In 2012*, California’s Mendocino County contracted with Wildlife Services — the rogue federal agency responsible for killing 4 million animals last year — to “control” their wildlife. The result? 459 animals dead in just 365 days, including coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, gray and red foxes, and numerous other species.
There’s no good reason for this killing. It’s done on bequest of private livestock owners and operators…although the public pays for it. It wreaks havoc on ecosystems by disproportionately targeting predators, which are at the top of the food chain. It’s often done by using indiscriminate methods, such as poisons and snares, that not only kill the animal(s) Wildlife Services is targeting but lots of others as well. And, if all that wasn’t enough, it’s inhumane.
For these reasons, today, NRDC, with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Welfare Institute, and Project Coyote, sued Mendocino County for renewing its contract with Wildlife Services back in June. Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors was required to examine the environmental impacts of renewing the contract and provide County residents with notice of its intentions. But it didn’t.
Instead, when the Board voted to approve the contract there was absolutely NO discussion of what it could to do the county’s wildlife and ecosystems — not to mention its impacts on Mendocino County residents who want to see and live with these animals.
To contract with Wildlife Services, Mendocino County must examine the environmental impacts of the agency’s actions on the county and that’s what we’re trying to ensure through this lawsuit. However, an even better solution would be for Mendocino County to follow the lead of California’s Marin County and cancel its contract with Wildlife Services once and for all. Like Marin, Mendocino could instead use the money they’d pay Wildlife Services to implement a non-lethal predator management program, helping livestock owners and operators pay for and learn to use methods such as guard dogs, fencing, and range riders to keep predators at bay.
If Mendocino County were to do all this — to cancel its contract with Wildlife Services and instead implement a nonlethal program — it would lead the way for other counties in California and across the nation in saying NO to Wildlife Services and YES to methods of livestock-carnivore conflict prevention that preserve the balance of nature.
* 2012 is the last year for which we have complete data. We have requested complete data for 2013.