Agency chooses death

  Killing is the method most frequently used by the federal government to control livestock predators such as coyotes, lions and bears, according to a recent report by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Although guidelines for Animal Damage Control staff require them to consider non-lethal methods of control first, federal investigators found they turned to lethal methods in virtually all cases. In 1994, for example, ADC killed more than 100,000 predators, almost all coyotes. This was not a surprise to Tom Skeele, director of the nonprofit Predator Project in Montana, though he says the report "reveals a bit more truth about the program I affectionately refer to as "All the Dead Critters." "''''Agency spokesman Stuart McDonald, based in Lakewood, Colo., says that few options other than killing predators exist for field personnel. Usually, he says, ranchers have tried non-lethal methods such as guard dogs and fences, and failed; then they call ADC. For a copy of Animal Damage Control: Efforts to Protect Livestock from Predators, write General Accounting Office, 441 G St. NW, Room 1116, Washington, DC 20548 (202/512-8021).