For Immediate Release, October 31, 2014
Contact: Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960
Rogue Wildlife-killing Program Wins 2014 Rubber Dodo Award
TUCSON, Ariz.— The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, which has dramatically ramped up its notorious wildlife-killing campaign across the United States, is the recipient of the Center for Biological Diversity’s 2014 Rubber Dodo Award, given annually to those who have done the most to drive species extinct. The program killed more than 2 million native animals in 2013, a 30 percent increase over the previous year. The tally of the dead included 320 gray wolves, 75,000 coyotes, 419 black bears and scores of other animals.
Previous Rubber Dodo winners include the Koch brothers (2013), climate denier James Inhofe (2012), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2011), former BP CEO Tony Hayward (2010), massive land speculator Michael Winer (2009), Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (2008) and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (2007).
“No other government program does more every day to annihilate America’s wildlife than Wildlife Services,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “This rogue program does much of its dirty work far from the public’s view, so millions of animals disappear from our landscapes every year with little accountability.”
Most of Wildlife Services’ killing is done on behalf of the livestock and agriculture industries, along with other powerful interests. The methods are gruesome, including aerial gunning, traps and exploding cyanide caps. Pets have also been inadvertently harmed.
“Wildlife Services seems to delight in the endless slaughter of coyotes, wolves, bears, beavers and countless birds,” Suckling said. “It’s a shameful legacy that should have no place in American government in the 21st century.”
More than 12,500 people cast their votes in this year’s Rubber Dodo contest. Other official nominees were Rep. Doc Hastings, who has pushed to erode the Endangered Species Act; pesticide maker Monsanto; and notorious Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
Background on the Dodo
In 1598, Dutch sailors landing on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius discovered a flightless, three-foot-tall, extraordinarily friendly bird. Its original scientific name was Didus ineptus. (Contemporary scientists use the less defamatory Raphus cucullatus.) To the rest of the world, it’s the dodo — possibly the most famous extinct species on Earth after the dinosaurs. It evolved over millions of years with no natural predators and eventually lost the ability to fly, becoming a land-based consumer of fruits, nuts and berries. Having never known predators, it showed no fear of humans or the menagerie of animals accompanying them to Mauritius.
Its trusting nature led to its rapid extinction. By 1681 the dodo had vanished, hunted and outcompeted by humans, dogs, cats, rats, macaques and pigs. Humans logged its forest cover while pigs uprooted and ate much of the understory vegetation.
The origin of the name dodo is unclear. It likely came from the Dutch word dodoor, meaning “sluggard,” the Portuguese word doudo, meaning “fool” or “crazy,” or the Dutch word dodaars meaning “plump-arse” (that nation’s name for the little grebe).
The dodo’s reputation as a foolish, ungainly bird derives in part from its friendly naiveté and the very plump captives that were taken on tour across Europe. The animal’s reputation was cemented with the 1865 publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Based on skeleton reconstructions and the discovery of early drawings, scientists now believe that the dodo was a much sleeker animal than commonly portrayed. The rotund European exhibitions were likely produced by overfeeding captive birds.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.