Dear Secretary Vilsack,
I am writing today to urge you to reform Wildlife Services into a program that can effectively resolve wildlife conflicts without relying on excessive lethal control.
[Your comments will be inserted here.]
More than 100,000 animals are killed each year by Wildlife Services. Tens of thousands of animals have been killed by mistake over the past decade -- including family pets and federally protected wildlife.
The 'kill-first' mentality is especially prevalent in the West as the program focuses on killing wolves, coyotes, bears and other predators that are key to healthy ecosystems.
Recently Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Tom Knudson highlighted the major problems with Wildlife Services in a three-part article in the Sacramento Bee. His reporting shows that Wildlife Services' heavy reliance on killing is expensive, often ineffective and can cause more problems than it aims to resolve.
I urge you to reform Wildlife Services into a program that can more effectively address wildlife conflicts by:
* Assisting livestock producers with the use of non-lethal approaches to address wildlife damage conflicts and provide incentives to livestock producers for non-lethal approaches.
* Eliminating the use of non-selective lethal controls, including sodium cyanide, theobromine, and Compound 1080
* Verifying livestock losses before any actions are taken; define how livestock losses must be documented and who must verify those losses.
* Using science-backed decision making: measure success based on reduced rates of depredation rather than body counts, and define using science-backed criteria under what circumstances Wildlife Services will initiate actions.
* Not killing wolves and other predators for the purposes of artificially boosting ungulate populations such as elk and deer, especially on public lands.
I don't want my tax dollars to be used to support Wildlife Services' current misguided and archaic 'kill-first' policy. The program should instead reduce wildlife conflicts and encourage peaceful coexistence with predators by using and promoting non-lethal tools and best management practices to preemptively reduce livestock loss.
Thank you for considering my comments on this important matter.
[Your name here]