PNP comment: They will be sorry as there are an overabundance of predators in California. This is such a biased article, but, at least, they gave ranchers two short paragraphs at the bottom as a rebuttal. Truly a sad, soft and fuzzy, unpractical decision. — Editor Liz Bowen
on April 26, 2016
Wildlife advocates scored a major victory Tuesday when Mendocino County agreed to terminate its contract with the federal agency that helps ranchers kill predators such as mountain lions and coyotes that feast on livestock.
Environmental groups have long crusaded against what they characterize as indiscriminate killing of wildlife by an agency whose philosophy amounts to “the only good predator is a dead predator.” The decision by Mendocino County supervisors to sever ties with the division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture marks a rare instance of a California county opting to consider nonlethal methods of carnivore control.
Environmentalists had accused the county of violating the California Environmental Quality Act by hiring the Agriculture Department division known as Wildlife Services. Six environmental and animal protection groups claimed in a lawsuit that the county failed to consider nonlethal methods of animal control and should have done an environmental study on the effect that killing predators would have on the ecosystem before signing a contract with Wildlife Services.
“We’re thrilled,” said Jessica Blome, senior staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “This is the first lawsuit in the country that attacks Wildlife Services based on its relationships with local governments.”
Todd Smith of Oakland’s Thomas Law Group, which represented Mendocino County, said the Board of Supervisors had agreed to set aside the contract while conducting an environmental study.
“The county is happy to undertake this analysis so the members of this community can understand the benefits and the impacts associated with the wildlife management program,” Smith said. “The program has been effective for almost 30 years, so the county was a little surprised (by the lawsuit). That said, the county wants to comply with the law. In the end, the analysis will drive what the program looks like in the future.”
The issue has exacerbated tensions between ranchers and conservationists. Livestock owners in the far northern part of the state have threatened to use the “three S’s” — shoot, shovel and shut up — when confronted with environmentalists’ efforts to protect wolves, coyotes and other “vermin.”
There are as many as 700,000 coyotes in the state, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Mountain lions are also abundant, and both predators kill a lot of livestock, which are commodities that contribute to the state and local economy, said the California Cattlemen’s Association.
The recent discovery of a wolf pack in Siskiyou County has turned the issue of predator control into a major area of concern among ranchers.
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