Air Crashes, Bio-Agent Security Lapses and Mega-Poison Misuse Beset Feds

Washington, DC — Due to a rash of accidents, mishaps and security breaches, the federal agency which conducts mass wildlife extermination will undertake a nationwide safety review, according an agency circular released today by Sinapu and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The groups are calling on the agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture called Wildlife Services, to open this safety examination to public scrutiny.

The scope and severity of the security, safety and bio-hazard issues confronting Wildlife Services (WS) is staggering. In a November 5, 2007 “stakeholders” memo, WS Deputy Administrator William Clay writes that:

“In the wake of several accidents in WS’ programs, WS is conducting a nationwide safety review focusing on aviation and aerial operations, explosives and pyrotechnics, firearms, hazardous chemicals, immobilization and euthanasia, pesticides, vehicles, watercraft, and wildlife disease activities. The review will be conducted by subject matter experts from WS, federal and state government, and private industry. We expect the review to be completed in the next year.”

“Wildlife Services has identified so many safety problems, it is a wonder that it can focus on any one of them,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The extraordinary thing is that all of these risks are self-imposed as a direct function of agency mishandling, misapplication and mission creep.”

The groups have been calling for action against three of the greatest dangers from WS operations –

Aerial Crashes. Recent crashes in “aerial gunning” accidents – principally pursuit of coyotes via aircraft – have brought the death toll to 10 with more than 30 injuries. This summer, South Dakota grounded its personnel from aerial hunts after its fourth accident in less than ten years;

Stores of Dangerous Biological Agents. Two recent USDA Office of Inspector General audits faulted Wildlife services for inaccurate inventories, lack of controls against theft and unauthorized sales and violations of bioterrorism regulations; and

Highly Lethal Pesticides. Wildlife Services traps and techniques have been linked to inadvertent deaths of large numbers of wild and domestic animals as well as other environmental harms.

“Following every accident, Wildlife Services promises a review but then goes out and commits the same mistakes over and over,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu. “There needs to be an outside review because safety is certainly not the strong suit at Wildlife Services.”

The groups have petitioned USDA to end aerial gunning and have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to suspend registration for two of the most abused wildlife poisons employed by Wildlife Services. They are also calling upon Congress to redirect the more than $100 million annual WS budget which accounted for more than 1.6 million animals killed in 2006.


Wendy Keefover-Ring || Sinapu || 303.447.8655, Ext. 1#

Carol Goldberg ||PEER || 202.265.7337


See the Wildlife Services announcement of a national safety review

Read the Sinapu/PEER letter calling upon USDA to open the safety review to public scrutiny


Look at the growing toll from aerial gunning



View the failing grades Wildlife Services gets for mishandling potential bio-terror agents

Revisit efforts to ban abused wildlife poisons


Track the annual animal carnage claimed by Wildlife Services



  1. Pingback: Livestock Lobby Pressures to Retain Wildlife Poisons « Wild Again!!

  2. Just goes to show you that you can’t always trust a NAME when assessing an agency…

    Wildlife Services is merely a “hit squad” for the livestock industry. They will use anything the federal government allows in order to do their dastardly deeds. There is no respect for wildlife, their only interest is legalized extermination of given species for the sake of a few unprofitable special interests that wouldn’t exist but for governmental interference in the natural oder of life.

  3. Here is a link tht will allow you to make a comment to the Dept. of Homeland Sedurity. I hope this works.

  4. This is great news, and the Sinapu?PEER letter hit the nail on the head. I think that we should all support this effort by writing letters to our own public officials and to The Department Of Homeland Security. Be sure and tell them that you feel that the Dept of Ag. WS has neglegenltly, placed you and all citizens in a position vulnerable to attack by terrorists because of their easy access to the dangerous biological agents that have been banned by the DHS and to WS aircraft with which they could easily be used to spread these agents . Be sure and let them know that you intend to inform everyone you know of the discrepentcies between agencies and that you hope to bring media coverage to this issue. I’m going to write Oprah too.