Several Protected Species Killed in 2005
Washington, DC — A federal agency killed several specially- protected species in 2005, according to records it released last week. In 2005, the USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services killed three bald eagles (two by leg-hold traps, one by sodium cyanide gun); one golden eagle (by necksnare); two grizzly bears (leg snares); and 252 gray wolves (aerial gunning, trapping, and shooting).
Last week, conservation groups Sinapu and Forest Guardians demanded that that Wildlife Services (formerly known as “Animal Damage Control”) release its 2005 and 2006 records, which it had refused to do for eight months.
After receiving the groups’ March 12th demand letter and calls from the press, Wildlife Services posted a portion of its records in its electronic reading room. Wildlife Service remains in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and in contempt of a federal court’s order.
“Though this new posting is a substantial step towards legal compliance, the agency has yet to obtain complete transparency as required by FOIA,” says Melissa Hailey, attorney for Forest Guardians. “We will continue to pressure Wildlife Services until it releases all of its data for 2005 and 2006.”
“While Congress tries to get Alberto Gonzales to reveal his role in federal prosecutors’ firings, we’re engaged in the same battle—trying to get the federal government to divulge secret acts—and in this case, records pertaining to federal wildlife management,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu. “We’re disturbed that bald and golden eagles, wolves, and grizzly bears were killed.”
According to its figures, APHIS-Wildlife Services killed approximately six million animals in the period 2003 to 2005.
In 2005, Wildlife Service killed:
• 1.2 million starlings and 300,000 other birds, including a snowy owl (made famous in the Harry Potter movies), several hawks, eagles, song birds, and water birds.
• About 50,000 animals from the rodent and rabbit families—the largest toll came from beavers (33,000), nutria (3,000), and marmots and woodchucks (3,000).
• 99,346 native carnivores, such as 73,000 coyotes, 500 badgers, 2,200 bobcats, and 10,000 raccoons.
Wildlife Services had three notable changes from 2004 to 2005:
• In 2004, Wildlife Services killed 2.7 million animals against 1.7 in 2005.
• The agency had less money to work with: Wildlife Services’ budget in 2005 was $99.8 million—$1.7 million less than in 2004 ($101.5 million)—much of Wildlife Services’ funding comes from tax dollars.
• Wildlife Services killed 3,000 fewer mammalian carnivores overall in 2005, but the agency killed more endangered species. While they killed 2,800 fewer coyotes, 596 raccoons, and 123 arctic foxes, they killed 60 more gray wolves.
“We are encouraged by Wildlife Services’ newest posting, which shows the magnitude of its most recent lethal activities” said Melissa Hailey, attorney for Forest Guardians. “We are concurrently astonished, however, at the number of legally protected, charismatic species lost at the hands of this violent agency.”
Wildlife Services has not yet formally responded to the groups’ demand letter, which called for the release of all 2005 and 2006 agency data. Sinapu and Forest Guardians say they are prepared to take legal action under the FOIA if necessary to compel complete disclosure.
Wendy Keefover-Ring, Sinapu: 303.447.8655, EXT. 1#
Melissa Hailey, Forest Guardians: 505.988.9126, Ext. 159
View Wildlife Services’ Annual Tables
View Sinapu & Forest Guardian’s Demand & FOIA Letters
View Court’s 2000 Order