Re "Whom does Wildlife Services serve?," Jan. 5
Thank you for your story on the secretive federal agency that kills millions of wild animals every year, including endangered species. Beyond investigating the U.S. Wildlife Services' indiscriminate killing at the behest of the livestock industry, federal officials should require that the agency's activities are guided by the kind of legally binding regulations that structure other federal agencies.
Because of a quirk in how the agency was set up, Wildlife Services has always been a largely autonomous agency left to operate as it pleases with no clearly defined public mission or oversight by Congress.
To change that, the conservation organization I work for submitted a petition last month asking the Department of Agriculture to put basic rules in place to regulate the agency's activities — rules that govern virtually every other federal agency.
Without those rules, the chaos will continue.
The writer is the senior scientist and public lands deserts director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
I take exception to the use of the phrase "nuisance wildlife" in describing canine predators. These animals balance ecosystems, keep populations of other animals in check and help to preserve species diversity.
As an example, when gray wolves were "successfully" eradicated in Yellowstone National Park starting in the 1920s, more was lost than an iconic predator. Free of the natural population limits imposed by wolves, uncontrolled populations of elk nearly wiped out the park's aspen trees, proving once again that nature's systems of checks and balances aren't necessarily improved by our simplistic meddling.
The disappearance of keystone species can trigger the loss of other resident species and create a domino effect. Although Wildlife Services clearly doesn't stop to consider this, top predators play a crucial role in a healthy ecosystem.
As John Muir once said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
Thanks for exposing the extreme cruelty and bogus rationale for the war on wildlife by this rogue agency. Thanks to Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and John Campbell (R-Irvine) for initiating an investigation.
Animal groups have long tried to stop this agency. My files are full of haunting photographs, including some of dead coyotes being hoisted by helicopters, eagles and other animals killed by secondary poisoning and the slaughter of prairie dogs because a cow might trip in their holes.
Ranchers use our public lands but pay below-market rates and then have wildlife exterminated. The article states that golf courses and other businesses also use this "service," and we are reminded of the countless pets killed by this agency.
I look forward to more articles on this investigation.
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