COMES NOW Plaintiffs/Petitioners above named, as and for their complaint against Defendants/Respondents, allege as follows:
1. NRS 501.100 provides:
Wildlife in this State not domesticated and in its natural habitat is part of the natural resources belonging to the people of the State of Nevada.
The preservation, protection, management and restoration of wildlife within the State contribute immeasurably to the aesthetic, recreational and economic aspects of these natural resources.

Continue reading the Amended Complaint Writ of Mandamus 122014

The Rise of the Mesopredator

Apex predators have experienced catastrophic declines throughout the world as a result of human persecution and habitat loss. These collapses in top predator populations are commonly associated with dramatic increases in the abundance of smaller predators. Known as “mesopredator release,” this trophic interaction has been recorded across a range of communities and ecosystems. Mesopredator outbreaks often lead to declining prey populations, sometimes destabilizing communities and driving local extinctions. We present an overview of mesopredator release and illustrate how its underlying concepts can be used to improve predator management in an increasingly fragmented world.

The loss of apex predators, wolves and other large carnivores, as a result of persecution and habitat conversion has created outbreaks of mesopredator populations throughout the world. An example of this is the strong suppression of wolves, mountain lions and black bears, whereby their range has decreased by 42.3%, 36.6%, and 39.5% respectively. On the other hand, the range of coyotes has increased by almost exactly the same amount, 40.2%. Throughout North America, 60% of mesopredator ranges has increased over the past 200 years. In short, when one predator is eradicated another rises to take its place.

The ecological release of mesopredators has negatively affected our oceans, rivers, forests, and grasslands, placing added strains on prey species that in many cases are already struggling. As songbird populations precipitously decline and other prey populations collapse as a result of, in part, elevation predation rates, the full ecological, social, and economic implications of mesopredator release are beginning to emerge. Restoration of apex predators to areas where thy have been extirpated could do much to stem the tide of undesirable consequences of mesopredator release. However, the daunting task of apex predator conservation will require substantial habitat restoration, greater public acceptance of large carnivores, and compromises among the people most directly affected by these predators. Careful application of trophic theory and strategies to balance the trade-offs inherent to the management of apex and meso- predators are urgently needed; reversing and preventing mesopredator release is becoming increasingly difficult and costly as the world’s top predators continue to edge toward obliteration.

See the complete article here:

Animal torture called “a regular practice” within federal Wildlife Services

“This agency as become an outlet for people to abuse animals for no particular reason [and at taxpayer expense]” ~Rep. John Campbell, R-CA

It was a productive day for Gary Strader when he pulled his vehicle up to a remote site in northeast Nevada and found nine coyotes caught in leg hold snares set by the federal government. As was routine, Strader, a former trapper with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, signaled his dogs to attack.

His supervisor, who had accompanied him that day, watched and laughed as the dogs circled the coyotes and ripped into them, Strader recalled.

“That was regular practice,” said Strader, who in 2009 left Wildlife Services, a little-known program within the USDA. The program is tasked with humanely killing wildlife seen as a threat to the environment and livestock, as well as protecting the public from wildlife hazards to commercial planes at airports.

“You let your dogs fight with them. That was part of the job,” said Strader. “There’s not a person in Wildlife Services who is not aware of it.”

The brutal approach by Wildlife Services is part of a culture of animal cruelty that has long persisted within an agency that uses taxpayer money to wage an unnecessary war on wildlife, according to two U.S. congressmen who have repeatedly called for a thorough investigation.

“It is completely out of control,” Rep. Campbell (R-CA) said. “They need to be brought into the 21st century.”

Campbell and Rep. Peter Defazio, D-Ore., penned a letter last November to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack calling for a complete audit of the “culture” within Wildlife Services – in particular its lethal Predator Control program – by the USDA Office of Inspector General. Vilsack responded in a letter dated Feb. 1, saying an investigation into animal cruelty allegations was under way by the Administrative Investigations and Compliance Branch of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“USDA does not condone any form of animal cruelty and holds all employees responsible for adhering to Departmental and Agency standards and directives,” Vilsack wrote. “WS personnel are expected to use approved and humane methods to euthanize captured or restrained animals whenever practicable, and in accordance with American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.”

But the lawmakers say several serious questions remain unanswered.

“I don’t understand why it should be the responsibility of the federal government to attempt to – very ineffectively and, in fact, probably detrimentally – remove wildlife that has not been implicated in attacks on people and cattle,” said Defazio, who for two decades has championed the defunding of Wildlife Services.

Evidence showing animal cruelty has not been difficult to uncover.

In October, photos were discovered on the personal Facebook account of Wildlife Services employee Jamie P. Olson. The images showed dogs snarling at and biting into live coyotes trapped in steel foot-holds, as well as pictures of coyote carcasses. The photos were allegedly posted in an album titled “work,” but it remains unclear whether they were taken while Olson was on the job or not.

Olson, who works for Wyoming Wildlife Services, is still employed, but the matter is being investigated, according to Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which oversees Wildlife Services.

Wildlife Services declined to make Olson available for comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

When asked whether it was acceptable practice to have dogs attack trapped animals, Bannerman responded: “In terms of a trapped animal, that would be considered unacceptable.”

Bannerman explained that Wildlife Services regularly educates ranchers on various non-lethal methods that can be used to protect livestock – including better fencing, guard dogs and night patrols.

But, she said, “Sometimes ranchers will come to us at a point and say, ‘Okay, we’re trying all these things and we’re still experiencing a loss.”

To the farm industry, predator control is a critical factor in maintaining the success of the nation’s agriculture.

“We do not condone inhumane or cruel treatment of any animals,” said Paul Schlegel, director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “At the same, our farmers and ranchers recognize the important role played by USDA’s Wildlife Services office.”

“Livestock producers and row crop farmers all have significant investments in the land and in producing the food and fiber upon which millions of Americans depend,” Schlegel said. “We support effective predator control programs that assist farmers in bringing their products to market and recognize the important role those programs play in helping to feed and clothe America.”

But Campbell and Defazio, as well as various environmental groups, claim the government’s mission is excessive and cruel – and argue it should not be the taxpayers’ responsibility to protect private land and livestock.

Strader’s statements, for example, illustrate a particularly dark side of the agency’s killing methods.

“They wanted every single coyote killed,” he said.

Strader said he was often tasked with hunting for coyote dens while working for the government in remote areas of Utah and Nevada. He described how he would lower his stethoscope into the hole and listen for breathing or whining from the coyote puppies. Then he would drop a phosphorus bomb into the den and cover its opening with dirt.

“The bombs burn so fast and so hot that it sucks all the oxygen out of the hole,” he said. “They suffocate.”

“I had to kill hundreds of coyote pups and pregnant females,” Strader continued. “If you found a coyote den, you just bombed it.”

Strader, as well as several others, including a management source within the USDA, also charged that Wildlife Services employees often do not abide by trap-check laws — meaning animals can be left for days in traps where they die from starvation or the elements.

Strader claims his job was terminated in 2009 after he alerted supervisors to alleged wrongdoing within the agency. He said his views on trapping animals have changed since he left.

Coyotes primarily feed on small mammals, like rabbits, rodents and squirrels, but they can also prey on larger animals like deer and livestock. Biologists say natural predators, like coyotes, are vital to a healthy ecosystem because they keep other species’ populations down. And the more coyotes that are killed, the more coyotes will reproduce. If a member of the pack is killed, for instance, the alpha female responds by producing more litters.

“Not only is this ethically indefensible, it’s ecologically insane,” Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, said of the killings each year by the predator control program.

A culture of cruelty has existed within the agency for decades, according to critics.

Rex Shaddox, a Texas law enforcement officer who worked for Wildlife Services in the 1980’s, said he left the agency – which at the time was called Animal Damage Control – after a particularly disturbing occurrence.

Shaddox said he and other workers were ordered to report to a city dump in Uvalde, Texas, to witness agency officials experiment with M-44 sodium cyanide on dogs from a local pound that were supposed to be euthanized.

“We were told to watch as they held the dogs down and shot cyanide into their mouths, one by one,” he said. “I went home and cried that day. And then I quit.”

See original story at FoxNews.

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation in Wyoming: Understanding It, Preserving It, and Funding Its Future


In 2013, both the Wyoming Legislature and the public lambasted the
Wyoming Game and Fish Department (Department) for requesting license fee
increases to help fund the agency. They argued that hunters and anglers already
shouldered the bulk of the fiscal responsibility for managing wildlife, and a new fee
increase could discourage some from purchasing licenses. Ultimately, the funding
measure failed, but the debate brought to the forefront the risks and challenges of
relying exclusively on the funding model known as the North American Model of
Wildlife Conservation—an ideology developed over the past several generations
to manage and protect the future of all Wyoming’s wildlife…..Wyoming Law Review NAMWC Who Pays for Wildlife 2014

Authors:  David Willms and Anne Alexander

Trapping Incident Reports from TrailSafe

TrailSafe has assembled a database of reports made detailing the trapping of HUMANS and PETS.   In summary, the incident reports reflect:

–1 hiker caught in a snare trap at a popular local attraction

–3 incidents where people narrowly missed being trapped, including 1 small CHILD

–63 pet dogs & 9 cats trapped, plus 2 reported as near misses

–26 trappings or crippled animals sightings in urban/suburban areas

–6 reports of traps set on private property without the land owner’s permission

–12 pleas for trapping regulations without specific reports of injuries

–6 reports of wild animals maimed, trying to chew their way out of the traps, or dragging traps into peoples yards in urban/suburban areas


Follow this link for the detailed incident reports collected by TrailSafe.

Unintended victims

A key problem with any kind of trap is the lack of discrimination. For every intended victim (“target” animal) of the traps, there are 2 to 10 unintended victims: birds, porcupines, deer, cats, dogs and other animals are caught, maimed and killed in traps.  Even animals listed under the Endangered Species Act are caught and killed. In the industry, these unintended victims are referred to as “trash” animals.  Our wildlife agencies call them “non target” species.  There have also been cases where children were caught in these traps.  Worldwide, about 10 MILLION animals are trapped annually.

Within the first 30 minutes of capture, a trapped animal can tear her flesh, rip tendons, break bones, and even knock out teeth as she bites the trap to escape. Before Sweden banned leg hold traps their government carried out a trapping campaign against foxes. Of the 645 foxes that were trapped, 514 were considered seriously injured. The trapped foxes had struggled desperately to get free, and over 200 of them had knocked out teeth. Some of the foxes had even knocked out 18 teeth as they bit the trap trying to escape. Some animals will even bite off their own limbs in a desperate attempt to escape. The fact that an animal would severe her own limb shows how horrible the experience of being caught in a leg hold trap is. A study in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge found that 27.6 percent of mink, 24 percent of raccoon, and 26 percent of trapped fox would actually bite their limbs off in hopes of surviving. In many cases the animals died from blood loss, infection, and inability to hunt with an amputated limb. This study was carried out over a 4 year period, and involved many trappers with varying degrees of skill. Therefore, these percentages are fairly indicative of what happens with the various species targeted by Nevada trappers. Another study, conducted in 1980, found that 37 percent of raccoons mutilated themselves when caught in a leg hold trap.

All but two of the U.S. states require traps to be checked in intervals shorter than Nevada’s 96 hours (some states require daily trap checking). Several U.S. states and 88 countries have banned the steel-jawed leg hold trap, which is notorious for its cruelty especially when trappers don’t visit their traps for days or weeks at a time. Many trappers now get around this ban by using other types of traps, including snare traps, conibear traps or leg hold traps with a thin layer of padding added. Once the trapper finds the captured animal, if the animal is still alive, the trapper will usually club or stomp the animal to death. Shooting is not as popular because the trapper would risk damaging the pelt.

Nevada’s fairy-tale wildlife management

Question: When does a state wildlife commission turn into a death commission? Answer: When it does what Nevada did last December. That’s when the Nevada Wildlife Commission approved a $212,000 raid on the state’s Heritage Fund, a reserve dedicated to wildlife conservation projects.

But instead of conservation, the Nevada Wildlife Commission redirected the Heritage Fund money to two fringe hunting groups, Hunter’s Alert and the Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife. They, in turn, planned to funnel it to the federal Wildlife Services, the agency that specializes in killing some 1.5 million predators every year. Meanwhile, the state’s wildlife agency was told to stand down in its oversight duty concerning the expenditure to kill carnivores such as coyotes, ravens, mountain lions and badgers.

The situation is beyond controversial; it is nothing short of outrageous, though recently, federal wildlife officials say they won’t proceed with plans to kill lions and other carnivores unless there is full support in Nevada for the effort, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Full support is not likely to happen soon. Cecil Fredi, the president of Hunter’s Alert, called the divisive situation over the decline of mule deer “a war.”

The hunter groups argue that if you kill the animals that kill mule deer and sage grouse, the population of prey animals will rebound. Studies, however, show that this doesn’t work, and in this case, Nevadans will be burdened with illegitimate expenditures to do something that’s bound to fail, while the real hardship will be to Nevada’s ecological systems.

The $212,000 allocation the state wildlife commission made from the Heritage Fund supplements an already sizable annual expenditure to kill lions and other predators. Nevada hunters are taxed $3 for each big game license they purchase to fund continued killing. The resultant annual budget is between $350,000 and $450,000. Additionally, the Nevada Department of Wildlife dedicates another $17,000-to-$25,000 to the cause, so that all together, the state’s wildlife department spends approximately $500,000 to kill native carnivores each year.

Tina Nappe, a former member of Nevada’s Wildlife Commission, blasted the commission in January, calling it “bloodthirsty for killing predators.” And a current commissioner, Mike McBeath, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he was concerned that some of his fellow commissioners were trying to oust the state wildlife director because he opposed spending more money to kill predators.

The belief that killing carnivores will benefit deer was dismissed as early as 1941, by the hunter and conservationist Aldo Leopold in his essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain.” Wolves were seen then as evil and rapacious, and thus were exterminated throughout the continental United States. The consequences of doing this were dire. Leopold noticed that with the demise of the wolf came an over-abundance of deer and harm to the mountain. Deer were free to strip the mountain of vegetation. The mountain, now barren, could not support deer and other species. Then the deer died in droves.

In the decades since, a profusion of scientific studies has shown that native carnivores are essential to maintaining biological diversity and the healthy functioning of ecosystems. A recent study found that mountain lions in Utah’s Zion National Park modulate deer populations and prevent overgrazing in fragile riparian systems. The balance has led to more cottonwoods, rushes, cattails, wildflowers, amphibians, lizards and butterflies and deeper, colder stream channels for native fish.

Native carnivores can benefit sage grouse, too. Despite their persecution, coyotes play a keystone role in sagebrush grasslands by preying upon medium-sized carnivores like skunks, foxes and raccoons, as well as competitors with sage grouse, such as jackrabbits.

In Nevada, fairy-tale beliefs are driving wildlife management rather than the best available science, state taxpayers are expected to pay for it, and what’s worse, targeting carnivores just doesn’t work: Hunters will not see more mule deer if native carnivores are killed. Mule deer suffer most from loss of habitat, state experts say, as well as years of drought, over-hunting and a host of other problems. As for sage grouse, research shows that the animals are also harmed by loss of habitat as well as livestock grazing, off-road vehicle use, sprawl and other land uses — but hardly from predation.

Nevada wildlife officials need to wake up and remember their Aldo Leopold and embrace science. What sage grouse and mule deer need are lots of good quality habitat with connectivity between subpopulations — not predator control. It’s time to stop this war on wildlife.

Wendy Keefover-Ring is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (

See the full story here.

Humans are wiping out species 1,000 x faster than nature can create new ones

Sometimes extinction happens naturally. Other times humans are to blame. Given the many millions of plant and animal species that have ever existed, it’s tough to know exactly how to assign responsibility. But new research indicates that we have an alarmingly large role.
Humans are wiping out species at least 1,000 times faster than nature is creating new species, according to a new study in Conservation Biology (paywall). And it’s getting much worse. In the future, plants and animal species will go extinct at 10,000 times the rate at which new species emerge, the researchers assert.
Looking at both fossils and genetic variation, the study found that nature snuffs out its own creations much more slowly than we’d realized—at a rate of only one species per every 10 million. Past estimates put the “normal background extinction rate”—the rate at which species would go extinct without human interference—at about 10 yearly extinctions for every 10 million species.
Since mankind hit the scene, however, more than 1,000 out of every 10 million species have been dying out each year.
“We’ve known for 20 years that current rates of species extinctions are exceptionally high,” said Stuart Pimm, one of the co-authors and president of the nonprofit organization SavingSpecies. “This new study comes up with a better estimate of the normal background rate—how fast species would go extinct were it not for human actions. It’s lower than we thought, meaning that the current extinction crisis is much worse by comparison.”
Here’s another way of thinking about it. Overall species’ diversity grows exponentially richer over time, as branches of news species diverge. The authors liken this to a person’s bank account. Think of your income as the number of new species, while your spending is those that go extinct. Every month when you get paid, your net worth jumps for a while, before spending whittles it down again. If your spending is constant, that monthly spike will rise over time as your salary increases—just as the number of new species should also rise over time. But the authors saw no such increase, implying that extinction is happening far too fast for the pace of new species creation to keep up.
Take birds, for instance. There are 10,000 species of birds, as Pimm explains in a blogpost. At nature’s rate of one extinction per 10 million species, the disappearance of a single bird species should therefore be a once-in-a-millennium event. However, since the year 1500, at least 140 birds have disappeared—including 13 species we only identified after they went extinct.

See original story.

Trapping Facts & Statistics

Total Trapping Licenses sold in the U.S. in 1997-98: 130,400

Top Five Species Trapped in the U.S. (1997-98) *

Raccoon … ~2,097,000
Muskrat … ~1,993,000
Nutria … ~398,000
Beaver … ~295,000
Opossum … ~234,000

Select List of Other Species Trapped in the U.S. (1997-98) *

Mink … ~164,000
Coyote … ~159,000
Red Fox … ~139,000
Otter … ~25,500
Gray Wolf … ~1,280

*Figures may include animals killed by means other than trapping due to poor record keeping by agencies and trappers.

Number of animals used to make an average length fur coat:
Badger 20 | Mink (Ranch) 60
Beaver 15 | Otter 14
Bobcat 15 | Rabbit 30
Chinchilla 100 | Raccoon 27
Coyote 16 | Red Fox 18
Ermine 125 | Sable 40
Lynx 11 | Silver Fox 11