Over a hundred conservation, wildlife, and animal welfare groups have sent a letter to incoming Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging him to rethink the often cruel practice of “lethal control” of wildlife by the USDA. The coalition contends that animals are killed through such means as shooting from airplanes and helicopters, poisoning, gassing dens, bludgeoning after capture, and strangling in wire snares.
In 2007, the USDA spent $100 million of taxpayer money to kill 2.4 million wild animals, including 90,262 coyotes, 2,277 gray foxes, 2,412 red foxes, 2,090 bobcats, 1,133 cats, 552 dogs, 577 badgers, and 340 gray wolves.
“Wildlife Services has much blood on its hands. The agency is committing crimes against animals that make Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels look like doggy day care,” said Brian Vincent of the group Big Wildlife.
Other members of the 115-group coalition include the Center for Biological Diversity, Creation Care Study Program, Christians for Environmental Stewardship, Humane Society of the United States, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Sierra Club, and Ranchers for Rural Responsibility.
The coalition advocates non-lethal livestock protection methods in the letter. They commend ranchers who protect their property with dogs, llamas, and burros, and those who mix cattle and sheep to reduce attacks from predators. The groups also recommend nighttime penning, penning during lambing and calving season, removing livestock carcasses from pastures, and the use of strobes and sirens.