Disinfecting Wildlife Services

An editorial in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee provided yet another opportunity to use the quote from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (to which I referred in my inaugural post, and several times since): “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants, electric light the most efficient policeman.”

It seems all the sunlight two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and Bee reporter Tom Knudson shone on USDA’s Wildlife Services with his recent three-part investigative series has prompted further  inquiry—this time by the U.S. Congress. According to The Bee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) “have said they plan to ask the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate.” [1]

It’ll be fascinating to see what that investigation yields (though I don’t know how much of it will be made available to the public). One thing seems clear already, however: the public—along with at least two of the people elected to represent them—are fed up with the way Wildlife Services is using our precious tax dollars. And with the agency’s secrecy. (The fact that Knudson was able to obtain the details necessary to report the story only through Freedom of Information Act requests is both telling and unsettling.)

I agree with The Bee that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack “ought to make Wildlife Services contracts a matter of public record—as well as money received from states, counties, cities, livestock businesses and individual farmers and ranchers to control predators.” [1] But I have strong reservations about “return[ing] Wildlife Services to the Department of the Interior, which has a mission to manage healthy ecosystems.” [1]

As I’ve reported on numerous occasions the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—which reports to DOI—has a truly abysmal record when it comes to the management of free-roaming cats. Sloppy science, sloppy policy, and sloppy practices. (And USFWS has its own problems with FOIA requests.)

All of which raises serious question about DOI’s willingness and/or ability to fulfill its mission.

Literature Cited
1. n.a. (2012, May 27). Editorial: Put pressure on Wildlife Services. The Sacramento Bee, p. 6E, from http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/27/4517631/put-pressure-on-wildlife-services.html


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