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Representatives, Groups Encourage Audit of Wildlife Services

Elly Pepper

Posted September 24, 2013

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Last week, Representatives DeFazio (D-OR), Campbell (R-CA), and Peters (D-CA) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s internal watchdog, its Office of Inspector General (OIG), asking them to prioritize a planned audit of Wildlife Services’ predator control program in 2014, with over 120,000 NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife members and online activists echoing this sentiment. Due to budgetary constraints, the OIG must make tough choices about which audits to conduct and these letters encouraged OIG to ensure this long-overdue examination is finally completed.

As we’ve written before, Wildlife Services spends millions of taxpayer dollars each year to kill nearly 100,000 native carnivores. But because of their complete lack of transparency, it’s hard to know the full extent of their actions. They don’t disclose much – for example, their budget doesn’t even specify how much money they spend on lethal versus nonlethal methods of predator control. They have ignored or denied requests for information from Members of Congress, NRDC, and others. And former employees have claimed that the agency hides the full truth about how many animals and what types of animals they kill through indiscriminate methods such as poisons and trapping. 

This audit will exert much-needed oversight over the agency and enable the public to learn just what it is they’re paying for.

Specifically, we hope that the audit will examine the following:

  • Wildlife Services’ Inhumane Methods – Many of the methods Wildlife Services uses to kill animals – such as poisons and traps – cause animals to suffer immensely. Additionally, Wildlife Services employees have committed acts of animal cruelty – one was arrested on animal cruelty charges in Arizona and another shot and killed an endangered Mexican wolf in New Mexico.Thumbnail image for Coyote pup cut nose 300 ppi.jpg
  • Wildlife Services’ Inefficient Use of Taxpayer Dollars – Wildlife Services uses flawed methods for assessing the costs and benefits of its programs, resulting in a failure to use taxpayer dollars efficiently or effectively.  Not only are such methods inconsistent with economic analysis guidelines used by most federal agencies, but they also omit the economic values to society that are lost when large numbers of predators are killed. Worse, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office, there has never been an independent study of the costs and benefits of Wildlife Services’ activities.
  • The Effect of Wildlife Services’ Financial Relationship with Private Agricultural Interests - While Wildlife Services’ predator control program responds directly to private agricultural interests, taxpayers subsidize these activities. This potentially incentivizes private interests to demand lethal removal of predators more than they would if they had to bear the cost on their own.  On the other hand, by making itself economically dependent on private interests, Wildlife Services risks having its decisions regarding when and where to employ lethal control activities distorted by a “client” mentality.   Indeed, there are persistent indications that Wildlife Services agents are far more inclined to attribute livestock mortalities to predators than other agencies.

It’s time to draw back the curtain and expose Wildlife Services’ practices. To send your own request to the OIG to conduct this critical evaluation, visit here.

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Dave McEwenSep 25 2013 09:00 PM

your people should disclose the total number of $ you receive from eaja

valhallaSep 26 2013 05:22 PM

The good they do is being over shadowed by the bad they do.

Carla CarballoSep 26 2013 09:40 PM

let's be responsible for wildlife!

Andrew WetzlerSep 27 2013 10:18 AM


You can see NRDC's 2012 audited financial statement here, which reports that awards from attorneys fees (only a portion of which are EAJA awards) accounted for less than 2% of revenue. And none of those fees came from any litigation involving Wildlife Services.

-- Andrew

Lorna ZamoraSep 29 2013 11:46 PM

I hope the government can think of a way to solve this kind of situation - in a humane way.

Linda PetersonSep 30 2013 07:02 PM

Why is the first solution always killing of these magnificent creatures. I can't believe this is the only solution you can come up with,why because it's the easiest??? There has to be a way to solve this in a humane way, if you put your heads together you can come up with something that doesn't involve killing.

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