Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Story Behind Gruesome Deaths

The Idaho Statesman, June 10, 2012 Sunday Edition surprised me. Right there on the front page, complete with sketch of a wolf  sniffing a M-44, was a huge story entitled : Wildlife Services' Methods leave a trail of animal death.

One quote from the article stated : If people knew how many animals are being killed at taxpayer expense-often on public lands- they would be shocked and horrified." Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote.

Its not just the coyotes and other "nuisance animals" that are caught in brutal traps, fed capsules containing powdered sodium cyanide (the M-44), snared and killed, its Bald Eagles, bears, dogs, raccoons and fox.   This is just part one of a two part series, which fills two more pages,16 and 17 of section one. I'm proud of Idaho Statesman. They gave a lot of press to an important issue: at what point in time do animals become nuisances worthy of such targeting?
Body Grips are used to catch beaver. This contraptions uses extreme force. 123,631 intentional deaths and 6,591 unintentional deaths are attributed to this Mouse Trap type of killer.

The snare is made from thin aircraft cable, strung like nooses, killing the animals after they fight and induce self strangulation. 155,050 intentional deaths, 3,859 unintentional deaths are attributed to this horrific trap.

Leg hold are buried like land mines, closing on the foot, holding the animal until the trapper arrives. We've all heard of animals chewing off their own foot to escape. 69,869 deaths are attributed to this torture, 2,896 unintentional.

The poison M-44 is a stick in the ground, baited with smelly stuff. Anything comes close enough to tug on it gets the poison injected into the mouth. 81,673 intentional deaths, and 3,213 unintentional deaths are attributed to this tool.

As an animal lover, this kind of thing is disturbing.

Ok, so then what's my point? This data covers a 5 year period. Critics say the unintentional deaths are way under reported. Who wants to report they killed an eagle, member of a protected species? The article says one guy was told to just bury the thing and shut up about it.

Not that we could trust our government reports ever completely. Look at the housing market. We're constantly told it bottomed out. I've been hearing that for two years now.

But what of the ever growing population of coyotes invading the outskirts of town, killing pets and threatening our safety. I say, allow those affected to kill the animal, and bring it in for documentation, if necessary. Let each local district make their own rules. Let the public know what's going on, and become involved in hunting.

Wild pigs are top on my list. I've seen their devastation and know how dangerous they can be. Let hunters go get them and feed the people. That has to be a win win situation. Just be careful for the parasites.


  1. "I say, allow those affected to kill the animal"

    That might work for very small numbers, but your article talks about 10-100 thousand. I trust one of my neighbors to shoot the coyotes that run on our property - trust him to shoot clean and not accidentally shoot a pet dog.

    One of my other neighbors would likely shoot anything that moves. Another neighbor would leave food out for the coyote: "Here puppy!"

    Wildlife Services is effective at removing animals without undue danger to the public.

    When beavers build dams near an airport runway and waterfowl gathers that could fly into jet engines, who would take care of that problem? The jet passengers? That is what Wildlife Services does effectively.

  2. Very good points. Not everyone is reasonable in the way they deal with problem animals, both baiting and shooting indiscrimately. Of cours, the airports have to be maintained by the air maintanence crew, same folks who do the run ways, whatever.

    But, humans have indertantly been killed by the M-44s, according to the article.

    Thanks for posting, gives us another side of the issue.

  3. I hate to be perceived as a troll for continuing to post. I hope you don't see this as arguing, but as informative.

    As far as the air maint crew taking care of beaver dams goes: Beaver dams are often best handled with explosives. Now the airport would have to pay for training and licensing and for insurance. W.S. personnel are (should be) trained specialists in that area. A couple of WS explosives specialists can take care of a state-wide area, as opposed to each individual airport maint crew having explosives at their disposal.

    I'm not defending them blindly, mind you. I just think that the alternate of getting rid of WS because the general public perceives them as injudiciousness animal killers to be more of a problem (much much more).

    I'm all for taking care of coyotes on my land when they threaten me or my family. I can do that with the resources I have at hand. I think problems like this can be handled at as low of a level (individual) as possible.

    When a thousand blackbirds land on a farmer's crop and they can more than decimate the field in a very short time, that is a problem bigger than any one farmer. WS can be called in to help or the farmer can actually rent some noise cannons to scare off the birds (to relocate on CRP lands).

    A herd of mule deer can do damage to property. A property owner might scare them off, but inadvertently scare them into a highway area, resulting in vehicular deaths (deer and human). Expertise is needed to herd the deer correctly.

    I'm all for improving the job that is done by Wildlife Services. Every gov't agency has room for improvement and I think all of them should be operating transparently for the purpose of fair scrutiny.

    (Sorry to have ranted a bit.)

  4. Good points, GBBL, most of us have never considered the day to day struggles of the farmer or beleaguered airport.

    Seeing a pet in a snare brings out the tenderness in the human heart, knowing some animals suffer long brutal deaths, and that protected species are caught occassionally makes us stop and think, is there not a better way? Maybe not, I hate to think it, maybe not.