August 2, 2012
Susan Davis Would Make Government Release Information on
WASHINGTON – 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, there is a lack of transparency as to why or how.
Congresswoman Susan Davis introduced bi-partisan 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 oversight of the Wildlife Services program and ensure that the USDA is using tax dollars efficiently and appropriately. ”
According to an analysis by voiceofsandiego.org, in the last seven years, trappers working for Wildlife Services have 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.
The public and Congress need to have the opportunity for vigorous oversight to ensure that the USDA is acting appropriately and considering all cheaper and more humane alternatives.
The Humane Society of the United States has endorsed Davis's legislation.