USDA Wildlife Services responds directly to BAX co-director over Change.org petition

by Monte Merrick

50k!!!

Last week, I initiated a petition on Change.org, as an individual, to the three people responsible for the Department of Agriculture’s ‘wildlife damage control’ program, known as Wildlife Services. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack; USDA-APHIS, administrator Kevin Shea; and APHIS Wildlife Services deputy administrator, William (Bill) H. Clay. (read the petition, read more about Wildlife Services)

Within a day, the petition had gathered 500 signatures. At about the time that it passed that number, 500, I received an email from Bill Clay, deputy administrator for USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services. While it’s odd that he has replied directly to me, rather than to Change.org, which also didn’t share my email address, I am glad that USDA staff are aware that public light is being cast on Wildlife Services.

In any case, Bill Clay wrote to me, and I wrote him back. Here’s what we had to say to each other:

On 20 Jun 2014, , at 12:39, Clay, Bill H – APHIS wrote:
Mr. Merrick,

In regards to your Change.Org petition expressing concerns over our program, let me address some of your concerns by clarifying the misinformation that you have heard or read about the Wildlife Services (WS). First, WS works closely with State and Federal wildlife agencies which regulate resident and migratory birds and threatened and endangered species and which set management goals for various wildlife populations. The professional wildlife agencies strongly support our program and recognize the need to manage wildlife damage as part of responsible wildlife management and the North America model of wildlife management. Lethal take is an important component of wildlife management.

While the concern expressed regarding the lethal removal of over 4 million animals during an entire year over the entire United States is noble, it indicates a lack of understanding of overall wildlife populations, mortality, recruitment and population dynamics. Quoting raw numbers, taken out of context, without indicating the overall wildlife population or other sources of species mortality is irresponsible. Although it generates an emotional response it does not indicate the overall impact to wildlife populations. For example, cats kill from 1.3 to 4.0 billion birds each year in the United States. Hunters harvest over 50 million mourning dove each year out of a population estimated to be well over 300 million birds. More than one million deer-vehicles collisions occur annually, often deadly to deer, which have a population of over 30 million deer. Disease, predation, age, and many factors all contribute to wildlife mortality.

Our lethal take last year involved the removal of approximately 3.5 million birds, nearly 80% of which were invasive species. A Presidential Executive Order 13112 on Invasive Species (Section 2) clearly directs Federal agencies to control invasive species and prevent their spread. I understand that many people object to the use of lethal control; however, regulated hunting and trapping is an important tool to manage overabundant wildlife populations and is supported by professional wildlife biologists and wildlife agencies that are mandated to manage them.

In responsible [sic] to the allegations of being a secretive and unaccountable program, anyone who has ever reviewed our website knows that Wildlife Services annually provides the Program Data Reports and other information, including budget information, (which your petition requests) and has provided this information for over 20 years. Through the website we seek to inform the public of actions as a responsible and accountable federal program. The recent Washington Post article criticizes our program because of the numbers of animals killed each year. It’s ironic that we make this information available each year regarding how many animals are killed, species, methods used, nontarget take, etc., and then are criticized for not being accountable to the public.

During the past 5 years, WS has invested more than $50 million to identify and develop new nonlethal methods of control. Most of the effective nonlethal methods currently used by farmers, ranchers, and the public has either been developed or tested by our program.
The implication that WS is mainly funded by Federal dollars is also incorrect. Over $100 million non-Federal dollars is provided to WS each year from the people that request our services. In fact, WS is one of the very few Federal agencies where the recipients of our services pay at least half, and in some cases 100 percent, of the cost of the project.

Articles about WS often fail to indicate that over 80 percent, or 18 million animals, are moved or dispersed each year by WS using nonlethal methods, or that we work at most airports across the country to protect airplanes and people; that we protect over 150 threatened and endangered species for other wildlife threats; or that we conduct one of the largest programs in the world to stop the spread of the Mid-Atlantic strain of rabies commonly carried by raccoons in the Eastern United States. The article also failed to document that the WS program is managed by professional wildlife biologists. To obtain accurate information on the WS program, please visit our website.


William H. Clay
Wildlife Services

Here is my reply:

Mr. Clay,

Thank you for taking the time to respond directly to me in regard to the petition I initiated on Change.org.

As you know, the 50,000 people who have signed this petition so far are not the only critics of the opacity of USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services.

In December 2013 Wildlife Services was petitioned by Center for Biological Diversity, Project Coyote, Animal Welfare Institute, and Animal Legal Defense Fund to begin the rule-making process for the same reasons I started the Change.org petition; that is, to bring transparency and accountability to WS, to ensure humane treatment of animals, and to protect public safety and interests. (read legal petition)

I am sure that you are aware of the highly regarded series published in the Sacramento Bee in 2012 that sheds light on a governmental branch that operates outside of the values of most Americans. Covering up unintentional kills, shooting animals from helicopters, irresponsible use of poisons, suffocating and burning young mammals in their dens – these are revolting, unnecessary and cowardly acts. Citizens have a right to know how their contribution through taxes (whether federal, state, county or municipal) are spent, and a right to object to these repugnant practices. Suggesting that such well-documented and long criticized practices are either necessary or insignificant is a failure to address our petition. We are petitioning for information regarding these kills, not excuses or rationalizations.

Transparency and accountability demand more than the assertion that critics are misinformed. As a wildlife professional, I am well aware of the numbers of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that are killed or injured by various anthropogenic causes, such as feral and free-roaming domestic cats, vehicle traffic, windows, wind farms, toxic pollution and so on.

You reference the large number of birds killed by cats and imply that such a high mortality somehow absolves WS of wrongdoing for the lesser number of animals reported to be killed WS agents. These are unrelated issues. Mass fatalites are not judged against each other but against what is right. Besides this point, in regard to the numbers of animals reported to be killed by WS agents, the figures provided by your agency are not trustworthy, especially in light of former agents who have consistently described the culture of “shoot, shovel, and shut up” that permeates WS.

And none of these issues that plague WS are new. Multiple reviews and reports, from as early as Olaus Murie’s 1931 internal report, through the Cain Report from early 1972 (formally titled Predator Control 1971: Report to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality by the Advisory Committee on Predator Control, S.A. Cain, et al) have clearly indicated that Wildlife Services practices are out of step with science, decency and democratic values. While critics have consistently identified these key areas for reform, this agency, under various names, has consistently failed to enact these reforms in a meaningful fashion.

The history of Wildlife Services is not a noble one, nor has it met its purported mission. Even the federally mandated task of invasive species control that you reference (which is the reason for the existence of Wildlife Services, from its inception as the Division of Economic Ornithology in 1885) has been a failure. As an example, House Sparrows, which your agency’s first administrator sought to “attack and destroy*,” launching Wildlife Services’ official methodology, have been neither eradicated nor controlled.

Frankly, your response to this petition appears to be further stonewalling. It is easy to understand why Congress member Pete DeFazio has referred to WS as the “one of the most opaque and obstinate” agencies he’s encountered. Moreover, for the administrator of the WS program, with its history of wolf eradication, well-documented cruelty, and broadcast use of highly toxic poisons across our natural heritage, among other reprehensible actions both large and small, to accuse one who questions these practices of being “irresponsible” neither addresses the concerns nor is befitting your role as a public servant.

Sincerely,
Monte Merrick

 

(*) C. Hart Merriam, MD was the first director of the Division of Economic Ornithology, established inside the Department of Agriculture July 1, 1885. After a year, the division was expanded to include Mammology and soon after that the word Economic was dropped. In his first annual report Merriam discussed areas for USDA work, for legislative action, and for general recommendations. While regarded by his own Department as an impediment to its mission to eradicate avian and mammal economic threats to agriculture, here’s what Merriam had to say about House Sparrows: “The English Sparrow is a curse of such virulence that it ought to be systematically attacked and destroyed before it becomes necessary to deplete the public treasury for the purpose, as has been done in other countries.” https://ia601206.us.archive.org/33/items/reportofchiefofb1886unit/reportofchiefofb1886unit.pdf

 

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45 thoughts on “USDA Wildlife Services responds directly to BAX co-director over Change.org petition

  1. Wow. Another “public servant” working in our “best interest.” Let’s go get ’em!

  2. I am most familiar with their Canada goose killing.
    1) Canada also has resident geese and is not rounding them up for any reason. The only place I know of that got a kill permit for geese was in New Brunswich a few years ago.

    Resident Canada geese live in home ranges..just like humans. They nest in the same place year after year. If a community has any geese they know their population will increase. So they implement egg addling programs along with other methods to reduce human/goose conflicts such as some habitat management. The entire Okanagan Valley of BC, which is the same size as the state of NJ, has a very effective Goose Management Program which Environment Canada helped design. Managing resident goose populations in communities is NOT rocket science.

    MEDIA RELEASE: Egg Addling Controls Goose Population

    “In a continued effort to control the Canada Goose population in the Okanagan Valley, the Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program is about to begin its annual egg addling program. Over the PAST SIX YEARS, this program has prevented the exponential increase of the non-migratory resident goose population that inhabits the valley all year long………Since the program began in 2007, approximately 7,700 EGGS HAVE BEEN PREVENTED FROM HATCHING THROUGH THIS MINIMALLY INVASIVE APPROACH…. ….In order for the program to succeed, new nests need to be identified. The PUBLIC IS ASKED TO REPORT lone geese, pairs of geese or nest locations on private or public land.”

    http://www.okanagangooseplan.com/?p=270

    In addition to ground surveys, aerial surveys were conducted in 2007 and 2011 to estimate the number of geese residing in the Okanagan Valley and to determine what proportion of the population were hatched that year. THE CANADA GOOSE POPULATION APPEARS TO HAVE STABILIZED THROUGHOUT THE VALLEY.

    http://www.okanagangooseplan.com/?cat=6

    GOOSE STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN.

    http://www.okanagangooseplan.com/files/OVGMP_Strategy_Action%20Plan_2006.pdf

    I have NEVER seen the USDA WS tell a community to implement an egg oiling program. And in many communities they just go back year after year to kill geese. It is disgusting. Just last week they went back to Delafield, WI and took 53 geese off a huge lake since they were also there in 2011 that was likely all these geese there were. They were there a 3rd time in the last few years according to a witness to all three of them.

    They know killing obviously is no long term solution to managing Canada geese but that suits them fine. Great cash cow.

    THEY ALSO LIE AND MISLEAD…last year Chattanooga State asked for their help with their geese and they believed the geese were going to be relocated. USDA WS killed them and THEN told Chattanooga they could not be relocated. Well….seriously they don’t know before they round up geese they can’t be relocated in the state???

    And…within a few weeks, when other geese in the area were done molting..Chattanooga had more geese. At which point Chattanooga said they were not going to get the USDA and they would manage them non-lethally by just making them uncomfortable. History is littered with many many similar stories where communities were misled about what would happen to the geese, their geese were killed…and they got more geese so no problems were solve.

    “Despite culling, geese return to Chattanooga State”
    http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/aug/14/despite-culling-geese-return/

    This year…Oakland, Maine…same thing. They whined about two goose familes…18 geese and they thought they would be relocated…USDA THUGS killed them.

    “Oakland officials: We were misled about removal of nuisance geese”

    “The town of Oakland publicizes its USDA goose-removal contract, which doesn’t even hint at euthanization.”

    http://www.pressherald.com/2014/06/27/oakland-officials-we-were-misled-about-goose-flocks-fate/

    I will also say….we have tons of permanent resident Canada geese in Vancouver, BC….and I have to wonder what is going on when I read these stories about piles of goose poop all over. I just don’t see that here despite our goose numbers in Stanley Park and other places. We must have 300 geese in Stanley Park and tourists always say how clean it is. So I don’t believe this can’t be just park of regular park maintenance that cleans up everything else.

    Lately I read one USDA mouth say they only use lethal management in 5 out of 10 goose complaint issues. Well if you look at the situations they use lethal control in….you can only imagine how outrageous the other 5 complaints are. A few years ago the USDA rounded up geese from a lake in WA state…Honeymoon Lake and gassed them. Next year another 2 couples appeared, one couple had goslings. The USDA WS was going to return to this lake and get 7 geese. Seriously…A LAKE THAT CAN’T HAVE 7 GEESE ON IT…and some company there had also offered to put up a fence to prevent the geese from going onto whiners property. Since nesting geese are basically non-fliers during nesting and gosling raising season, about 14 weeks, a fence would work for the main part of the summer.

    “Honeymoon Lake goose-nappers grab gaggle before executioners can”
    “A family of geese was spared after Honeymoon Lake residents approved the gaggle’s euthanization. The geese were taken during the night May 30.”

    “The community board voted to contract with Wildlife Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to have 19 geese on the lake killed last year. Again this year, they planned to have seven newly-arrived geese done away with. The killings could have happened at any time.”

    IT IS OUTRAGEOUS 19 GEESE CAN’T LIVE ON A LAKE AND THAT THEY WERE GOING TO RETURN TO GET 7.

    …..So if the USDA was going to round up 7 geese off a lake…you can imagine the other complaints they claim they don’t use lethal management for have to be off the charts wacko.

    Bill Clay refers to their experts blah blah blah…but it was their experts who helped Innolytics develop a birth control for Canada geese..OvoControlG. But they have never ever used it. All they do for goose problems is wait until someone whines then they come in an kill them without even requiring the community to have a future plan to manage them more humanely…which the Canadian government requires. Environment Canada rarely gives kill permits to kill urban resident geese and when they do they have to show they have tried non lethal methods and they have to show they have a future plan so they don’t depend on just killing geese as their goose management.

    ” Innolytics, LLC, the developer of OvoControl®, the contraceptive bait for resident Canada geese, pigeons and other birds, commented today on the under-utilization of the technology by state and federal wildlife management agencies……. The federal government financed a large part of the research, so it is unfortunate that certain government agencies have been less than supportive of this non-lethal and humane alternative for goose control”, added Wolf.”

    http://wildlifecontrolsupplies.blogspot.ca/2010/08/contraception-for-canada-geese-remains.html

    I think their Canada goose killings are one of the best examples of everything they do wrong and the horrible things o it for money. However because of the history of geese in America…they aren’t really native to many places..basically planted all over to ensure birds for hunters by government wildlife agencies and groups like Audubon….most people tend to ignore what is happening to them.

    In the last week they have killed the 18 in Maine, 53 in Delafield, WI that has a very large lake, 300 in Mobile, Alabama, and 100 in Youngstown Ohio.

    And they lie through their teeth…Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver are three major cities that have a ton of Canada geese. We are not up to the knees in goose poop, Stanley Park was named worlds best park by Trip Advisor in 2013 and 2014..with about 300 geese at least in it.

    Our permanent resident geese are not attacking children and the elderly and infirm, they are not aggressive, they are not spreading the plague to the populace. But if you listen to the USDA..they take the lead in spreading misleading BS about Canada geese.

    https://www.facebook.com/marion.ambler/media_set?set=a.610346045653305.1073741866.100000337454953&type=3

    And there is no reason a park like Mobile should have 300 geese and then call it an overpopulation..you see you have geese, you see they have babies…it’s not rocket science. Addle eggs. In Canada..they would have to show they had used nonlethal methods and if they did it intelligently that would manage the population. But not with the USDA WS!!!

    “Wildlife experts say the birds can be aggressive and carry toxins that are dangerous to humans. Areas where the birds stay become unusable because of the birds’ waste and behavior.”…well that is just BS. No area in Vancouver is unusable because of our geese.

    http://wkbn.com/2014/06/26/controlled-kill-conducted-on-canada-geese-at-mill-creek-park/

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.454679931219918.99380.100000337454953&type=1&l=65d58a1f15

    “Brian Kay with ODNR’s Division of Wildlife said when the birds are fed by park goers, they become resident geese which disturbs their migratory instinct.”….that is BS too. The DNRs own site says THEY created resident goose populations…birds descending from captively bred geese do not know migration. They created the resident geese population. They lie through their teeth.

    “Before 1950, Canada geese were only known as migrants and winter visitors to Ohio. In the early 1950s, the Ohio Division of Wildlife initiated a program to establish resident flocks within the state. These introduction efforts were immediately successful.”…..then they blame people who feed them.

    http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index/birds/canada-goose

    I won’t even get into their killing geese off airport property to save planes..but that’s just as bad. I will point out they did a couple of goose roundups in Birmingham, Alabama to keep the skies safe…but the FAA birdstrike data base just shows 1 goose strike in 2005 at one of their two airports and there was no damage…that could have been a dead bird on the runway. But they did do a couple of roundups in the last few years. With that kind of logic…how do they know if they have done anything. If you think about the 7 million geese there must be in North America, in the US, Canada, and migrating, and the fact only about 0.001% is involved with a plane and most of that is N damage…a goose simply existing is not a great threat to a plane and is much much less likely to cause a crash than the pilot, mechanical failure, weather…etc.

    In NYC they have killed over 5,000 birds since 2009 when Flight 1549 hit migrating geese and JFK Airport had more strikes, 3, in 2013 then they’ve had since 1995. There is no science to this.

    I could go on and on…actually an investigative journalist, Mary Lou Simms with the McLatchy Times has done a few articles on the USDA; one was
    “Taxpayers Subsidize Wildlife Extermination Program” and another “Communities working to keep the geese and the peace” that expose the USDA WS too. The one article can now only be found on a goose site.

    http://www.articles.lovecanadageese.com/peacewithgeese.html

    “Taxpayers Subsidize Wildlife Extermination”….Mary Lou Simms investigated the U. S. Department of Agriculture program that exterminates wild birds and animals for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

    Bill Clay…yeah right. Transparent and pure as the driven snow, misleading, lying, and omitting. And I forgot to mention how they answer their FOIs…I think it was Predator Defense that had over 600 pages of a 800 page document blacked out. Not sure what good it does when 75% of the information is missing.

  3. Thank you for this effective petition which I signed. This is quite a new development that anyone from this agency has actually come out in a public forum and defended their position. No matter what one’s position might be a deep discussion is in order and seriously overdue re this agency I don’t happen to agree with Bill Clay position but I am thrilled that perhaps we can finally get a conversation in the works. So kudos for the petition, long overdue, and let’s keep the dialogue up with Wildlife Services. We are the voice for the innocent wild who just do their part for the ecosystem and the propagation of their species and find themselves dying horrendous deaths by a system that originated back in the late 1800’s to “tame” the land. This organization is based on old antiquated policies that are not part of a 21st century that reflect a green and enlightened era regarding America’s environmental practices. The wild needs to be kept wild and alive as they truly are the best stewards of the land. We need to get rid of our “management ” mentality and celebrate our beautiful wild ones with whom we share the earth.
    Coexistence is the new world order if we expect to have a future on this planet …! Let’s leave that deadly past behind, we certainly have plenty of well educated biologists and amazing NGO’s working to that end. Wildlife Services should be an agency that is ensuring wildlife stays alive, protected
    and respected for their mighty role in the ecosystem of our planet.
    It’s time for this new era to start.
    Thank you
    Rebecca Vitale Mandich

  4. I only know about the animals that I personally have taken to the WS and all of them including a Peregrine falcon have either been killed, in the case of the falcon to be stuffed for a display, or simply killed. The animals are only taken to a rehabilitation facility if they will grow up to make money for the state in the form of a license to kill fee. This is abhorrent and must stop, it’s killing to avoid spending any time, money or effort on these non game animals.

    1. Yes, thistlespinner, I’ve had a very strong sense and feeling that the real goal is not to spend any more money. Everything has come down to being about money and that is ruining so much in morals, value of life, etc. (I could go on and on!) This WS agency is not a bank, everybody wants to be one forgetting the reason why they were really instituted to begin with. They are nothing but a service who unfortunately – like so many governmental agencies – don’t really want to do their job when the going gets tough. Instead they turn to the easiest method available which won’t cost anything because whatever they don’t spend ends up in their pocket. Todays society = ME, ME, ME. We won’t last long like this.

  5. I don’t think the word “humane” is in WS vocabulary. There is HUGE public mistrust in this agency and from what I’ve been reading over the years, deservedly so.
    For me, the biggest red flag is their apparent reluctance to use birth control on the species they deem “overpopulated” or “invasive”. Why not? Too expensive? Well, yes, intitally it might be costly, but they also see the end of the trail for their agency if contraception is effective. Then where would all the hunters and trappers who are employed by them go?!

    1. Gail, you have hit the nail on the head. There are only two words for WS policies, practices and secrecy: JOB SECURITY. End of story.

  6. Mr. Merrick, your response (and petition) is nothing short of brilliant. Praises in the higest order.

    One of the most common ploys APSIS uses to mislead the public, the media and even community officials are euphemisms designed to pacify and cover up dirty deeds.

    Example, “removals” and “euthanasia” to characterize gassings and slaughters of thousands of geese and goslings.

    Despite FOIR, we still don’t know in New York City where our geese are sent by WS for so-called, “euthanasia.” One can guess however, that it isn’t pretty and certainly does not constitute euthanasia in the context and definition of the actual word.

    “Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.” (That is a quote from Dr. Phil Mcgraw.)

    But, USDA WS hides a lot (as you know) and continues to obfuscate and mislead.

    Like you, I also wrote APHIS officials recently questioning and criticizing many of their actions and claims.

    I received back a short, curt response from Carol Bannerman accusing me of being “obsessive” about the geese of Central Park. Nothing in my long and detailed letter even mentioned Central Park.

    It is certainly an exercise in frustration dealing with this rogue agency that has utter disdane for anyone who dares to question them. We are either “obsessive” wack jobs, “misinformed” fools who “turn on football” after getting upset about APHIS wildlife slaughters or in your case, “irresponsible.”

    Labels and euphemisms are what WS does best — along of course ,with killing.

    By the way, I too write a blog and posted your petition to the latest entry.

    http://talesamptailsofnewyork.blogspot.com/

    Again, praise and admiration for your courageous actions.

  7. “The professional wildlife agencies strongly support our program and recognize the need to manage wildlife damage as part of responsible wildlife management and the North America model of wildlife management.”

    This is patently false. I worked 30 years for a western state wildlife agency. Political pressure from state legislatures dominated by livestock interests force state wildlife agencies to accept the activities of Wildlife Services in their states. No credible or ethical wildlife professional supports more than perhaps 5-10% of the activity and programs conducted by Wildlife Services.

  8. If I were you I’d never post Mr. Clay’s email to you and your response. I’d of read his email, thought about it, and sent him a brief thank you response. As it is he comes off as being thoughtful and realistic, the adult in the room if you will. Those orgs you mention make Safari Club look moderate and that series in Sacbee? Seriously?

  9. I cannot thank you enough for organizing this petition… Finally, finally, the ball is rolling and the public is finding out about this outrageous tax-funded agency. WS is starting to be cornered on every side and this kind of action is great leverage in pushing politicians to do the right thing and force WS to become a responsible, pro-animal organization and not a shameless killing machine. They may have to be disbanded altogether first for that to happen, the corruption and philosophy runs so deep… Anyway, for an organization that stalls for months and redacts FOIA request responses, such a fast response is highly indicative that they’re getting worried.

  10. The more we get this out there the more likely something will happen. The “right” people need to hear this . The ones with power. However EVERY little bit of energy put towards this is crucial.

  11. Thank you so much for your continued efforts to bring the truth to the people about WS. Thank you for being a voice for the voiceless!!!

  12. Killing of so many helpless animals is abhorrent and disgusting.
    Money would be better spent on spaying and neutering these animals to control their populations.
    I don’t know how these killers can sleep at night b

  13. Perhaps I misunderstand but didn’t his letter say that each year $100million dollars comes from the people requesting a service and those folks sometimes pay 100% of that ‘service’ One) If a service is truly needed for the betterment of wildlife why does it need to be requested by the citizenry? Would it not be self-evident to the authorities who specialize in wildlife management that a certain measure must be put in place?
    TWO)
    I can’t help but think that the groups providing the money are, for example,ranchers who want a specific species worn down so that their cattle are not killed Repaying ranchers for provable loses to wolves or coyotes would probably be cheaper so this struggle is really a pissing contest

  14. I note the comment, “Your comment is awaiting moderation” and I have no idea what that means-are you going to edit it or want me to change something or prune the length. I thought my comments were moderate but you can let me know where you believe that they were not Thank you for your attention in this matter Janice Ferguson

  15. If you or I went out and shot herons, blackbirds, or raptors for fun and profit, we’d have the book thrown at us under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and go to jail, and rightfully so. But it’s okay for the agency formerly known as Animal Damage Control (or “Aid to Dependent Cowboys”) to “regulate” and “manage” the populations of migratory birds without our having a say in the matter.

    Glad I signed the petition.

  16. Monte, your work is so noble. Thank you for all of the work you are doing!

    Ashley

  17. Interesting that cats “kill” but hunters “harvest.” Sad that the death of “4 million animals during an ENTIRE year” is considered reasonable. And the thing about numbers is that they’re numbers. There is no other context. I’m glad you received a response but that response was telling. Thank you for all you do <3

  18. Well, I feel that there is something very wrong with a person who does cruel things to animals, whether it be geese, deer, birds etc. How they sleep at night is a mystery to me……………..my husband and I feed the birds here daily, not only the sparrows, blue jays, and doves, but our chipmunks and squirrels stop by and a few rabbits as well. I would not even think of harming any of them………………and I also feel that action to harm any of them defines the character and lack of conscience of certain individuals. THESE PEOPLE SCARE ME TO DEATH,… THEY MAY NOT STOP AT ANIMALS.

  19. I’m trying to reconcile the concept that we have a tax funded federal agency in place to manage the wildlife population for all of us that can be “hired” to kill millions of animals at the behest of special interest entities! These interests are often in direct conflict with the desires of the majority and are often executed with extreme brutality and cruelty. In short we have funded a wildlife management entity that has found a way to perform atrocities for pay/profit without oversight.

  20. The USDA agents are just lazy bums. it’s a lot easy to just shot everything then to take any effort to move a goose. State Wildlife agencies are often guilty of the same thing. A cougar has a huge range but anytime one of them wonder near a house you can bet some state agent wildlife agent will blow its head off thus clearing a huge area for huge entire packs of coyotes to fill in where one single cougar was before.

  21. As we have seen with the cliven buddy’s of the west, what the rancher wants, the rancher gets. Does not seem to matter who or what gets in the way.

  22. Oh my! Another excuse by one of our “conscionable, transparent” government agencies (NOT!). This reminds me of the $16 bagel, $8 cup of coffee, and other extravaganzas and waste funded by our tax dollars for which the Justice Department received a slap on the wrist in 2011 – http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-09-21/news/bs-ed-waste-20110921_1_muffins-loan-guarantees-wasteful-government-spending. Wonder how many other cutthroat federal government tactics haven’t yet come to light. The USDA Deputy Administrator’s response is the same prattle we’ve all heard before. Yes…America is the land of the free and home of the brave…and I’m very fortunate to live here. But I would also agree that the level of trust in our government, in general, has gone down the preverbal drain. It’s the people, creatures & wildlife, magnificent culture, and countless other attributes that make America beautiful…not our government, unfortunately.

  23. mr clay clearly stayed away from how one sneaky telephone call from a whiner who wants animals or birds dead institutes action to kill an animal or bird WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC NOTICE OR COMMENT TAKEN ON THE CTION. IF A BIRD FLUTTERS ON YOUR PROPERTY AND ANNOYS YOU THAT DOESNT MEAN YOUR NEIGHBOR WANTS A SHOOTER TO CME OUT AND KILL THE BIRD. THE SNEAKINESS OF THE ENTIRE PROCESS BETWEEN THE SNEAKY TELEPHONE CALL FROM THE ANIMAL HATER AND THE APHIS AGENCY IS MIND BOGGLING AND DISGRACEFUL. SINEAKY. LOSS OF TRANSPARENCY. HOW DO THEY GET AWAY WITH SO MUCH SNEAKINESS. THAT IS DECEITFUL.
    ITS ALSO A MONEY MAKING THING TO KILL FOR PAY AND APHIS IS DEFINITELY AFTER MONEY. IF THE ANIMAL LIVES, OBVIIOUSLY THEY DONT CHARGE. BUT IF THEY KILL, THEY GET $100 MILLION. ITS KILLING ANIMALS FOR MONEY FOR THE AGENCY, BUT THEN THAT IS WHAT MANYOF THE “ALLEGEDLY “PROFESSIONAL FISH & WILDLIFE PEOPLE DO. THEY ALSO LIVE OFF THE PROFITS OF KILLING ANIMALS DEAD FROM SELLING HUNTING LICENSES.

  24. There are three sides to every story: Yours, Mine, and the FACTS.

    Welcome the response from Mr. Clay, it’s a start. Instead of searching for hidden meaning, and denigrating his reply and his agency, consider that you now have an opportunity for dialog.

    Or do you you just want to be another piss-ant activist whose say-so (writing) ain’t their do-so? If so, take me off your support list.

    -David

    1. Hi David,

      Thank you for your comment. I certainly see your point, that Mr.Clay having taken the time to craft a lengthy reply is a step toward improvement. I think everyone welcomes any reply from this agency. That said, Mr.Clay, doesn’t exactly hide his contempt for critics. HIs points are basically that the petitioners are misguided, misinformed and irresponsible. While any comments at all are more interesting than none, it’s hard to see a reason for accepting further stonewalling as a legitmate response, especially in the face of the facts, as you say, regarding the long history of wanton killing and secrecy about that killing by the agency for which Mr. Clay is responsible. It is my view that if there is to be dialogue, let it be honest.

      Thank you for signing the petition. I do hope that the excellent response it is generating moves the government to rein in Wildlife Services and impose much needed reform.

      Take care,
      Monte

  25. I understand the need for control. We actually need to apply it to humans more than anything else. Think about it …

  26. With all of the animals killed in other ways, your agency should not need to kill so many..

  27. It is indeed fascinating when supposed public servants try to deflect their disreputable actions.

    To describe employees of WS and state agencies as anything but focused on maximizing wild killing for the only people they believe they must serve, i.e., hunters, trappers, ranchers and farmers, leaves out the opinions and perspectives of some 300 million Americans who do not engage in those activities.

    Each wildlife killing program the state agencies and WS have engaged in actually have not resulted in constructively changing population numbers. Wildlife wants to survive, just as human beings, and they ramp up reproduction to compensate. So, untold dollars are wasted with no effect. . .the classic example of government programs that produce no tangible benefits, but employ lots of bureaucrats.

    Kill first and ask questions later. The overwhelming preponderance of public monies are spent on lethal rather than non-lethal approaches.

    When left to their own devices, species balance one another out and support a complex food chain throughout the hierarchy. When Man kills indiscriminately, everything is disrupted beyond what Man has done by mercilessly encroaching on wildlife’s habitat. Interesting how these species survived for many thousands of years without Man’s negative impact, but now some men think they know better than evolution or whatever creative force brought all the different life forms into existence.

  28. Mr. Monte Merrick, You are a treasure!! Thank you for your very explicit reply
    to Mr. Clay. Our planet is vast and almost limitless. Maybe someday soon
    with God’s help and your assistance and all of us pitching in, our wildlife can
    be free of this kind of hell.

    Many, many, many thanks to you. We will all keep joining in to help.

    Kindest regards, Joan Brandt
    San Francisco, CA and Dallas, TX

  29. Lucky you got a response. My petition to this agency garnered nothing. The response was defensive and full of b.s. The Olsen case, as deplorable as Michael Vicks’ sadism towards animals, still makes my blood boil. The WS drone’s reply is indicitive of the rampant corruption and lack of unaccountablilty plaguing our entire government. Patting himself and his agency on the back for getting paid by ranchers to let them hunt for fun is not impressing anybody. They only serve the interest of the ranchers that pay them to kill stuff. Taxpayers have no say. As if they would anyway. Obama’s executive order didn’t ask my opinion.

  30. Wildlife Dis-Services is yet another group which is using that flawed Smithsonian study, conducted by a cat-hater, which claims that cats (feral and otherwise) kill BILLIONS of birds every year. I wish every organization would STOP quoting that “study” which has been used as the be-all and end-all “proof” that cats are the cause of such an incredible number of bird deaths. It’s HABITAT LOSS, along with the disorienting expanses of glass in city architecture, that is the main cause of bird loss!

    “Dr.” Nico Dauphine, the so-called expert who conducted the Smithsonian-sponsored study of cats and bird kills, used only 50 cats for her experiment, from which she somehow extrapolated the incredible numbers of birds she claims that cats kill every year. During this study, she was caught by security camera putting rat poison and antifreeze liquid in the food and water dishes left by the caretaker of a colony of feral cats. It took a lawsuit filed by Alley Cat Allies before the Smithsonian finally fired this cat-hater. After, however, she published her rather unbelievable report. And while Dauphine was a grad student at University of Georgia in Athens, she took it on herself to trap dozens, if not hundreds, of cats and haul them in to be killed–with the U of G supplying the traps she used! Many if not most of these cats were probably pets.

    Granted, people should not let their cats roam free–it’s just not safe for them, between traffic, dogs and hateful people–or else should bell them, but poisoning an animal you “don’t like” is sadistically cruel. And I am really getting tired of that Smithsonian “billions of birds” story being quoted blindly as fact…

  31. Mr. Merrick, your response to Bill Clay was the best that could have ever been written. As I read Clay’s jumbled bait-and-switch tactic, it angered me and brought to mind every lying political hack that speaks to the public. I’m especially glad you called him out on his try at blaming cats for bird killings, as a way to hide his agency’s reprehensible illegal kills. To think a “service to the public”, uses poison to kill animals is a huge farce. Do they believe that only the targeted animal will be the one to eat it? Are they that idiotic to think that, endangered species know enough to stay away? Our planet is more overrun with people that are not good stewards of our surroundings, yet we are the only ones that truly understand cause and effect. Bill Clay and his army of serial killers are worse than any.

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