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BREAKING: USDA Inspector General to Audit Wildlife Services

Andrew Wetzler

Posted December 4, 2013

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Responding to Congressional requests and well over a hundred thousand letters from the public, the Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General confirmed today that it plans to conduct an audit of the USDA’s controversial Wildlife Services predator control program.  Every year, at a cost of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, Wildlife Services uses traps, poisons and guns to kill over 100,000 native carnivores such as bears, wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions.  The audit, which is planned for 2014, will examine the following topics:

  • determine whether wildlife damage management activities were justified and effective;
  • assess the controls over cooperative agreements;
  • assess Wildlife Services’ information system for reliability and integrity; and
  • follow-up on the implementation of prior audit recommendations, such as the accountability over hazardous materials and equipment.

This audit is a much-needed development, one that will hopefully shed light on the long-documented problems with Wildlife Services’ behavior.  The first two items listed above are particularly noteworthy. 

First, as NRDC documented in our report, Fuzzy Math, much of Wildlife Services’ activities are justified by flawed cost-benefit reports that are inconsistent with economic analysis guidelines used by most federal agencies and omit the economic values to society of native wildlife.  Having the USDA’s Inspector General take a careful and independent look at the program’s self-justifications is therefore crucial to making smart decisions about how the federal government spends its limited resources.

Second, Wildlife Services’ “cooperator” agreements (arrangements through which local governments and private associations cover about half of the agency’s expenses) can’t help but distort Wildlife Services’ behavior.  Indeed, it creates a vicious circle all around: local governments and private ranchers have little incentive to try nonlethal methods of predator control when they can buy federal lethal control at a fifty-percent discount; as for Wildlife Services’, its budget and staffing quickly becomes captive to securing cooperator agreements.  Thus, an agency which should be serving the public interest gets transformed into a private pest control business, operating on the public dole and often unnecessarily killing native, ecologically valuable, wildlife.  An audit that takes a fresh look at these arrangements could provide an important check on the distorting effects of cooperator agreements.

As the Inspector General’s audit moves forward, NRDC and our allies – including the Humane Society of the United States, which has led the call for an audit by the Inspector General’s office – looks forward to providing all the information we can to the USDA.

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Julia MilfordDec 4 2013 09:11 PM

Killing wildlife for fun is not right inhumane and cruel. If you hunt for food thats fine but to kill wolves for sport is unsatisfactory. Leave them alone and they will police themselves.Stop the killing and trapping of wolves and any other animals you cant eat. That includes the wild horses.

Valerie GoodnessDec 4 2013 09:40 PM

USDA, USFWS, USFS, and BLM have become so corrupt. The infiltrators bed with resource extractor multicorps. The goal always has been to weaken EPA, ESA, NEPA and Tribal Congressional Trust protections in order to gain unfettered access to public/Tribal lands and resources...period...Once wolves are delisted, precedent is set and nothing will be protected. The Roberts court supports corporate special interests and judicial customized decisions will bend technicalities overriding conservation and tribal cannons left and right.

Janet AdkinsDec 4 2013 09:42 PM

Please put a stop to this useless killing of wolves. They are killed by traps and so are domestic animals. We are suppose to be a humane society, we have outlawed dog fights and yet we let dogs tear wolves apart and most of the time the wolves are already caught in a trap. Read about the ways they train these dogs to kill, do you really think a small child would be safe from dogs that go thru this training? Big outfitter companies have bought off so many politicians., please stand for these beautiful animals and the thousands of people that care about them and humane treatment of all animals.

Erydiam WolfsmoonDec 4 2013 10:02 PM

Mankind's lack of love for Nature is taking its tool, now again the wolf is being exterminated by unfair hunt policies guided by a group of people that feed old fashion chase of animals at the edge of extinction. Stop!
New times are on us and we have to preserve Nature for our children. Think twice as thousands of species disappear each year. Beware of being part of this tragedy.

Debbie. LashleyDec 4 2013 10:02 PM

Wildlife -Bears,Wolves etc. Must be protected against inhumane treatment. So many of these programs become about money. These animals are precious beings. They live as families as humans do. When they are killed,tortured,mamed, they mourn just as we do. Please fix this to protect the defenseless.

Jim KellyDec 4 2013 10:33 PM

Julia Milford, while I agree with the sentiment of your can totally eat wild horses. Or horse of any stripe. They have a more "iron-like" taste than beef, but are still an edible prey animal. Plenty of other cultures around the world enjoy horse meat.

Corrine Nugent-HayesDec 5 2013 12:36 AM

'I Want To Know From Someone Higher Up In Power, How Many Killed, Mangled, Tortured Wolves Will It Take Before The Number Of Wolves Dead Or Severely Hurt Will Match The Funds That Seem To Be Lining Your Pockets. I Would Really Like An Answer So I Don't Keep Wasting My Breathe Asking You? 100, 1000, 10,000 , 100,000 , 1,000,000, Or Will Entire Eradication Please You More'!!! When All Wolves Are Either Dead Or No Longer Strong Enough To Be A Viable Member Of Their Pack, Our Ecological System Will Begin To Shatter. Each day, OUR EARTH MOTHER WEEPS. Whats Next, All The Buffalo's? These Atrocities By Mankind Are Not Humane, But Inhumane'...
Also, Too Many Atrocities Are Happening In This World. None So New To Anyone. There Is A Shear Blanket Of Sickness That Has Taken Over. It's Vile, It's Vicious, Lack & No Respect For All Of Gods Creations. I Just Don't Know When Enough Will Be Enough. Mother Earth Is Showing Fatal Signs Each & Every Day That Passes...The more we mess with the natural order of things the more we will harm ourselves.

Jeffrey GeistDec 5 2013 02:24 AM

Respectfully, I hold President Obama (note: he is NOT a candidate for political office; he is the sitting President, so I assume I am not going against your wishes) responsible for allowing hidden, illegal organizations such as this one to live and operate. I am not all that sure that this audit will be truthful or honest. Because I no longer expect my government to be truthful or honest. I certainly don't expect its politicians to be truthful and honest My government, in addition to lawless organizations such as these, is killing the ESA and EPA. President Obama is fully aware of this, as he is chief poster boy for fracking and other poisonous extraction methods killing the environment, the animals and people that live there. Both he, and the oil, gas, fracking, sand tars oils people, coal miners using MTR (mountaintop removal) are behind the current extermination of wolves throughout the 48 states with the exception of the token few that will be allowed to "live" in the eight states in the NW and upper mid-west where they have been rehabituated only to be slaughtered as I speak. The reason for this is so simple as to be unbelievable that more people don't see it: ESA-protected wolves bless the land upon which they wander, at least to some extent, due to habitat constraints against the very people who want them dead - fracking, sand tars oiling, clear-cutting, mountain removal in coal mining and all kinds of other drilling and cutting operations - the Energy Czars, the supporters of Obama, who says nothing against them, knows everything that is going on with wolf extermination, and refuses to use his bully pulpit to stop this madness and at least "implore" various organizations of the government which ultimately he controls, such as USFWS - theoretically controlled by Sally Jewell of the Department of the Interior, but who was handpicked and takes orders from Mr. Obama.for this job. She was supposedly a big environmentalist. But nothing is real in this country anymore - it's either "virtual" or it's a lie, particularly when money and government are involved (and, of course, politicians). I do not accuse President Obama of taking money, of course. I think it was enough for him to be made President by these outlaws - the Energy Czars. You all know, of course, that the man who created fracking - which Obama is such an extreme supporter of - is Dick Cheney. Something to think about. Are we going to trust people like this to have a fair audit on a rogue, secret predator killing organization? I don't think so. But to allow wolves, in the course of their natural wanderings to possibly - just possibly - in any way reduce the amount of land that might, for example, be fracked, or put limits on sand tars oiling, well this is just not acceptable to Big Energy and, therefore, not to Mr. Obama either. So, good luck to stemming this evil predator killing organization that hides in the night and is completely illegal against the backdrop I have just described. Mr. Obama only pulled back on the Keystone XL "shortcut pipeline (he never talks about the one already in place for years, which by far the majority of Americans haven't a clue about); and you can be sure that this pipeline will be up and running post-haste. Lastly, consider this: sometime after 12/17/13, the F&WS will ban all wolves from states outside the 8 they're currently in. Would, as per the original reading of the ESA protection of wolves to restore them, to promote recovery of them wherever it was possibly viable to their old ranges (which was all over the US), were they to have been allowed to find their way back to KY, where one actually did and was lawlessly killed immediately, or WV, or VA, or TN, or PA (where the Marcellus shale is), or to AL or GA or any of these states, then it would have to be strongly considered that MTR must be stopped as a habitat restriction on land that wolves roam. This is totally conceivable. Big Energy, once again, does not want to stop MTR, nor does Obama. I talked with a woman on the phone in ID a few days ago (where more wolves are being killed than anywhere) and she didn't even know what it was. Some of my own friends don't even know what it is. This country is not in contact with reality, and the government likes it like that. I am NOT speaking against the government; I am simply pointing out where, from my point of view, it is going astray - which as a citizen that loves this country for what it could be and what I was brought up to believe it was supposed to be, I am duty-bound to do. Thank you. Perhaps Mr. Obama would like to tell the PM of Canada that he is out of his mind, that he is contributing to the destruction of the natural world with his horrendous energy activities. Does he, too, not have a responsibility to tell the truth? Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has been all too willing to support Canadian destructive energy operations all too much and is adopting them himself for our country as fast as he can. I leave you all to sleep on this. Pleasant Dreams, America.

Pete BraunDec 5 2013 03:13 AM

Forget just auditing, USFWS needs to be disbanded permanently. Same with the USDA, USFS, and BLM. They need to be disbanded and revamped. It's the only way.

jerry collinsDec 5 2013 06:28 AM

Pete Braun is right.....these agencies need to be dismantled, and completely eliminated. They are a complete waste of taxpayers money and serve no useful function. They are just a playground for sport killers, nothing more.

Bud SmithDec 5 2013 09:44 AM

I think it is mean of the government to kill the wolves. They are pretty and nice. I like to watch movies of the pretty wolves chasing pregnant elk mommies through the deep snow until the elk can't run any more, then biting them until they die. I really like it when the wolves kill the baby elk and deer and their mommies when the elk and deer mommies are having babies. Those mean old elk and deer are so stupid to have babies in the woods where the wolves live.

ernie meyerDec 5 2013 12:22 PM

Bud Smith is obviously a wolf hater and just another person who spreads wolf fear and dread...he can t remember that predators have to eat just like him when he sits down to eat a nice piece of veal...oh that's from a baby isn t it?

Songbird BergstromDec 5 2013 01:49 PM

I know what I have knowed for years they have been killing off the wild horses wolves and only to thicken there own pocketts for the pipeline. They care nothing about whats in there path. Most of all stop killing off all the animals wolves, they only kill to eat learn to protect your animals, you are pushing them out by keep having babies and ripping trees out and forcing all animals out. Enough. And yes I love this Country and want it back the way it should be for the people, that is us all.

Ann HillDec 5 2013 04:42 PM

The fact that the Inspector General is going to audit this agency is great. However, with the agencie’s past actions of being less than forthright, there is apt to be a taint on the audit as well.

It would behoove the agency to engage a third party to provide oversight, and make sure the audit is a legitimate one.

It would also be a good plan for Wildlife Services to be put under an agency other the Department of Agriculture. As it is, this is a beast feeding on taxpayers with Agriculture, farming and ranching all in the same pot, concurring on what needs to be done, etc. A group with more sensitivity to environmental, cultural and scientific aspects would serve a greater need.

Marc BednerDec 5 2013 06:16 PM

This might help to get some publicity for Wildlife Services, but then what? What happens after the USDA exonerates itself from all charges?

This wildlife-killing agency should be totally abolished. If Congress insists on funding this agency, it should at least remove it from endangered species programs, such as the Mexican wolf recovery program. Wildlife Services has assumed the authority, on behalf of the livestock industry, to decide which wolves live and which wolves die.

Josh HoffmanDec 5 2013 06:49 PM

An audit ? No...It doesn't need an audit .It needs too be shut down and eliminated .These agencies are murderers and should NOT continue too exists.

Ann HillDec 5 2013 07:09 PM

Here's a newly released film on the subject of abuse by Wildlife Services. It's by Predator Defense and we think it needs as much exposure as is available. Don't know if you post such.

Brenda HustonDec 5 2013 08:29 PM

Dear God, please help this planet, it's humans, it's wildlife.

SandraDec 5 2013 09:15 PM

These folks need to GO! They have spent millions of OUR taxpayer money killing, torturing and abusing wildlife...spreading hatred and lies...these lowlife dipshits (and all the hunters that believe them) need a lesson in wildlife...problem is they are full of hate and will not listen to any reasoning...not sure what happened to these people to become torturing murders...I want them out of office and some real human needs to take over. There are many other ways of managing (not that they do) OUR wild life.

Victoria Mejía Dec 5 2013 10:18 PM

This is totally unacceptable. A total slaughter! Stop this now! Don't wait until this species becomes extinct.

Dave SandersfeldDec 6 2013 12:21 PM

I was a USFS Wilderness Ranger in Idaho's Frank Church Wilderness Area in 1970s and we had plenty of wolves back then? Why President Reagan starting "Re-introduction of wolves here always made me puzzled.

Now, I am writing a book exploring the future of Nature and our Public lands to give future generations. We need a change of natural resource policy based on science not politics as usual!

Jane EagleDec 6 2013 12:26 PM

This is long overdue. The entire existence of Wildlife Services needs to be examined: Marin County, Ca. instituted a "predator friendly" program several years ago. They took the money budgeted for Wildlife Services and instead used it to help ranchers buy and install fencing, guard dogs, and other non-lethal ways to WORK their own livestock. Losses are down dramatically. For detaols go to Project Coyote's website (.org)
Welfare ranchers on the plains will fight this because they are lazy and greedy, and are not allowed to fence OUR lands they use. But is has now been proven that Wildlife Services is totally unnecessary and a burden on taxpayers. I HOPE that the audit will be honest, and not just one agency gladhanding another.

Michelle ValadezDec 7 2013 07:56 PM

We don't need to audit wildlife services we need to reform it, both on the state and federal level. Government agencies are so crooked, just doing an audit isn't going to change their practices. We saw how a wildlife agency employee let his dogs rip apart a coyote and then post the photos on facebook for all to see. He was investigated and where is he now? Still working for wildlife services. Wildlife services are not capable of reforming themselves, time for us, the public, to make it happen.

B. StrautmanDec 11 2013 09:06 PM

Simply unbelievable. Our state wants to kill raccoons, well over 3000 have been killed and only 31 tested positive for rabies! USDA probably gets a set amount for each kill. So why is WFF in bed with these guys, all hunting partners? [DELETED]

Elaine JennyDec 12 2013 07:45 AM

I am THRILLED about this !!!!!!! Our NJ animals have been unnecessarily destroyed by our DFW, made up of hunters , that trophy hunt black bear and deer.......and what makes this even more horrible is that in NJ hunters legally bait them all year to kill them for their sick thrills!!!! They purposely feed them at bait stations to increase population and then COMPLAIN that there are too many of in order to reduce their numbers (which hunters and the DFW unnaturally increased through bait stations) now want to "HARVEST" for recreational hunting !!!! I am a speaker for the NJ Bear Program working at educating residents and school children about the true nature of black bear.

Andrew WetzlerDec 12 2013 09:55 AM

Thanks for commenting B. Strautman, but please try to keep it civil. I deleted the end of your comment because it was an inappropriate analogy. Also, for the record, I don't know of any relationship between WWF and the Wildlife Services.

Comments are closed for this post.


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