Lawsuit seeks to stop federal authorities from killing native wildlife

RENO, Nevada, December 13, 2021 (ENS) – Conservation groups WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project have filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services in Nevada over plans to kill thousands of native animals in the state without a proper environmental scan of the impact of such large-scale culling.

Wildlife Services is a multi-million dollar federal program that annually kills an average of 1.3 million native species nationwide, according to its own reports, under the guise of “wildlife management”, in large part. partly in response to demands from the agricultural industry.

Lawsuit challenges Wildlife Services’ expansion of aerial shooting, poisoning, trapping and shooting of foxes, bobcats, coyotes, pumas, beavers, badgers, rabbits, raccoons, crows and other wildlife on public lands in Nevada, including the potential to kill wildlife in over six million acres designated as wilderness areas and wilderness study areas.

“As society has evolved to understand the importance of native species as a key component of ecosystems and the need for coexistence with wildlife, Wildlife Services continues to rely on archaic practices in the name of ‘management.’ conflict with wildlife, ”said Lindsay Larris, director of the wildlife program at WildEarth Guardians.

“Wildlife Services continually ignores the science on the effectiveness of lethal management as well as the severe environmental impacts of its logging program,” said Larris. “We demand better from the federal government.”

Filed in Nevada Federal District Court, the lawsuit follows a July 2020 ruling that Wildlife Services’ “Predator Damage Management” program, involving aerial shooting, trapping and poisoning. native fauna had “no significant impact” on the environment.

The lawsuit alleges that the agency’s analysis is flawed in several ways and that the indiscriminate culling of native carnivores and other wildlife actually has negative impacts that warrant much tougher government scrutiny.

The lawsuit also accuses Wildlife Services of failing to recognize the futility of lethal “control” of wildlife for the apparent purpose of protecting domestic livestock that the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service, also named accused in the case. , allow the federal public to graze. land, including wilderness areas.

“Even though he devotes millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours each year to aerial shooting, poisoning, shooting, trapping and killing thousands of animals across Nevada, and even While there is a growing number of scientists contesting the effectiveness of these actions and highlighting their negative impacts on the environment, NV-Wildlife Services has illegally refused to prepare a full environmental impact statement, EIS, disclosing the direct effects, indirect and cumulative of its “predator damage management” activities in Nevada, as required by NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act), “the lawsuit said.

“The failure of federal land management agencies to take action to protect wildlife on their lands in the face of livestock-wildlife conflict is a blatant violation of federal law,” said Adam Bronstein, Nevada director at Western Watersheds Project.

“The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service both have an obligation to protect federal lands and the wildlife that inhabit them for all the American public, not just certain special interest groups. This obligation begins with, at a minimum, ensuring that native species are not cut down or poisoned in their habitat as a preventive measure, ”said Bronstein.

In Nevada, Wildlife Services was responsible for the deaths of at least 29 pumas, five foxes, two black bears, a bobcat, 2,493 crows and 3,662 coyotes in 2020 alone. Almost all of the coyotes were killed by indiscriminate methods such as aerial fire, the use of inhumane methods such as snares and foot traps, and devices known as M-44 “cyanide bombs”.

Over the past five years, Wildlife Services has unintentionally killed 11 bobcats, four black bears, a cougar, a bighorn sheep and several foxes in Nevada.

Much of Wildlife Services’ carnivore culling activity in Nevada occurs on federal public lands with more than 15,000 coyotes killed on land managed by BLM or USFS in the past five years, at the behest of ranchers. private in a handful of counties.

In 2017, Nevada residents surveyed expressed strong support for reforming state trapping regulations to reduce the suffering of wildlife and protect pets and public safety.

In 2019, the Nevada Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining introduced Assembly Bill 473, which would have banned the use of jaw traps and reduced the time 24 hour trap check. He failed to become law.

While the BLM and USFS both authorize grazing permits on the public lands they manage, neither agency provides a framework for managing conflict between wildlife and livestock on their lands, even in areas of wilderness, and no agency considers the negative ecological consequences of “lethal wildlife management”. “Activities that occur as a result of livestock grazing programs.

“These federal lands are essential for preserving biodiversity and allowing native ecosystems to thrive – they are meant to be refuges for wildlife,” said Jennifer Schwartz, lawyer at WildEarth Guardians.

“The Wilderness Act requires that these special areas be protected and managed to preserve their natural conditions,” said Schwartz. “While Congress has authorized the continuation of pre-existing cattle grazing in the wilderness areas, that does not authorize the killing of the same creatures that define the wilderness of these remote and rugged landscapes. “

Over the past five years, litigation against Wildlife Services by WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, and other conservation groups has resulted in settlement deals and legal victories in Idaho, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Washington State all restricting the killing of native wildlife and making the program more accountable for its activities.

The selected image: Wolf Trapped, Nevada. (Photo courtesy of Born Free USA from its 2021 report, “Crushing Cruelty”.

Environmental Information Service (ENS) © 2021 All rights reserved.

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