Good report on Federal wildlife torture from a surprising source

Sometimes, even Fox News gets one right [trigger warnings, as you might expect from the post title]:

The brutal approach by Wildlife Services is part of a culture of animal cruelty that has long persisted within an agency that uses taxpayer money to wage an unnecessary war on wildlife, according to two U.S. congressmen who have repeatedly called for a thorough investigation.

“This agency has become an outlet for people to abuse animals for no particular reason,” Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., told

“It is completely out of control,” he said. “They need to be brought into the 21st century.”

The story covers an investigation that was spurred, in part, by revelations that USDA “Wildlife Services” employee Jamie P. Olson had posted photos of his dogs tearing trapped coyotes to pieces on Facebook. (Previously, on Pharyngula.) The issue’s been kept on the front burner by my colleague Camilla Fox at Project Coyote; she and her organization deserve your attention and support.


  1. viajera says

    Even a stopped clock, etc. Also, too, Fox would be happy to jump on any story that calls for shuttering yet another government agency.

    This abuse is disgusting and wrong, period. But I disagree with Fox’s (and DeFazio’s? WTH is up w/ him lately??) call to shut down Wildlife Services altogether (and no, I’m not associated with the agency in any way). While I disagree with the entire livestock predator management program – predators (apex as well as meso) are essential components of all communities – the agency does have other programs that are worthwhile. For example, NWRC’s work on invasive species, wildlife-transmitted diseases (e.g., Lyme disease, rabies), and overabundant mammals, e.g., hyperabundant deer that are wreaking havoc on Atlantic seaboard forests. I’d much rather see them make changes within the agency than throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    How does a culture like that perpetuate itself? Is Wildlife Services a magnet for sociopaths?

  3. chrisv says

    It is a truism that ANY group/organization/bureau that grows beyond ten members, or is more than, say, five years old, devolves into a self-serving beaurocracy, devoid of conscience and concern for the general welfare. It could be that controlled anarchy is ideal organizational model. (Note: just watch them cardinals deke and duck in search of the perfect avatar.) Richelieu’s law of Uncorrected Human Behaviour

  4. robro says

    While I deplore what WLS is doing, and it should certainly stop, I think Fox’s motives are suspect. The Republican legislators that Fox quotes are clearly more interested in “defunding” than they are in wildlife protection. I saw no mention of fixing the organization. They would probably support just shooting the animals as more humane and give ranchers freedom to do just that.

  5. moarscienceplz says

    This is what happens when wild lands are seen as nothing more than a collection of resources to be turned into cash as quickly as possible:
    Does the land have grass that can be turned into beef? Great!
    Uh, oh. It also has deer that eat the grass.
    No problem. The deer population just needs to be “managed” (i.e., shot for fun).
    Uh, oh. It has coyotes and wolves that used to eat the deer. Now they are eating the calves.
    No problem. The coyotes and wolves are “pests”. We just need some pest control.
    How are they going to “control” the pests?
    Who cares? They’re pests!

    Joseph Campbell would have instantly recognized this as a case of turning a “Thou” into an “It”. Same thing that enabled the Holocaust and all other genocides.

  6. says

    Actually, moarscienceplz might be thinking of Justin Buber:

    If I was your boyfriend, I’d never let you go
    I can interact with you entirely in encounter mode
    Baby, take a chance or you’ll never ever know
    I could perceive the entire universe through you, fo sho
    Swag, swag, swag, on you
    Chillin’ by the fire, me and Thou eatin’ fondue
    Transcending impersonal Experience just you and J-Bube
    So say hello to falsetto in three, two, swag

  7. moarscienceplz says

    Hi Stacy,
    Well, I got this from the PBS show, “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth”. Campbell didn’t credit Buber during that show. The Wikipedia description of Buber’s “Ich-Es” concept doesn’t make clear if it’s an intentional perception or an accidental one. Campbell’s description is emphatic that it is an intentional construct created specifically to allow extreme mistreatment of the target.

  8. consciousness razor says

    Actually, moarscienceplz might be thinking of Justin Buber:

    Worst mashup ever!!1!!!

  9. moarscienceplz says

    Hi Chris,
    I’m so out of touch with current music that I needed Google to figure out what the heck your post was going on about. I do love a good pun, tho! (or is it “yo”?)

  10. Ben P says

    Uh, oh. It also has deer that eat the grass.
    No problem. The deer population just needs to be “managed” (i.e., shot for fun).

    You do realize that given we’ve killed off almost all the apex predators in large parts of the country, the deer population will expand until it starts starving right?

  11. esmith4102 says

    The Michael Vicks of the USDA Wildlife Services – outrageous! Animal cruelty is a spot on diagnosis of serious character flaws!

  12. thumper1990 says

    @Ben P

    That’s kind of the point. Maybe people shouldn’t have killed off the apex predators in the first place? People created the situation that necessitates the wholesale slaughter of herbivores through the wholesale slaughter of carnivores. Moarscienceplz’s point was that every time humans engage in the slughter of an entire level of the food chain, it simply necessitates the wholesale slaughter of another level somewhere further down the line.

  13. moarscienceplz says

    @Ben P

    I’m sorry you missed my point. I’ll try to use smaller words next time.