Rep. Susan Davis Calls For Government to Release Information on Animal Killings

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Washington, DC, May 6, 2015 | comments

A little-known office in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Wildlife Services, is responsible for intervening when an animal becomes a threat or serious nuisance to humans.  On many occasions, the animal is ultimately killed.  However, the reasons as to why or how is rarely made available to the public.

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced legislation to require the USDA to publish clear and accessible information on such animal killings.

“Efforts to gather adequate information regarding Wildlife Services operations are next to impossible,” said Davis. “The USDA has not made data available on where, why, how, and which animals have been killed – making public oversight difficult. Congress must improve transparency of the Wildlife Services program and ensure that the USDA is using tax dollars efficiently and appropriately.”

According to an analysis done by Voice of San Diego, in the years between 2005 and 2012, trappers working for Wildlife Services killed 18,700 animals in San Diego County, including some of the county's most iconic creatures: bobcats, foxes, mountain lions, coyotes, songbirds, and ducks.

Sadly, some animals may become so dangerous to humans or the local ecosystem that killing them is the only option.  However, the killing of animals should not be a reflexive or routine government response.  It should only be undertaken, if at all, after careful deliberation and under strict supervision. 

Under Davis’s bill the USDA would be required to submit an annual report to Congress on the animals killed during the preceding year. That report must also be made publicly available on the Internet.

The public and Congress need to have the opportunity for vigorous oversight to ensure that the USDA is acting appropriately and considering all less expensive and more humane alternatives.

The Humane Society of the United States has endorsed Davis’s legislation.

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