Support the People's Contract for Coexisting with Wildlife

coyote

For years, Doña Ana County has used county funds to pay for an annual contract with a federal agency called Wildlife Services (part of USDA) to respond to "nuisance" wildlife calls, mostly by killing coyotes (at the request of ranchers) and skunks.

We thought that had finally changed when the County Commission passed a resolution last April, declaring that the county funds could only be used for "non-lethal" predator and rodent control. However, in response to complaints from Wildlife Services and its allies, the Commission reversed itself and repealed its own resolution on June 25th, replacing it with a new one that basically endorses the status quo. The new resolution actually declares that leghold traps, which are indiscriminate and cause enormous stress and often physical injury, are "humane and effective." On July 9th, the County Commission voted to include an amendment that required Wildlife Services to attempt non-lethal methods before resorting to lethal. Unfortunately, even that amendment was quickly rendered meaningless at the following meeting.

It is outrageous that our County Commission has taken this position that is so out of touch with the public's attitudes towards our wildlife. But we're not giving up. The Wildlife Services contract will be up for renewal again in the summer of 2020. We need to make sure that the new contract reflects our values, which we've encapsulated in a People's Contract for Coexisting with Wildlife (below)

TAKE ACTION:

  1. Contact your commissioner and let them know you support the People's Contract and you want them to support it as well.
  2. Sign the contract
  3. Next summer, we will present the signatures to Doña Ana county commissioners.

The Peoples Contract for Coexisting with Wildlife

We the people of Doña Ana County demand that any contract awarded by the County for addressing conflicts with wildlife explicitly incorporate the following principles and elements:

Principles:

  • Coexistence between humans and wildlife is the paramount goal. 

  • Proactive, non-lethal measures to resolve ongoing problems and avoid conflict are prioritized.

  • Native wildlife are killed only as a last resort, as humanely as possible, and every kill is carefully documented. 

  • Cruel and indiscriminate methods of capturing and killing wildlife are prohibited.

  • Implementation of this contract must be accountable and transparent to the public.

Elements:

Prioritize Non-lethal Methods
  • For each request for assistance, at least two attempts to resolve the problem using non-lethal methods are required before resorting to lethal methods, unless human health and safety are at risk. 

Prohibited practices
  • Aerial gunning is prohibited. This is a costly and wasteful use of public resources. 

  • Leghold traps and snares are prohibited. These methods are inhumane, indiscriminate, and a public safety hazard. All leghold traps, even those with offset jaws as used by Wildlife Services, cause enormous stress and often injury to the captured animal.

  • Poisons (including M44 sodium cyanide devices) are prohibited for use as control methods. These devices are inhumane, indiscriminate, potentially cause secondary poisoning to other animals, and are a public safety hazard. Because M44s are designed to attract canids, the potential for accidental poisoning of foxes and dogs is high. Between 2010-2017, there were 338 non target animals killed by M44s in New Mexico by Wildlife Services. 

Public Outreach 
  •  At least five percent of county funds allocated for any contract should be devoted to proactive outreach programs to educate large numbers of the public about how to coexist with wild animals and avoid conflicts. 

Accountability Measures
  • A detailed annual budget should be provided to the county, and posted on the County’s website, including salaries, benefits, vehicle expenses, administrative and training expenses, tools and expendable items/supplies.

  • An annual report should be provided to the county, and posted on the County’s website, detailing the results of a statistically valid data collection effort to determine rates of infection, by species and disease, in animals captured through contractual activities in Dona Ana county. 

  • Quarterly reports should be submitted to the County and posted on the County’s website, that include the following:

    • the type of land upon which contractual activities were carried out on; 

    • the number of hours worked per employee;

    • the number and types of animals captured, by which method, whether targeted or unintentional capture, location and land ownership type (i.e. private, city, state, EBID, BLM, etc.) and final disposition of the animal;

    • the number of requests for assistance, involving which species, for which reason (livestock protection, health, safety, nuisance, property protection, etc.), by land ownership type, including repeat requests by the same entity;

    • the number and type of outreach efforts completed, including estimated number of people reached, intended to educate large numbers of the public about how to coexist with wild animals and avoid conflicts.

Sign on to the contract here to make your voice heard.

 

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