Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 24, 2018

Contact:  Collette Adkins, (651) 955-3821,
Marjorie Fishman, (202) 446-2128,

California County Suspends Contract With Federal Wildlife-killing Agency

Shasta County to Seek Alternatives to Killing More Than 35,000 Animals a Year

REDDING, Calif.— Responding to legal pressure from a coalition of animal-protection and conservation groups, Shasta County officials today announced that the county has suspended its contract with the notorious federal wildlife-killing program known as Wildlife Services. The program has killed more than 35,000 animals a year in the county.

The county’s decision came after coalition members warned Shasta County in June that its contract with Wildlife Services violates the California Environmental Quality Act. Coalition members include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Mountain Lion Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Project Coyote and WildEarth Guardians.

“Wildlife Services is a rogue wildlife-killing agency, and California residents deserve better than to have their tax dollars spent on the trapping, poisoning and shooting of innocent animals,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “We hope Shasta County will now stick to nonlethal options to address wildlife conflicts.”​

Shasta County’s previous contract authorized Wildlife Services to kill hundreds of bears and coyotes, as well as thousands of birds and muskrats and other animals in the county, every year, without assessing the ecological damage or considering alternatives. Peer-reviewed research shows such indiscriminate killing of wild animals results in broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity.

Over the past two years, Wildlife Services has killed 72,385 animals in Shasta County using traps, snares and firearms. The program’s methods also killed non-target species — including domestic dogs — and may have harmed threatened and endangered species like tricolored blackbirds.

“This decision is a major victory for Shasta County's coyotes, bears and other wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “All the latest science shows predator control is expensive, ineffective and inhumane. We’re glad Shasta County recognizes there’s no basis for continuing to shoot, trap and strangle thousands of animals every year.”

Shasta is the latest county in California to reexamine its contract with Wildlife Services amid pressure from animal advocates. In 2015, following a lawsuit, Mendocino County agreed to fully evaluate nonlethal predator-control alternatives. Two years later a California court ruled in favor of the wildlife coalition, finding that Monterey County had to conduct an environmental review process before renewing its contract with Wildlife Services.

“Shasta County is home to dozens of threatened and endangered species that are at risk of being maimed or killed by Wildlife Services’ use of archaic and indiscriminate methods. By discontinuing its contract, Shasta County is helping to ensure that these species, which are already struggling to survive, have a better chance at recovery,” said Johanna Hamburger, wildlife attorney at the Animal Welfare Institute.

“Many nonlethal alternatives exist that effectively reduce, if not eliminate, conflicts between livestock and predators,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote.

“We are encouraged to see counties across California catch up to the best available science indicating the efficacy of nonlethal methods,” said Michelle Lute, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. “As more and more counties like Shasta cancel their contract killing of wildlife, they will see that lives can be saved and livelihoods can be sustained with ethical, effective coexistence.”


Coyote photo by Tom Koerner, USFWS. Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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