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Elly Pepper’s Blog

Administration Wants More Money for Wildlife Services But Still Won't Tell Us Where It Goes

Elly Pepper

Posted March 11, 2014

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Accountability is typically critical to getting more money.  When you ask for allowance as a kid, your parents want to know what chores you'll do. When you ask for a raise, your boss wants to know what you've done. When you make a donation, you want to know the charitable organization's accomplishments.

Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to apply to Wildlife Services – the rogue branch of USDA that kills hundreds of thousands of animals each year on behest of the livestock industry.

Coyote.jpg

                                                    (C) Fish and Wildlife Service

Indeed, despite the fact that Wildlife Services, for years, has been ignoring requests from NRDC and other groups, congressional representatives, and others for information on how it spends our taxpayer dollars, the Obama Administration keeps on requesting more money for the agency!

For 2014, as you might recall, the Administration requested an ADDITIONAL $13 million for “wildlife damage management”—the program within Wildlife Services that is responsible for killing animals, including endangered species and even pets. Not only did Congress grant this request, it gave them even more than they asked for, increasing their budget by a whopping $15 million  – $13 million of which went to species eradication.

For 2015, the Administration is asking Congress to make that massive raise permanent!

Not only should the Administration refuse to increase Wildlife Service’s budget—it should be reducing it! It’s hard to imagine any reason for funding an agency that won’t even tell us how our tax dollars are being used—and the information we do have shows they’re not using the money wisely!  For example, a recent leaked audit shows that Wildlife Services has some big accounting problems, including $12 million missing from its coffers that cannot be found. And, as both the audit and NRDC’s 2012 report show, its economic analyses are inconsistent with those done by other federal agencies and often contain fundamental accounting errors.

Especially at a time when agency budgets are being slashed across the board, we shouldn’t be funding an agency that wants our money – but not the accountability and responsibility that comes with it. If Wildlife Services wants funding, it should tell us how it’s using it and start cleaning up its act.

UPDATE: Details as to exactly what animals Wildlife Services will use its funding increase to control are sketchy at this time. If like last time, most of the request is to support feral swine control that’s one thing, but any increase in their budget for predator management is a bad idea.  If anything, the money Wildlife Services spends to kill native carnivores should be redirected to nonlethal coexistence practices.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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