Target: Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
Goal: Reform the Wildlife Services program that allegedly slaughters wildlife inhumanely.
Wildlife Services, a federal program intended to protect agricultural, natural, and property resources from wildlife damage, is responsible for killing millions of animals each year. A wildlife advocate described the Wildlife Services’ mass killings to the Washington Post as “a staggering killing campaign, bankrolled by taxpayers… beyond the view of most Americans.” Not only are animals being abused and killed, but the efficiency of Wildlife Services is questionable, too. Research shows that wildlife culling may not even be as effective in preventing predation. We must act now to demand that this federal program is regulated properly.
The animal abuse done by Wildlife Services is best exemplified by the story of Jamie Olso, a Wildlife Services employee who posted photos of himself smiling over the corpse of a mutilated coyote and other images where his dogs appeared to have attack the trapped animal. Despite the fact that Wildlife Services claim that employees “exhibit a high level of respect and professionalism when taking an animal’s life” and that trapped animals are killed quickly, Olso was cleared by an internal investigation that inexplicably determined that he had “violated no existing rules.”
Wildlife Services’ penchant for mass killings and reluctance to deter employees from cruel practices has drawn the attention of lawmakers. Unfortunately, intense lobbying from agricultural interests has thwarted attempts at reform. While Wildlife Services appears to be protected from any reform by legislative means, another avenue does exists. Wildlife Services is ultimately a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, not an independent authority. Intervention in the program by USDA staff may be the only answer. Tell the Secretary of Agriculture to step in to stop this alleged animal abuse and ineffective programs done by Wildlife Services.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
One of the programs under your department kills millions of animals every year and fails to discipline employees for the apparent torture of trapped animals. That program is Wildlife Services. New research questions the efficiency of the program’s wildlife culls. Rob Wielgus, a wildlife ecologist at Washington State University, has published studies that show that hunting predators actually promotes more predation by destabilizing communities and opening new territory for younger hunters to exploit the area. Apparently, his findings hold true across a wide range of predatory species. In essence, the activities of a program tasked with protecting agricultural resources actually endanger those very interests.
Furthermore, as in the case of Jamie Olso, employees of Wildlife Services are allegedly not always upholding a humane standard in killing wildlife. Legislative and judicial efforts to regulate Wildlife Services have proved fruitless. The chief council for Humane Society of the United States told Harpers Magazine that, “there really is no law to apply that might restrain the agency, even with a sympathetic judge.”
It falls to you to put a stop to Wildlife Services’ alleged abuse and ineffective programs. Please take action now to reform Wildlife Services.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Shannon