Doña Ana County Commission reversed a decision made in April intended to stop using county funds for lethal predator and rodent control.
This April, the Doña Ana County Commission passed a resolution 4:1 that ensured “Farm and Ranch Improvement Funds” (or FRIF) used for predator and rodent control must be used only on non-lethal methods going forward. Less than two months later, the commission repealed their resolution 4:0, with commissioner Reynolds abstaining.
FRIF can also be spent on soil and water conservation, road maintenance, and noxious weed control, but for years the County has exclusively used up to $17,000 --matched with an equal amount of general county funds--to pay a federal agency called Wildlife Services to “control” predator animals and rodents, mostly through lethal methods.
April’s resolution would not have affected the county’s contract with Wildlife Services as long as the agency spent half of their budget on non-lethal animal control. However, the agency and their supporters vehemently opposed the resolution and put immense pressure on the commissioners.
Today, the county commission repealed their April resolution and replaced it with one that imposes modest new reporting requirements on Wildlife Services (which the agency complained about) but essentially continues the status quo.
The resolution passed today also contains language that describes the indiscriminate and cruel practice of using leghold traps to capture animals as “effective and humane” despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
Statement from Amanda Munro, Southwest Environmental Center communications director:
“April’s resolution reflected the public’s changing values towards wildlife. We live in an incredibly diverse county where interactions with wildlife are inevitable. This resolution showed that we don’t have to deal with so-called ‘nuisance’ animals by killing them, but should only do so if the animal poses a real threat to human health.
We are extremely disappointed to see that under pressure from Wildlife Services and their allies, our county commission reversed its position and ruled once again in favor of the status quo. While we applaud the commission’s push for more transparency and accountability from Wildlife Services, it does not go nearly far enough. And we are appalled that the commission apparently believes that the cruel and indiscriminate practice of trapping is humane. Traps and poisons are like land mines, and have no place on public lands in our county.”
SWEC is calling on county commissioners to include the following items in any new contract with Wildlife Services:
- Requirement that non-lethal methods be prioritized;
- Prohibitions on aerial gunning; use of leghold traps, snares and poisons;
- Additional quarterly reporting requirements:
- The number and type of animals captured, by method, on public or private land, target or unintentional, and disposition of animal;
- The number of request for services, including repeat requests from the same entity;
- Number and type of public outreach efforts, by species.
- Quarterly reports will be posted on Wildlife Services and Doña Ana County websites.
On July 9th, the county commission will re-enter a contract with Wildlife Services. The public has until then to request amendments and make comments.