Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in an effort to stop a government program that kills predators, including coyotes, mountain lions and bears, in ways the groups claim are cruel and ineffective.
The lawsuit challenges a U.S. Department of Agricultural sponsored program where Wildlife Services kills animals with strangulation snares, leg-hold traps poisons and guns. Just last year, the program killed almost 1.5 million animals nationwide.
The suit claims that the program’s Sacramento District practices are illegal because they are based on an environmental assessment that’s over 20 years old and “can no longer be reasonably relied upon without supplemental analysis.”
California law bans bobcat trapping and killing mountain lions unless under a special permit, and a 1998 ballot measure banned the use of various snares, traps and poisons for capturing or killing wildlife.
The lawsuit says that leg-traps cause serious injury to animals as they try to get free, including fractures, cuts, mangled limbs, frostbite, amputation and even death.
According to the lawsuit, the program unintentionally kills thousands of other animals, including protected species, like gray wolves, eagles, bears, horned owls and California condors.
The Wildlife Service’s website states that it protects more than $700 million in livestock resources every year. It adds that coyotes, skunks, opossums and racoons hide in backyard and under porches in urban areas, causing damage and carrying diseases.
The suit mentions that multiple scientific studies have questioned whether killing predators decreases livestock losses, and one study discovered the killings can backfire and may increase depredation.
The lawsuit asks for the court to rule that the Wildlife Service’s failure to update its environmental analysis is unlawful and to stop the program until a new evaluation has been completed.