For Immediate Release: July 2, 2020
County Residents Urged to Oppose Killing of Wildlife
in Mendocino County
Board of Supervisors to vote on Controversial USDA “Wildlife Services” program
Ukiah, CA – The Mendocino Non-lethal Wildlife Alliance (MNWA) and Project Coyote urge Mendocino County residents to virtually attend the July 14th County Board of Supervisors meeting via the tele-meeting option and express their strong opposition to the County’s likely renewal of their $170,000 contract with USDA Wildlife Services. Those who are unable to attend the meeting on the 14th are encouraged to urge their Supervisor to oppose the renewal of the contract.
Residents are also encouraged to sign a related petition urging the Board to end their contract with Wildlife Services at this link:
“The Public Trust Doctrine holds that wildlife is to be managed for the benefit of the public, and yet Mendocino County continues to spend tax dollars to contract with Wildlife Services to trap, shoot, and kill hundreds of bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, mountain lions and other wildlife each year at the behest of private ranchers and other agricultural interests,” said Camilla Fox, Executive Director of Project Coyote.
For more than a century, Wildlife Services has killed millions of wild animals annually using shockingly cruel and inhumane methods. These methods include aerial gunning, body-gripping traps, poisoning, strangulation neck snares and M-44s (mini-cyanide bombs that explode in an unsuspecting animal’s mouth, causing an excruciating death). Wildlife Services only refrains from using these barbaric killing methods when they are forced to do so by lawsuit, ballot initiative or public pressure.
“We do not believe that public tax dollars should be used to support an agency that has no moral code and a history of brutally killing not only native wildlife but also our beloved pets who get caught in their traps,” said Carol Misseldine, MNWA Steering Committee member.
A bare majority of the County Board has signalled their interest in not only renewing their contract with this rogue agency, but in actually expanding permissible killing methods to include neck wringing, cervical dislocation and the use of CO2—all of which can cause extreme pain and suffering. The intended private beneficiaries of the public tax dollars funding these contracts are primarily ranchers and their livestock. However, the scientific research is overwhelming and clear: killing wildlife to reduce livestock predation is not only ineffective, it is often counterproductive in that livestock predation often increases as a result of predator social systems being destabilized when older or alpha members are killed.
Counties throughout the country, including neighboring Marin and Sonoma, have already ended their contracts with Wildlife Services and have instead brought in non-lethal wildlife management methods and services to protect property and livestock. Such non-lethal wildlife exclusion techniques, including fencing, night corrals and Foxlights, have proven far more effective than senseless killing by Wildlife Services.
Gowan Batist, a fifth-generation Mendocino County resident and the farm manager at Fortunate Farm in Caspar, is a devout champion of using non-lethal strategies to protect her livestock. “I raise sheep, which are extremely vulnerable to predation; some say that lambs are basically nature’s tater tots. But since implementing non-lethal control methods on my farm six years ago, I have not had a single loss to a coyote. The only loss I’ve had in those six years was to a mountain lion, and that was by a hungry teenage lion in the immediate aftermath of its mother being killed by a neighbor or Wildlife Services, which goes to what the science tells us: killing predators only increases livestock predation,” she said.
Maureen Mulheren and Mari Rodin are running for the County Supervisor seat currently held by John McCowen. McCowen, a strong proponent for the continuation of Wildlife Services’ killing program, is retiring at the end of his current term in January 2021.
Mulheren agrees that the County should not be spending public dollars on behalf of private interests. “The lethal predator control methods that the USDA Wildlife Service employs are ineffective and outdated. As Supervisor, I will vote to terminate the County’s contract with Wildlife Services and instead use that $170,000 in tax dollars on education about and implementation of non-lethal techniques.”
Rodin said, “I base my decisions on sound scientific data and in this instance the science indicates that the methods used by USDA Wildlife Service are both ineffective and counterproductive. Moreover, they appear to be unethical. As Supervisor, I will vote to terminate our contract with Wildlife Services and instead support the use of non-lethal methods to manage human conflicts with wildlife by a local entity.”
Due to the Covid-19 health emergency, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is conducting all business virtually. To provide public comment, individuals must fill out the “comment request form” at the link below no later than 8:00 am on the day of the meeting. Once the form has been received and reviewed, instructions will be sent for how to call into the Zoom meeting and provide public comment.
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