The Great Depression-era program the Department of Agriculture uses to kill coyotes, mountain lions and other predators that threaten livestock is outdated, illegal and a waste of federal money, conservationists say in a new lawsuit.
Wildlife Services, an agency under USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, has refused for nearly two decades to conduct the environmental reviews necessary to justify the mass killings with traps, snares, poisons and aerial gunning, according to lawyers for WildEarth Guardians based in Sante Fe, N.M.
They are asking in a lawsuit filed Monday that a federal judge in Nevada shut down the agency that spent $127 million in 2010 to exterminate more than 5 million animals.
"We want the court to ban its poisons, silence its guns, and pull up its traps because it's a horrendous misuse of our tax dollars to slaughter the nation's bears, wolves, coyotes, and myriad other species," said Wendy Keefover, the group's director of carnivore protection.
APHIS spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said Tuesday agency officials had not yet reviewed the suit and she had no immediate comment directly on pending litigation, but added that the conservation group had misrepresented the agency's overall mission.
For more, see: Group sues USDA over predator killing program