Government’s War on Wildlife Called Out by Two Congressmen

The hot seat just got hotter for the rogue agency that’s responsible for the cruel and indiscriminate killing of millions of animals every year in the U.S., following a request for an investigation and congressional review made by two senators.

Wildlife Services (WS) began as Animal Damage Control, which started out killing pests and added predators to its list of targets in 1914. The agency has since expanded its services and has continued killing hundreds of thousands of native animals every year under the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Major problems within the agency made waves with the public following a series of articles by Tom Knudson that were published in the Sacramento Bee in 2012, offering much needed insight into what was going on behind the scenes.

The agency has been accused of wantonly killing wildlife, including endangered species, using methods that range from using poisons, traps and snares to aerial gunning and employing snipers. It has also been accused of illegal activity, coverups, falsifying reports, injuring people and killing family pets, while employees have been found guilty of horrific and intentional acts of animal cruelty without facing disciplinary actions.

For decades WS has gone unchecked while biologists question the lack of science behind the killing, conservation organizations file lawsuits to stop the slaughter of wildlife and concerned citizens write letters and sign petitions both pleading and demanding the government find better solutions, all while we, ironically, foot the bill for the rising death toll.

The USDA’s inspector general will now finally be investigating the agency, following requests from Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and John Campbell (R-Irvine), who are calling for “a complete audit of the culture within Wildlife Services,” reports the LA Times.

They’re also calling for congressional oversight hearings over concerns about the agency’s spending. According to the LA Times, last year an audit found “unreconcilable” problems with the agency’s accounting practices, violations of state and federal laws and $12 million in a special account missing. DeFazio said he was troubled about not being able to get information from WS and called it the “the least accountable federal agency” he’s ever seen.

They, and others, also object to the agency doing the bidding of special interests and private businesses at the expense of taxpayers — really, that the agency continues to operate at the beck and call of ranchers who want vital predators destroyed. Previous attempts to investigate have been hindered by powerful agricultural lobbies.

The news of the investigation also follows a formal petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations calling for reform in December.

“For far too long Wildlife Services has run roughshod over America’s wildlife,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “We call on the USDA to clean house and bring Wildlife Services into the modern era of predator conservation and stewardship by adopting rules that justify their actions and that allow for public input and the integration of ethics, economics and science-based ecology.”

Predator Defense is also working to raise awareness and ignite calls for change and will be screening Exposed: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife, a new documentary featuring whistleblowers who have come out in opposition to WS.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Loesje vB
Loesje Najoan4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Michael M.
Michael M4 years ago

The BLM nd Forest Service were established during a time when the US govt believed completely that resource extraction was ethical and should be a dominant use of public lands.

Since then, largely in the Twentieth century, although a number of dissenting people and groups formed and acted earlier, values such as unexploited, unpolluted, "undeveloped", undamaged-by-technological-"improvement" land, have been increasingly prized.
The science of ecology has developed during this time, and along with other biological disciplines, not to mention traditional peoples' understanding, have helped to guide somt USDI policies. Forest Service is still under USDA, though.

These two agencies although still corrupted by private financial interests to a great extent in teh major political parties administrations and legislatures, are all the Earth within US borders has left.
In NO way should they be diminished, but their mission statements should be adjusted.

I live and travel (with a recent hiatus due to the aging of a wolf in my care) in the Western States of the US, and can tell you that ANY diminution of federal control leads to corrupt corporatism and environmental destruction on a scale that only those caught in the madness of the unrestricted "growth" economies of those states can understand.

I have seen too much destruction of the living land to agree with or even tolerate opinions that those agencies be diminished or closed.

Don Swanz
Don Swanz4 years ago

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Don and WE CAN! :-))

Michael M.
Michael M4 years ago

I'm surprised that a rep from Irvine, center of republican country in southern CA, is working with Pete deFazio on this.

But, then democrats in ID, MT, and elsewhere have been complicit in the killing of ecologically vital wolves in the USA as well.

Sometimes ethics popup or down in the strangest "whack-a-mole" way.

Cindy Miars
Cindy Miars4 years ago

There needs to be accountability. Wildlife Services cannot make up their own rules and kill wildlife indiscriminately. Reform of this department and the Bureau of Land Management needs to take place immediately.

Brenda Hixenbaugh

Brandon V. - the BLM is just as bad and also need to have their doors closed ASAP. Look at the slaughter they are involved with, maybe these two operate out of the same office? Look at the Wild Mustang and Wild Burro slaughter. These agencies have a lot to answer for, by being fired, arrested, prosecuted, and prison.Then the agencies need to be shut down as dysfunctional criminal element.No Exceptions, all must go!

Read more:

Brenda Hixenbaugh

Here is another government agency that needs its doors shut forever and the criminals that are employed at this disgusting agency needs to be arrested and prosecuted for numerous charges from animal abuse, criminally possessing poisons that should have been destroyed, plus selling them and the horrendous animal abuse that this slime has committed against who knows how may animals. This agency is a disgrace and it is time that they got FIRED and PROSECUTED and SENT TO PRISON like any other criminals. NO ONE SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cynthia B.
cynthia l4 years ago

WS is a national shame. Psychos with a license to kill
thanks to the work of Project Coyote and Predator Defense, especially Brooks Fahy