Latest: Wildlife Services to revisit predator removal effects

A court order requires that the agency toss out its 22-year-old environmental impact assessment.

  • A Wildlife Services trapper holds a wolf shot in Idaho.

    U.S. Department of Agriculture
 

BACKSTORY
Wildlife Services has long rankled wildlife advocates; in 2014, the federal agency killed 2.7 million animals — golden eagles, barn owls, black-tailed prairie dogs, mountain lions and wolves as well as invasive species. The agency researches but rarely uses nonlethal alternatives, and reform has been stalled in part because half of its budget, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is funded by contracts with state and county municipalities, ranchers and businesses (“The Forever War,” HCN, 1/25/16).

FOLLOWUP
In October, a federal court approved a settlement between the Santa Fe-based nonprofit WildEarth Guardians and Wildlife Services in Nevada, stating that the agency can no longer rely on its 22-year-old, nationwide baseline assessment and must perform a new analysis of how native wildlife removal cumulatively impacts the environment in Nevada. Wildlife Services agreed to update other state analyses that rely on the old assessment, and will halt work in Nevada’s wilderness and wilderness study areas until the new one is finished.