Commentary: Doña Ana County took a big step last week towards coexisting with wildlife by revising its annual contract with Wildlife Services for the first time in decades. Under pressure from the agency however, the contract will be back on the Doña Ana County Commission's agenda again in August.
The amendment in question introduced by Commissioner Manuel Sanchez requires the agency to attempt to resolve human-wildlife conflicts non-lethally before resorting to killing the animal. It is expected that an effort will be made at the August 13th County Commission meeting to strip out this amendment.
Wildlife Services has been using strong-arm tactics with New Mexico counties all month to maintain the status quo. The Grant County Commission voted recently to prohibit the agency from using traps and poisons, but came under intense pressure from Wildlife Services and its allies and reversed that decision last week.
“Wildlife Services has been bullying New Mexico county commissions into reversing decisions they don’t like, and it is completely unacceptable,” said Amanda Munro, communications director at the Southwest Environmental Center. “If any other company pulled stunts like this, it would be considered extortion. If Wildlife Services doesn’t like the Doña Ana County contract, our Commission should look into other companies willing to provide human-wildlife conflict resolution on our terms.”
Wildlife Services is an opaque federal agency that has faced backlash across the United States for the mass killing of native wildlife, largely to protect the interests of livestock operators. According to its own reports, Wildlife Services killed over 1.5 million native animals last year alone across the US. The agency has also been criticized for their use of M-44 cyanide bombs and cruel leghold traps on public lands.