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Western Watersheds Project is taking the Wildlife Services to court for its killing of thousands of animals in Idaho each year, largely at the behest of the livestock industry.
In a complaint filed today, WWP and partners WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, and Project Coyote explain that Idaho’s Wildlife Services has never taken a comprehensive look at the impacts of killing these animals, instead relying on stale, decades-old documents. The agency spends millions of dollars and thousands of hours to kill thousands of wolves, coyotes, foxes, beavers, cougars, birds, and other wildlife species across Idaho each year, using aerial and ground shooting, poisons, traps, explosives, and other cruel methods. The agency even uses the notorious toxic devices known as M-44s that spray sodium cyanide into the victim’s mouth, causing tremendous suffering and releasing toxic chemicals into the environment.
Additionally, the agency has never comprehensively examined how its actions affect grizzly bears, Canada lynx, and bull trout, all protected under the Endangered Species Act. The agency sets traps and snares across the state that accidentally capture and kill federally protected wildlife, as well as domestic pets. Two lynx have already been trapped by the agency. Bull trout are killed when the agency detonates explosives to blow up beaver dams, an anachronistic practice whose time is long gone.
One of the agency’s most pervasive activities- killing carnivores such as wolves and coyotes to protect public lands livestock- is especially egregious, since new science shows that the killing only serves to increase conflicts with livestock. Thus, the killing is not only morally wrong, but fails even to achieve its own warped purpose.
Wildlife Services must consider this science, and drastically alter its practices accordingly, as recently demanded by WWP and allies in comments submitted to Wildlife Services last month.
Wildlife Services’ carnivore killing is just one of the countless ecological costs of public lands livestock grazing, and underscores why an end to public lands grazing is desperately needed to achieve ecological recovery of carnivores and other species.
The groups are represented by WWP’s Kristin Ruether and Advocates for the West’s Laurie Rule and Talasi Brooks.
Today’s complaint can be found online here.