Tag Archives: predatory

Report: USDA agency kills 2.7 million wild animals in 2014

New data from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services reveals that the somewhat secretive agency killed more than 2.7 million animals during fiscal year 2014, including wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes, eagles and other animals.

The services killed more than 4 million animals in 2013.

The latest report shows the killing of 322 gray wolves, 61,702 coyotes, 580 black bears, 305 mountain lions, 796 bobcats, 454 river otters, 2,930 foxes, three bald eagles, five golden eagles and 22,496 beavers, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The program also killed 15,698 black-tailed prairie dogs and destroyed more than 33,309 of their dens.

Also, agency insiders have revealed that the agency kills many more animals than it reports.

“It’s sickening to see these staggering numbers and to know that so many of these animals were cut down by aerial snipers, deadly poisons and traps,” said Amy Atwood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These acts of brutality are carried out every day, robbing our landscapes of bears, wolves, coyotes and other animals that deserve far better. Wildlife Services does its dirty work far from public view and clearly has no interest in cleaning up its act.”

Many animals – especially wolves, coyotes and prairie dogs – were targeted and killed on behalf of livestock grazers or other powerful agricultural interests, according to CBD. Wildlife Services does not reveal how many animals were wounded or injured, but not killed.

The report also shows that hundreds animals were killed unintentionally, including 390 river otters, as well as hundreds of badgers, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, jackrabbits, muskrats, raccoons, skunks, opossums, porcupines and 16 pet dogs.  

The data show that the federal program has refused to substantially slow its killing despite a growing public outcry, an ongoing investigation by the Agriculture Department’s inspector general, and calls for reform by scientists, members of Congress and nongovernmental organizations.

“Wildlife Services continues to thumb its nose at the growing number of Americans demanding an end to business as usual,” said Atwood. “This appalling and completely unnecessary extermination of American wildlife must stop.”

Just since 1996 Wildlife Services has shot, poisoned and strangled by snare more than 27 million native animals.

Federal judge rules against wolf hunting in Wyoming

A federal judge on Sept. 23 reinstated federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming, rejecting the state’s “wolf-management” plan that allowed them to be hunted as unprotected predators.

“The court has ruled and Wyoming’s kill-on-sight approach to wolf management throughout much of the state must stop,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who added that the “ruling restores much-needed federal protection to wolves throughout Wyoming, which allowed killing along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout national forest lands south of Jackson Hole where wolves were treated as vermin under state management. If Wyoming wants to resume management of wolves, it must develop a legitimate conservation plan that ensures a vibrant wolf population in the northern Rockies.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled in favor of national environmental groups that said protections were severely lacking for the wolf, for years considered an endangered species threatened with extinction. Earthjustice represented Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity in the complaint.

The judge said that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong to trust the state’s promises to protect at least 100 wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Environmentalists have said that Wyoming law authorized unlimited wolf killing in a “predator” zone that extended throughout most of the state, and provided inadequate protection for wolves even where killing was regulated.

The judge ended both predatory and trophy hunting of wolves in Wyoming.

“The court affirmed that delisting gray wolves in Wyoming by the Obama administration was premature and a violation of federal law,” said Defenders of Wildlife president and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark. “Any state that has a wolf-management plan that allows for unlimited wolf killing throughout most of the state should not be allowed to manage wolves. Wolves need to remain protected under the Endangered Species Act until the species is fully recovered. State laws and policies that treat wolves like vermin are as outdated and discredited today as they were a century ago.”

“We’re thrilled that protections for Wyoming’s fragile population of wolves have been restored,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “With Wyoming allowing wolves to be shot on sight across more than 80 percent of the state, there is no way protections for wolves should have ever been removed.”

The state, which claims the wolf population is stable, seems likely to seek a stay and appeal to allow the wolf hunting to continue. The state took over wolf management in 2012, after the federal government ruled that wolves did not need protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Wisconsin also has authorized wolf hunts, as have Minnesota and other states. Michigan voters will cast ballots this year on whether to sanction hunting wolves, but state lawmakers already canceled wolf hunting for this year.

Florida man arrested for predatory towing of cars at Gay Days

Authorities have arrested a man they say illegally towed cars during the 2014 Gay Days celebration in Orlando, Florida.

Orange County Sheriffs deputies arrested 45-year-old Jason Combs for towing more than 100 vehicles between June 5 and June 9. The annual festivities draw tens of thousands to the area. The arrest came after numerous complaints that Combs’ ASAP Towing company targeted victims based on their sexual orientation.

Authorities say ASAP Towing made some $16,000 towing the cars but lacked permission to do so.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that authorities said Combs lacked an up-to-date contract for towing vehicles — one contract expired in May, and the new contract was not awarded until mid-June, after the festival.

The newspaper also said police indicated that Combs targeted vehicles for towing during Gay Days in 2013.

Combs’ attorney said over the weekend that his client denied the charges. He said Combs did have a contract to tow vehicles parked illegally.

Investigators are also looking into collusion with cab companies who lined up to take stranded drivers to the tow lot. Combs faces 29 counts of grand theft auto.

Those whose vehicles were towed were assessed a $165 fee for the towing, plus a $40 gate fee at the tow lot, a fee not permitted under Florida law.

The complaint against Combs said spotters watched for people parking cars and quickly notified tow-truck operators.