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Rep. DeFazio Applauds Governor Brown’s Recommended Cuts to Predator Control

Mar 21, 2017
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today sent a letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown applauding cuts to ineffective predator control programs at the Oregon Departments of Agriculture (ODA) and Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), which were laid out in her Recommended Budget.

In the last month alone, three dogs have been killed by cyanide bombs (also known as M-44 devices) used by Wildlife Services for predator control practices. In February, the gray wolf OR-48 was killed after ingesting poison from an M-44 device.

Governor Kate Brown suggested $940,280 in cuts to funding of predator control programs through ODA and ODFW in her Recommended Budget earlier this month. This money is used by Oregon counties with contracts through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services, an agency whose lethal predator control methods pose a significant threat to wildlife, people, and domestic pets.

“The deaths of three innocent dogs in the past month are only the latest needless tragedies due to the cruel use of M-44 devices,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04). “The Oregon taxpayer must stop footing the bill for these expensive, inhumane, and unnecessary methods of so-called ‘predator control’. I applaud Governor Brown for taking this first step towards reforming the broken Wildlife Services agency and urge the Legislature to follow suit.”

"Last week in Idaho one of Wildlife Services' poison devices killed a family's dog and just missed killing their 14-year-old son near their own back yard," said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of the Eugene-based wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense.  "This travesty is in addition to the thousands of pets they have already slaughtered in their quest to kill native predators. Ironically, the vast majority of predators they kill have not even preyed on livestock, and science shows that killing predators creates far more problems than it solves.  Unfortunately most Oregonians still don't know their taxes support this secretive, rogue federal agency. We’re grateful to Governor Brown for her support on this critical issue.”

Rep. DeFazio has worked to eliminate dangerous and ineffective predator control programs throughout his career, both in Congress and as Lane County Commissioner.

The full text of the letter is below. For a PDF version of the letter, click here.

The Honorable Kate Brown
254 State Capitol Building
900 Court Street, NE
Salem, OR 97310

Dear Governor Brown,

I applaud the $940,280 of cuts in your Recommended Budget to reduce funding for lethal control of predatory animals from the Oregon Departments of Agriculture and Fish and Wildlife.

Reducing funding for Oregon’s predatory animal control program is long overdue.  This money is used by counties for contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services, an agency whose methods pose a threat to wildlife, people and domestic pets.  Not only are Wildlife Services’ methods inherently dangerous, cruel, and indiscriminate, but the agency has a track record of negligence and unaccountability.

I have been trying to eliminate the Wildlife Services lethal predator control program for over 30 years, including when I served as a Lane County Commissioner in the 1980's. Over the years, I've been disheartened by disturbing instances where domestic pets and individuals in Oregon and other states have been poisoned by M-44 sodium cyanide ejectors set by Wildlife Services. I've had several constituents who have lost their beloved pets to these indiscriminate devices. So far in March three dogs have died in nearby states.  A 14-year-old boy in Idaho accidentally set off an M-44 not far from his backyard and watched his dog die an agonizing death in front of him. The only reason he wasn’t poisoned was because the wind was blowing the other direction.  And a family out for a walk on the prairie in Wyoming lost two dogs to an M-44 while their 8-year-old girl watched.  Scores of these devices are currently set in Oregon just waiting for another child or dog to trigger them.

Last month’s killing of wolf OR-48 after ingesting the poison from the M-44 device is yet another recent example of this agency’s careless and negligent use of dangerously indiscriminate lethal devices. Wildlife Services agent in Wallowa county had set a baited M-44 in an attempt to target coyotes at a landowner’s request.  Instead, wolf OR-48 tugged on the bait, cyanide was injected into his mouth, and he met a painful death.  

Wildlife Services is an agency that operates with little-to-no public accountability. They use taxpayer dollars to kill predators to benefit private ranching interests, among other activities.  They don’t use the best available science, which shows their methods are counter-productive.  In addition to M-44s, they use other lethal methods like aerial gunning, leghold traps, strangling neck snares, and Compound 1080 poison livestock protection collars.  These methods are expensive, inhumane, and unnecessary for the protection of humans and livestock. More effective, non-lethal methods are available, but they are widely ignored by Wildlife Services, who provides the ranchers no incentive to use them.        

Please do whatever you can to be sure your budget cuts to Wildlife Services survive the Legislature’s review of your Recommended Budget.



                                                                        Peter A. DeFazio
                                                                        Member of Congress