“I know absolutely that the cover-up of the illegal killing of domestic pets, the illegal poisoning of wildlife, and the illegal use of 1080 and M-44s is still going on.” ~ Shaddox, former Wildlife Services employee, March 2016.
Eating farm animals comes along with a hefty side of tortured and slaughtered wildlife. Sliced buffalo, chopped cougar, minced wolf and creamed coyote pup are appetizers alongside every “cheap” hamburger or lamb chop.
Across the planet, wildlife and their habitat are being destroyed to graze livestock for meat production. The rain forests of the world, with all their diversity, have been razed to grow feed and graze cattle. Livestock comprise 60 percent of the world’s mammals, humans 36 percent, and only 4 percent are wild. Sixty percent of large wild mammals face extinction right now. Humans choosing to eat animals bears much of the blame.
In addition to destroying wildlife habitat to raise farm animals, humans are killing wildlife with the notion that wild animals are a significant threat to livestock.
Rachael Bael wrote a 2016 article for National Geographic featuring a picture of a trapper holding up a dead wolf he shot from a helicopter. She writes, “Wildlife Services is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it specializes in killing wild animals that threaten livestock — especially predators such as coyotes, wolves, and cougars.”
Bael was reporting on an investigation by reporter Christopher Ketcham published in Harper’s in March 2016: “The Rogue Agency: A USDA agency that tortures dogs and kills endangered species.” Ketchum describes the testing done on stray dogs taken to a garbage dump to test M-44. The M-44 is a spring-loaded sodium cyanide device that is planted in the ground to kill coyotes (or any animal that comes across it).
He sets the scene: The supervisor, Charles Brown, tells his employee, Shaddox, that they will be doing a test of M-44 poison — with dogs.
“A truck with shelter dogs of various breeds pulls up: The pound officer removed a small collie from the truck, and Brown took it by the neck. The animal, docile and quiet, stared at its captors.
“Brown brandished an M-44 cartridge. He forced the dog’s mouth open and, with his thumb, released the trigger on the device. It sprayed a white dust of cyanide into the collie’s mouth.
“The dog howled. It convulsed. It coughed blood. It screamed in pain. The animals in the truck heard its wailing. They beat against their cages and cried out.
“’All right,’ said Brown to his trappers. ‘See, this stuff may be out of date, but it still works.’ He opened a capsule of amyl nitrite under the collie’s nose. Amyl nitrite is an immediate antidote to cyanide poisoning.
“The collie heaved and wheezed. Brown then seized it and unleashed another M-44 dose. The dog screamed again. … Brown kicked the collie into the garbage pit.”
Shaddox, whose job is to trap and kill coyotes for ranchers, is quoted in the article as saying, “’He (Brown) and the other trappers thought it was funny…It’s convulsing and dying, and he’s laughing. And this is what he’s teaching his men. That was just a hell of a way to die. No sympathy, no feeling, no nothing. I’m no animal-rights guy. But heartless bastards is all they were. Right there, that’s the culture. And these are federal employees. This is what your government is doing to animals.
This is what your federal government is doing to animals here in Wisconsin, and predator-killing contests going on now and for years with no regulation by the state DNR are further decimating our wildlife.
Ketchum’s Harper’s article documents some of the known destruction of our country’s wildlife: “Since 2000, Wildlife Services operatives have killed at least 2 million native mammals and 15 million native birds. Many of these animals are iconic in the American West and beloved by the public. Several are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In 2014, Wildlife Services killed 322 wolves, 61,702 coyotes, 2,930 foxes, 580 black bears, 796 bobcats, five golden eagles, and three bald eagles. The agency also killed tens of thousands of beavers, squirrels, and prairie dogs. The goal of this slaughter, according to the agency’s literature, is to provide ‘federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts and create a balance that allows people and wildlife to coexist peacefully.’”
In the article, Carter Niemeyer, who worked for Wildlife Services for 25 years, describes the self-reporting of livestock deaths, lack of confirmation, and the methods used to kill natural beings who dare to eat:
“’By the time Niemeyer retired, in 2000, after twenty-five years at the agency, he had personally killed hundreds of coyotes and had overseen the deaths of thousands more. On some days, working in Montana, Niemeyer skinned ten coyotes an hour as helicopters hauled the heaped carcasses in from the backcountry. (The government sold the skins for revenue.) Wildlife Services gunned down coyotes from airplanes and helicopters. Its trappers used poison baits, cyanide traps, leghold traps, and neck snares. They hauled coyote pups from dens with lengths of barbed wire, strangled them, or clubbed them. Sometimes they set the animals on fire in the dens, or suffocated them with explosive cartridges of carbon monoxide. ‘We joked about using napalm,’ Niemeyer told me.
To be continued — no end in sight.
Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, has authored a bill to end wildlife killing contests in Wisconsin! Contact both your state senator and representative and say, “Please sign on to LRB 1453/1″ (Contact your Republican representative to sponsor an Assembly companion bill). Also contact Sen. Risser at 608-266-1627 and Sen.Risser@legis.wisconsin.gov to support this effort. Make sure they take down your name and address.
Only public outrage will engage the attention of Gov. Evers to end predator-killing contests. If this is worth a few minutes of your time, contact him at EversInfo@wisconsin.gov and 608-267-2560. Here is the Humane Society’s tool kit for ending killing contests.
This article as originally published in the Madison CapTimes on January 27, 2019.