Under various names Wildlife Services has exterminated millions of animals since the early part of the 20th century, targeting native carnivores like coyotes and foxes, beavers, birds and many other species at the behest of agribusiness interests. The agency contributed to the decline of gray wolves, black-footed ferrets, black bears and other endangered species -- and it continues to impede their recovery today.
The past five years have been some of the most active for the agency, with about 1.5 million native animals killed each year. And this killing goes on unchecked -- without public accountability, oversight or clear rules.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition in December to put an end to the massacre. We're calling for this U.S. Department of Agriculture agency to operate under new rules to ensure that animals aren't killed without cause or by accident, that animals are only killed when nonlethal means are exhausted, and that reliable information on all killings is made public.
Please act now to tell Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to rein in this out-of-control, wildlife-killing agency.
The agency currently known as Wildlife Services has been around for about a century and, during that time, has contributed to the extermination of black-footed ferrets, prairie dogs, wolves, grizzly bears, foxes and many other animals native to the American landscape.
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Devastating criticisms have been leveled against this agency for years -- for its lack of transparency and persecution of the nation's most vulnerable animals. It carries out its activities in violation of environmental laws and at the behest of a small, powerful agribusiness constituency that does not reflect the interests of the American public.
Throughout its history Wildlife Services has never had a regulatory code to guide its activities. Unlike every other federal agency, it has no rules reflecting the nation's policies governing wildlife or requiring it to hold its employees accountable. So it is not surprising that Wildlife Services has become known as a rogue agency, unaccountable to all and routinely flouting the law.
It is time for you to show your leadership by conducting a full rulemaking process of Wildlife Services with public participation. In the absence of binding rules that reform and make Wildlife Services a useful agency to the broader American public, there is no purpose for such an agency to exist any longer.