Obscure no more, a secretive government agency that’s exterminated millions of animals — including 18,700 in San Diego County in just a few years — is about to undergo intense scrutiny via a federal investigation.
It’s about time, say lawmakers and animal advocates who have spent years warning that the taxpayer-funded pest controllers at Wildlife Services are out of control. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which manages the agency, is launching a probe after getting demands from members of Congress.
But the agency still has defenders who stand by its approach to killing animals that it deems threats to farms, private companies and endangered species.
At stake are the lives of wild animals considered to be pests and the other critters (including innocent species and household pets) that get caught up in the fatal dragnet. Voice of San Diego reported extensively on Wildlife Services in 2012 and found that its trappers have killed mountain lions, bobcats, songbirds, coyotes and other animals — even an alligator and a wild turkey — since 2005.
Some of the animals appear to have posed threads to livestock and to endangered species. (Animals exterminated locally because they’re considered dangerous to other animals include great blue herons and long-tailed weasels.)
Other exterminated animals are considered pests, like pigeons, rats and skunks. A total of 2,900 coots, duck-like birds that damage swimming pools and golf courses, were killed.
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This killing is costly and crazy, especially because of a golf course. I live and work on a privately owned and funded golf course right on Carmel Creek. It took us six years, but we finally have a balanced eco-system where humans and animals peacefully co-exist. We with blue herons and hunting birds of all kinds and a large okay pond. We also have bob cats, rabbits, coots and coyotes. Yes, we humans have had to change our ways and it took patience. But like lots of good things, it is worth it.
Man, at the top of the food chain, has over millennia exacted damage to our environment through mindless elimination of those animals that, by their very existence, help to maintain a balance in Nature. I could site the many examples here, but would wind up writing a book instead.
Needless to say the examination of the Wildlife Services actions will bring clarification to their mission and subsequent actions. If indeed, the agency has been operating “undercover” to eliminate supposed "pests" for private business and others at tax payer expense, we need to know this. Then, either the agency will be redefined or eliminated.
"Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon who called for the probe, hopes the agency in charge of animal extermination will itself be snuffed out."
This Guy is an idiot.
Investigate away, especially on the accounting front, but eliminate the Agency?
That will come back to haunt Society in a big way as pest populations will explode. Especially the predators.
Pest control is a necessary evil and Brad Bergstrom is actually more in tune to the direction this function is heading (preventing depredation) but the option of killing pests should not even be considered.
One problem is defining what is a pest and who should pay for controlling it. For example, my neighbors have called them to kill coyotes, which is beyond silly. Why? Because we are right next to the San Dieguito River Park, and if they kill off coyotes, more will just move into the now open territory. And because the reason they called is that a coyote killed their outdoor cat. Explain to me why I as a taxpayer should pay to kill coyotes because the cat's owners left it outside. And what about the dogs and other animals that may die from poisons intended for coyotes? Or why should I pay for coots to be killed at a private golf course (which has happened locally). Pest control is a necessary evil, but who should do it and who should pay for it? I have another neighbor who has a huge rat population. He needs to take care of his problems, not have it done at the taxpayers' expense. I'd also be interested in hearing what is being protected by killing Great Blue Herons? I hope it's not because they eat the Koi and other expensive fish from people's ponds. More likely, it's because they eat fish at fish farms. How about the farmers protect their fish, not ask me to pay for it?
I have no problem with the pay for it part. I don't care to pay for the golf course coot control either.
The problem comes in with the "but who should do it?"
Private citizens and contractors are limited in scope concerning this issue.
Wildlife Services is the only agency that can carry out the services without running afoul of the law.