WildEarth Guardians Sues Government Wildlife Killing Agency For Documents
APHIS Failed to Provide Documents Supporting Beaver Killing Program in New Mexico
Why would the federal government kill beaver? It would appear it does not want the public to know. WildEarth Guardians has been forced to file a lawsuit to make the Animal and Health Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) produce records that justify it’s killing of beaver and other aquatic animals in New Mexico. The Wildlife Services, a branch of APHIS, kills beaver upon request of landowners in many states across the country and WildEarth Guardians is challenging the wisdom of this practice.
“Beaver are critical in protecting water and creating habitat for many other animals and plants,” Said Bryan Bird, WildEarth Guardians’ ecologist. “We want to be certain killing them is not harming protected fish and wildlife, but the federal government will not give us their records.”
The United States Department of Agriculture “Wildlife Services” kills an average of 31 beavers a year in New Mexico alone and over the last decade has killed nearly 230,000 nationwide. And yet beaver are crucial in creating wetlands, maintaining wildlife habitat, controlling flooding and even adapting to climate change. Numerous animals depend on the wetlands engineered by beaver including river otter, cutthroat trout, leopard frog and the willow flycatcher.
WildEarth Guardians is working to reestablish beaver and their habitats in the West as a climate change adaptation strategy but the federal government is countering these efforts with a taxpayer funded killing plan. In December 2011, the New Mexico office of APHIS issued its decision to remove and kill beaver in cooperation with the state game and fish department.
WildEarth Guardians and its members have strongly protested this program and asked for non-lethal alternatives, such as relocating problem beaver. When APHIS made its decision, WildEarth Guardians requested the records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) supporting and describing the benefits and costs of the beaver killing program in New Mexico. When the agency failed to produce any records, WildEarth Guardians filed suit under the FOIA as provided by law.
This government agency has a problem with transparency and turning over records to the public,” said bird. “It seems they have something to hide form taxpayers.”
As a keystone species, beaver can play a significant role in efforts to improve ecological conditions and build resilience and adaptation to climate change in the in the watersheds that provide our water supply. Beaver populations, with their dams and ponds and the wetlands and the aquatic ecosystems associated with each, can increase with each, can increase water storage of streams that are undergoing dramatic changes in runoff patterns.
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