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.