Oregon Articles – EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists http://www.environews.tv The Final Frontier of Investigative Reporting Sat, 21 Sep 2019 05:14:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 21904165 Rep. Peter DeFazio is out to Stop USDA’s Cruel Wolf and Coyote Poison Bombs for Good http://www.environews.tv/033117-rep-peter-defazio-stop-usdas-cruel-wolf-coyote-poison-bombs-good/ http://www.environews.tv/033117-rep-peter-defazio-stop-usdas-cruel-wolf-coyote-poison-bombs-good/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2017 14:43:09 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=12394 (EnviroNews Oregon) — Washington D.C. — On March 30, 2017, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017 (H.R. 1817), which seeks to ban the use of two deadly poisons, Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide, for predator control efforts throughout the United States. These…

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(EnviroNews Oregon) — Washington D.C. — On March 30, 2017, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017 (H.R. 1817), which seeks to ban the use of two deadly poisons, Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide, for predator control efforts throughout the United States. These two poisons are currently used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) predator killing program, which according to its own report, slew over 1.6 million native U.S. animals in 2016.

Sodium Cyanide is used in M-44 devices, also known as “cyanide bombs,” which are deadly spring-activated ground weapons placed to kill coyotes and other predators. Compound 1080 is used in “livestock protection collars,” which are placed around the necks of sheep and release lethal poison when the collar is punctured by predators or any sharp object. M-44s can spray cyanide up to 5 feet and the collars contain enough poison to kill six adult humans. These two poison-based weapons result in injury or painful death for whoever encounters them. They have often led to the mortality of domesticated animals and endangered species and have injured humans as well. Both of the toxins were banned under President Nixon in 1972 but reintroduced in the 80s.

“These are totally indiscriminate and unnecessary devices. They often hit non-target species or hit even potentially targeted species that are not responsible for livestock kills. There’s no earthly reason why this agency should be using these and they kill in a most inhumane manner. I think they are something that’s sort of a poster child for the excesses and the problems with this agency,” Rep. DeFazio explained to EnviroNews in a one-on-one exclusive the day before the bill was introduced.

He discussed the recent incident in Idaho in which a young boy was hospitalized and a family dog was killed when they discovered an M-44 within a quarter mile of their home. “It’s certainly not the first time that it’s happened with these [devices] and I’ve been saying for a long time, it’s only a matter of time until a child is killed. In this case, the wind just happened to be blowing the right way,” said DeFazio. This incident was also cited as a motivation for a March 28 petition from a coalition of 20 wildlife groups to WS, seeking an immediate ban of the cyanide bombs in Idaho.

“Those of us involved with this issue know these incidents are common-place and that countless more will never be known because of Wildlife Services’ repeated cover-ups. We applaud this legislation and thank Congressman DeFazio for his unfailing support on this issue.” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense, in a press release.

“I have been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of lethal devices and poisons like Compound 1080 and the chemicals used in M-44 devices for decades, even as a Lane County Commissioner,” DeFazio said in the release. “These extreme so-called ‘predator control’ methods have been proven no more effective than nonlethal methods — the only difference between the two is that the lethal methods supported by the ranching industry are subsidized by American tax dollars.” DeFazio told EnviroNews he thinks taxpayer dollars should “absolutely not” be funding WS’s predator killing endeavors.

He also commented on WS’s secrecy and lack of public transparency. “They are an obstinately opaque and insulated agency. It’s a very dispersed agency; basically the state agencies operate on their own…the whole process is very unaccountable to the national office,” although he’s not sure the national office cares to carry out much monitoring or control anyway. He recently applauded Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s recommended budget cuts to predator control programs at the Oregon Departments of Agriculture (ODA) and Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), which would reduce the money available to Oregon counties with WS contracts.

DeFazio told Harper’s Magazine in 2016, he tried to acquire “detailed numbers about finances and operations, [but] they won’t give us this information. I’ve served on the Homeland Security Committee, and Wildlife Services is more difficult to get information from than our intelligence agencies.” He told EnviroNews, “They’re very resistant and very much protected by the Department of Agriculture.”

He also pointed out WS never tries to “use nonlethal methods and what they end up doing is making the problem worse at public expense.” The above-mentioned petition explains non-selective killing methods like the poisons are often counter-productive; they result in unintended killings, disturb ecosystem balances, can lead to increased livestock loss and have not been proven economical. DeFazio mentioned the use of guard dogs and shepherds as examples of nonlethal solutions and numerous other nonlethal options exist, including flaggery (flagging) and solar-powered electric fencing.

“The federal government should not be using these extreme measures,” DeFazio concluded in the press release. “It’s time to stop subsidizing ranchers’ livestock protection efforts with taxpayer dollars and end the unchecked authority of Wildlife Services once and for all.”

MORE GREAT WILDLIFE REPORTS FROM ENVIRONEWS

20 Environmental Groups Jointly Demand Wildlife Services Ban M-44 Cyanide Bombs in Idaho

(EnviroNews Idaho) – On March 28, 2017, a coalition of wildlife and conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to immediately ban M-44 devices in Idaho. M-44s are cyanide bombs used by WS to kill…

USDA’s ‘Cruel,’ ‘Illegal’ Cyanide Bombs for Wolves and Coyotes Killing Dogs, Hospitalizing Kids

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Bannock County, Idaho – On March 16, 2017, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield was playing fetch with his dog Kasey, in Bannock County, Idaho, when an M-44 cyanide bomb sprayed him and killed his dog. The lethal device was placed by the U.S. Department of…

Bill Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups, Sails Through Senate to Trump’s Desk

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On March 21, 2017, in a 52-47 vote, the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69), a Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule), which has been in…

Predator Bloodbath: ‘Secretive’ Federal Agency Wildlife Services Kills 1.6 Million Native Animals in 2016

(EnviroNews Nature) – Wildlife Services (WS), a little-known wildlife-killing program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), killed 2,744,010 animals in 2016, 1,594,595 of which were native to the U.S. The agency shared this death toll in its annual program data…

After a Century, ‘Landmark Settlement’ Puts Brakes on Federal Government’s ‘Rogue’ Wildlife-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Nature) – Missoula, Montana – Well, it only took a century, but it has happened at last: Something finally put the brakes on Wildlife Services (WS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “secretive,” “rogue,” “cruel” wildlife-killing agency – and that “something” is the environmental non-profit organization WildEarth…

‘Secret’ Federal Agency Admits Killing 3.2 Million Wild Animals in U.S. Last Year Alone

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington D.C. – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) admitted in its annual Program Data Report to having killed at least 3.2 million wild animals in 2015 alone – many of which were large predators. 1,681,283 of that total…

Lions and Tigers and… Sage Grouse? Oh My! – The Granddaddy Endangered Species Battle of Them All

(EnviroNews Nature) – On March 3, 2017, EnviroNews Nature released one of the largest and most expansive documentaries ever published on a wildlife species in peril – the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). The academic yet entertaining film spans a plethora of topics and includes intersecting interviews, viewpoints…

Wyoming Wolves Stripped of Endangered Species Act Protection – Shoot-on-Sight Policy Restored

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Gray wolves (Canis lupus) will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the state of Wyoming. That was the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 3, 2017, which also happened to be…

Republicans Lick Chops While Revving Up To Dismantle The Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Nature) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 15, 2017, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) held a hearing called, “Oversight: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the EPW, held this two-hour hearing to explore “the need to modernize…

300 NGO and Environmental Orgs Demand via Joint Letter Ntl. Guvs Assoc. Protect Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 23, 2017, a coalition of almost 300 NGO, environment, conservation and social justice groups concerned with the now uncertain future of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) sent a letter to the National Governors Association (NGA). The letter was…

WildEarth Guardians Sues Colorado over Plan to Kill Black Bears, Mountain Lions

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW), the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources are being sued by WildEarth Guardians (WEG) for their December approval of two predator-killing programs. Through the Piceance Basin Predator Management…

Report: 86% of North America’s Bird Species Struggling or in Crisis – 33% Facing Extinction

(EnviroNews Nature) – One in three North American bird species are of “high concern” to conservationists with an additional 50% struggling badly, according to the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). The group’s annual report The State of North America’s Birds 2016 makes for grim reading by suggesting…

POLL CLOSED: Should USDA’s Secretive Wildlife Killing Program Be Abolished? Yes/No – VIEW RESULTS

(EnviroNews Polls) – 3.2 million animals. That is the amount of critters and creatures brutally eradicated by Wildlife Services (WS) in America last year alone, by way of traps, snares, bullets and poisons – all with your tax dollars of course (at least if you are a U.S….

Five Environmental Groups Sue USDA Over Idaho Wolf-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On June 1, 2016, five prominent environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services for killing over 650 wolves in the state of Idaho over the past decade. Wildlife Services is…

Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

Federal Judge Orders Stop to Canadian Lynx Trapping in Idaho

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – A federal judge has ordered a stop to the haphazard trapping of Canadian Lynx in Idaho. Lynx canadensis, as it is scientifically known, is one of the rarest cats in the United States and has been captured multiple times in Idaho over…

Feds Attempting to Strip Yellowstone Grizzly Bear of Endangered Species Act Protection

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Missoula, Montana – In a move that has angered environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed on March 3, 2016, to strip the iconic Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear of its protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),…

Poll Closed: Should U.S. Government Maintain a Wolf-Killing Program? Yes or No? – View Results

(EnviroNews Polls) – In December of 2015, several environmental groups, spearheaded by WildEarth Guardians, won a pivotal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency, for its wolf-killing program in Washington State. On February 3, 2016, WildEarth Guardians, in concert with four other groups, filed…

No Endangered Species Act Protection for Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Interior Announces

(EnviroNews Arizona) – Washington D.C. – The Morafka’s, or Sonoran desert tortoise, or Gopherus morafkai as it is scientifically known, is a slow moving, yet ancient creature that gets its water from eating native plants while spending most of its time in underground insulated burrows that it digs…

POLL: Should Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Be Delisted, Hunted and Killed? Yes/No? (Feds Say Yes)

(EnviroNews Polls) – On March 3, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed a new rule that would delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear, and advocate the hunting and elimination of at least 200 of the region’s approximately 715 specimens. The move fueled…

Will Redrawing Core Sage Grouse Areas in Wyoming Help Save the Bird From Extinction?

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – In late April a gloomy report was issued by Pew Charitable Trusts that claims there is a 98.7 percent chance greater sage grouse will go extinct in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin in 30 years if the current course continues. The Powder River…

Dept. of Interior: No Protection for Greater Sage Grouse Under Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Commerce City, Colorado – On the morning of Tuesday August 22, 2015, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced that Centrocercus urophasianus, a.k.a. greater sage grouse, will not receive protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A decision by U.S. Fish…

ALERT: GOP Attempting to Kill Environmental Regs Across The Board With Sneaky Budget Riders

(EnviroNews World News) – Washington, DC – It seems like we, at EnviroNews, have been reporting on this type of thing all year. That is, sketchy environmental riders being attached to totally unrelated appropriations bills in backdoor efforts to kill environmental and wildlife protections. Yes, this year’s spending…

Obama Administration Comes Out Against NDAA Sage Grouse Rider

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington DC – In a surprising environmentally-friendly move today following the Department of the Interior’s green light for Shell Oil Company’s arctic drilling ambitions yesterday, the Obama Administration came out against a controversial rider in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that…

Sec. Sally Jewell Announces DOI Will Not List Bi-State Sage Grouse as Endangered

(EnviroNews Nevada) – Reno, Nevada – To the dismay and disappointment of environmentalists, conservationists and biologist alike, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced on April 21, 2015 (which also happened to be Earth Day) that the bi-state sage grouse will not be making its way…

WA State Stops Bloodshed After Massacring Profanity Peak Wolf Pack To Appease Cattle Ranchers

(EnviroNews Washington) – Olympia, Washington – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced October 19, 2016, that it would spare the remaining four members of the now demolished Profanity Peak Wolf Pack, after already having killed seven of its wolves (Canis lupus) to appease cattle ranchers….

WildEarth Guardians: DOI’s Bi-State Sage Grouse ‘Conservation Success’ Is ‘Window Dressing’

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – On April 21, 2015 Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Sally Jewell appeared in Reno, Nevada to make a pivotal Bi-State Sage Grouse Announcement: No protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the bi-state distinct population of the greater…

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It’s Finally Here: Radioactive Plume From Fukushima Makes Landfall on America’s West Coast http://www.environews.tv/121216-seaborne-cesium-134-fukushima-makes-landfall-us-1st-time-oregon-coast/ http://www.environews.tv/121216-seaborne-cesium-134-fukushima-makes-landfall-us-1st-time-oregon-coast/#comments Mon, 12 Dec 2016 19:47:53 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=11046 (EnviroNews Oregon) — Tillamook County, Oregon — Seaborne cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint of Fukushima,” has been detected on US shores for the first time researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) said this month. WHOI is a crowd-funded science seawater sampling project, that has been monitoring…

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(EnviroNews Oregon) — Tillamook County, Oregon — Seaborne cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint of Fukushima,” has been detected on US shores for the first time researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) said this month.

WHOI is a crowd-funded science seawater sampling project, that has been monitoring the radioactive plume making its way across the Pacific to America’s west coast, from the demolished Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in eastern Japan.

The seawater samples were taken from the shores of Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach, and were actually obtained in January and February of 2016 and tested later in the year.

In other strikingly similar news reported last month, researchers at the Fukushima InFORM project in Canada, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen, said they sampled a sockeye salmon from Okanagan Lake in British Columbia that tested positive for cesium 134 as well.

Multiple other reports have circulated online, mostly in alternative media outlets, and mostly not corroborated by any tangible measurement data, that point to cases of possible radioactive contamination of Canadian salmon, but EnviroNews Oregon has not independently confirmed any of these claims.

Testing Fish for Radiation in Sushi Restaurant

Testing Fish for Radiation in Sushi Restaurant

Cesium 134 is called the “footprint of Fukushima” because of its fast rate of decay. With a half life of only 2.06 years, there are few other places the dangerous and carcinogenic isotope could have originated.

It is important to note that airborne radioactive fallout from the initial explosion and meltdowns at Fukushima in 2011 reached the US and Canada within days, and circled the globe falling out wherever the currents and precipitation carried it — mostly to places unknown to this day. Even still, radioactive iodine 131 was found in municipal water supplies in places like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts shortly after the initial Fukushima accident — a triple meltdown ranked by EnviroNews USA as the most destructive environmental catastrophe in human history.

The samples from the Oregon coast measured around 0.3 becquerels per cubic meter for cesium 134. Researchers in both the US and Canada said the recently detected radiation levels were extremely low and pose “no risk to humans or the environment.” Sadly, NBC, the New York Post, USA Today, and even The Inquisitr amongst others, took the bait and reported the same thing.

Medical science and epidemiological studies have demonstrated time and again that there is no safe amount of ionizing radiation for a living organism to be subjected to — period. With each subsequent exposure, no matter how small, the subject experiences an increase in cancer risk. In the wake of Fukushima, several governments, and certainly the Japanese government, have raised the “safe” annual limit for radiation exposure for humans — this critics say, to lower legal liability and to placate concerns from the public, in an increasingly radioactive world. Now, many citizens look on in worry, waiting for more testing and data on ocean waters and the seafood they so greatly enjoy.

MORE ON FUKUSHIMA FROM ENVIRONEWS

Nuclear Hogs: Radioactive Wild Boars Running Amok Around Fukushima; Hunters Deployed

(EnviroNews World News) – Fukushima Prefecture, Japan – Radioactive wild boars are running amok near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant on the eastern coast of Japan. The animals have migrated down from the mountains into the virtual ghost towns surrounding the site of the world’s worst nuclear…

Fukushima Robot Fried Again, But Confrims Astronomical Radiation, Cleanup Impossible for Decades

(EnviroNews World News) – Fukushima Prefecture, Japan – Dismantling the crumpled reactors and recovering the melted fuel at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant in eastern Japan now relies on technology that hasn’t even been invented yet, as Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) flies blindly into an abyss…

ALERT: New Radiation Readings in Fukushima Reactor 2 Are ‘Unimaginable,’ Lethal in 1 Min.

(EnviroNews World News) – Fukushima Prefecture, Japan – On February 2, 2017, radiation levels in the Reactor 2 vessel at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 power plant in eastern Japan, were measured at the highest levels since the triple reactor core meltdowns on March 11, 2011, The…

No ‘Safe’ Level Period: How The Media Got It Dangerously Wrong on Fukushima Radiation Hitting The West Coast

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – “It is not a question any more: radiation produces cancer, and the evidence is good all the way down to the lowest doses,” says the late Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkley, in his book Nuclear Witnesses: Insiders…

Editorial: 5 Yrs. Later, TEPCO Finally Admits It Lied To The World About Fukushima Meltdowns

(EnviroNews World News) – Fukushima Prefecture, Japan – EDITORIAL: THE TRUTH: Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) knew within hours following the 3/11/11 tsunami that a full-scale, multi-reactor nuclear meltdown was underway. THE LIE: TEPCO waited nearly two months to inform the public. Those were the staggering admissions handed…

BUSTED: Former TEPCO Bosses Indicted For Deadly Negligence in Fukushima Meltdowns

(EnviroNews World News) – Nearly five years after the tsunami and subsequent triple nuclear reactor meltdown that rocked Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan, for the first time, criminal charges have been filed, in what is still unfurling as arguably the worst manmade environmental disaster in history. Three…

Radioactive Water Pileup Problem Still Festering at Fukushima: 1106 Tanks and Counting

(EnviroNews World News) – A new photo released this week starkly demonstrates how severe the radioactive water storage crisis on the ground at Fukushima Daiichi really is. Published in The Asahi Shimbun , the aerial photo shows a scene resembling that of a “giant integrated circuit board”…

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Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon http://www.environews.tv/020416-wildlife-services-program-sued-for-killing-wolves-in-oregon/ http://www.environews.tv/020416-wildlife-services-program-sued-for-killing-wolves-in-oregon/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:48:37 +0000 http://environews.tv/?p=8536 (EnviroNews Oregon) — Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

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(EnviroNews Oregon) — Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon.

WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project Coyote are represented in the case by John Mellgren of the Western Environmental Law Center, while Nick Cady serves as legal council to Cascadia Wildlands on the suit.

Wildlife Services is an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), charged with resolving wildlife threats to civilian health and property, natural resources, and agricultural projects. While USDA-APHIS says Wildlife Services’ purpose is to provide “federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist,” environmental groups say the project is little more than a “federal killing-program.”

Wildlife Services has been eliminating wolves in Oregon and other places — shooting the creatures from helicopters in an effort to protect livestock and other ranching interests. The agency only does so at the request of designated state agencies like Oregon’s Division of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and Reuters reports no such request has been made in the state since 2012.

Gray Wolf in Oregon

Gray Wolf in Oregon


Nevertheless, the lawsuit contends Wildlife Services is required by law via the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide an adequate environmental impact statement (EIS) before such programs are carried out — something the conservation groups say Wildlife Services failed to perform. Furthermore, the coalition asserts Wildlife Services didn’t demonstrate why fatal methods were necessary as opposed to other non-lethal techniques.

Amongst those non-lethal tactics are range riders, livestock-guarding dogs and shepherds, and getting rid of dead animal carcasses quickly so as to not attract predators to herds in the first place. But some conservation groups refer to Wildlife Services as a “rogue” agency that has been taking the easy way out with traumatizing aerial assaults on gray wolves and other wild canines.

“Federal law requires Wildlife Services to conduct a full and fair evaluation of the ecological impacts of its wolf-killing program in Oregon, and it failed to do so,” said Mellgren in a statement.

“Wildlife Services’ refusal to ensure its activities are based on the best available science leads to unnecessary and harmful killing and strips the public of an opportunity to meaningfully understand and contribute to decisions impacting the health of ecosystems on which we all depend,” said Bethany Cotton, Wildlife Program Director at WildEarth Guardians. “It’s past time the dark practices of Wildlife Services are subjected to the sunshine of a transparent public process,” Cotton continued.

Gray Wolf in Oregon

Gray Wolf in Oregon


Pam Boehland, a spokeswoman with USDA, declined comment to EnviroNews Oregon and deflected questions to the Department of Justice (DOJ) which is handling the case, saying as policy USDA “[won’t] comment on pending litigation.” EnviroNews Oregon also spoke with Wyn Hornbuckle of DOJ’s public affairs office who has so far failed to provide a written statement. EnviroNews Oregon will update this article if DOJ chooses to do so at a later time.

SETTING PRECEDENT

Approximately 81 gray wolves remain in the Beaver State — certainly an improvement from zero — the number that was left after the iconic predator was exterminated completely from Oregon in the twentieth century. But conservation groups want those animals preserved and say non-lethal methods can do just that — while reducing conflicts with humans at the same time.

Gray Wolf in Oregon

Gray Wolf in Oregon


Two of the plaintiffs, WildEarth Guardians and Center for Biological Diversity, are alone responsible for hundreds of species receiving protection — under the Endangered Species Act and through other courses of action as well. The two organizations have a remarkably successful track-record when it comes to safeguarding imperiled critters, with Center for Biological Diversity boasting a 93% success rate in its protective lawsuits — not very good odds for Wildlife Services.

The Oregon legal filing comes on the heels of a victory for conservation groups in neighboring Washington state, handed down in December of 2015 in a very similar suit, after a group sued Wildlife Services on the same grounds for its wolf-killing practices there. The Washington suit was again executed by Western Environmental Law Center, but for a slightly different coalition including, WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, and Kettle Range Conservation Group.

The Washington case hinged largely on a peer-reviewed study conducted over 25 years — and that research shot holes in Wildlife Services’ defense like it shoots bullet holes in gray wolves. Amongst other things, the study demonstrates livestock deaths from wolves actually increase in areas where lethal control methods are used.

Behavioral experts say social melee ensues when pack-members, and especially alpha females, are killed. The subsequent lack of leadership, and disruption of the pecking order, often results in unruly behavior within the pack, which can also lead to an uptick in livestock attacks.

Gray Wolf in Oregon

Gray Wolf in Oregon


Cotton of WildEarth Guardians also told EnviroNews that since in wolf-packs only the alpha female breeds and has pups, when alphas are killed, multiple submissive females can then experience estrous simultaneously. As a result, wolf populations can rise — and under socially chaotic circumstances.

WildEarth Guardians is the sole plaintiff in yet another ongoing lawsuit against Wildlife Services in Nevada for many of the same reasons outlined in the Washington and Oregon complaints — but namely, a failure by the agency to provide up-to-speed, comprehensive EISs for animal killing programs. In the Nevada case, coyote shooting and raven poisoning were amongst the items addressed.

Initially, WildEarth Guardians lost the case, but that ruling was reversed in August of 2015, when a federal appeals court kicked it back to district court. Regarding that decision, Sandra Chereb of Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote:

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with WildEarth Guardians, which argued that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Wildlife Services program, relied on outdated information and should have prepared a Nevada-specific environmental impact statement in 2011 before continuing the program.

With multiple similar rulings and lawsuits coming down against Wildlife Services for its lethal animal control methods, a precedent might be emerging that could establish strong legal grounds for a challenge to the program’s mode of operation altogether — something the agency has failed to comment on.

Wildlife Services was defunded briefly in the 90s, but was reinstated shortly thereafter. Still, Cotton says WildEarth Guardians’ position is not for the abolition of the agency entirely, but to see its mission and purpose revamped. Cotton says despite the program’s controversial wildlife killing modality, that it still carries out some meaningful duties like working to avoid collisions with birds at airports.

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