It’s a brand new year and with this new year we get a bipartisan investigation into the worst federal agency in existence. Wildlife Services.
Oh it sounds innocuous, but it’s purpose is to kill wildlife that are bugging you.
For eight decades, Wildlife Services has specialized in trapping, shooting and poisoning predators for farmers and ranchers. More recently it has expanded into killing and controlling geese, pigeons and other species in urban areas.
So in one fell swoop the animals could potentially get a break and bullpucky subsidies for farmers and ranchers can go away. I like it.
“Why should taxpayers, particularly in tough times, pay to subsidize private interests?” said DeFazio, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources. “I have come to the conclusion that this is an agency whose time has passed.”
He said he had to learn from the Los Angeles Times about an internal audit the agency conducted last year. The audit found the agency’s accounting practices were “unreconcilable,” lacked transparency and violated state and federal laws. Further, the audit revealed that $12 million in a special account could not be found.
“The last time I tried to get more specific financial information, they just blew me off and said they couldn’t provide that,” DeFazio said in an interview. “Yet, at the same time, they were undertaking this audit. So, the managers were, at best, disingenuous, and at worst, undertaking a coverup.”
Oh let’s not stop there:
Part of the difficulty of wildlife control work is making sure the lethal methods reach only the intended targets. Cyanide traps set for coyotes can kill other animals. Many domestic dogs — thousands, by the accounting of watchdog groups — have been inadvertently poisoned by capsules meant for coyotes.
Rex Shaddox, a former Wildlife Services agent in Wyoming, said agents “were told to doctor our reports — we were not allowed to show we killed household pets.” Shaddox said he knew a rancher who kept a grisly souvenir of the agency’s collateral damage: a 10-foot chain of interconnected dog collars.
Shaddox says the agency rarely handles federally controlled poisons legally. Agents are required to post signs where pesticides and poisons are placed and maintain detailed logs. But supervisors tell them not to, Shaddox and other former agents said.
Wildlife Services agents have also been accused of animal cruelty, particularly in the use of dogs to control and kill coyotes. Last year, a Wyoming-based trapper posted photographs to his Facebook page showing his dogs savaging a coyote caught in a leg-hold trap. Other pictures showed the agent’s animals mauling bobcats and raccoons.
There are so many things wrong with this agency that it needs to go away, vs being audited and improved.
Let this be the year that real good legislation such as deleting this mess actually happens!