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Four conservation organizations have filed a notice of intent this week to sue the US Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program over its allegedly large-scale – and “often secretive” – killing of wild animals in Idaho.

The Center for Biological Diversity claims that the program “kills millions of animals nationwide every year”, and in 2013 killed more than 3,000 mammals in Idaho alone via aerial gunning, neck snares, foothold traps and toxic devices known as M-44s that spray sodium cyanide into the victim’s mouth, causing tremendous suffering and releasing toxic chemicals into the environment. 

“It’s long overdue for Wildlife Services to be held accountable for killing wildlife and releasing pollutants into our environment,” said Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “We want an explanation for this deplorable expenditure of public funds.”

The lawsuit will challenge Wildlife Services’ alleged renewal of its efforts in Idaho to eradicate coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, foxes and other important carnivores from the landscape for the benefit of private livestock and agricultural interests.

coyoteCreativecommons.org/ Jitze Couperus

“One of the many problems with this program is the many unintended victims left in its wake, including endangered species,” said Andrea Santarsiere, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Grizzly bears, lynx and bull trout are all suffering at the hands of Wildlife Services, and that needs to stop.”

Wildlife Services has come under increasing criticism for the alleged ineffectiveness of its methods.

“Native carnivores and beavers are key parts of healthy, thriving ecosystems,” said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Wildlife Services needs to join the 21st century and follow the best available science to ensure its activities don't further damage Idaho's ecosystems.”

Western Watersheds Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, and Friends of the Clearwater are represented by Boise-based law firm Advocates for the West.