The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general will investigate a federal agency whose mission is to exterminate birds, coyotes, mountain lions and other animals that threaten the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers.
The investigation of U.S. Wildlife Services is to determine, among other things, “whether wildlife damage management activities were justified and effective.” Biologists have questioned the agency’s effectiveness, arguing that indiscriminately killing more than 3 million birds and other wild animals every year is often counterproductive.
Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and John Campbell (R-Irvine) requested the review, calling for a complete audit of the culture within Wildlife Services. The agency has been accused of abuses, including animal cruelty and occasional accidental killing of endangered species, family pets and other animals that weren’t targeted.
DeFazio says the time has come to revisit the agency’s mission and determine whether it makes economic and biological sense for taxpayers to underwrite a service, however necessary, that he argues should be paid for by private businesses.