organizations indiscriminate lethal control practices, “lack of transparency and their waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
Please sign and share the petition asking Wildlife Services to immediately terminate Olson.
Photo credit: Thinkstock