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People’s Contract for Coexistence with Wildlife

Doña Ana County has the opportunity to take bold steps towards science-based wildlife coexistence. But to do so, we need activists within the county to demand the People’s Contract for Coexistence with Wildlife rather than a renewal of an indiscriminate killing contract with Wildlife Services.

Take the Pledge

The Peoples’ Contract for Coexisting with Wildlife

We the people of Doña Ana County demand that any contract awarded by the County for addressing conflicts with wildlife explicitly incorporate the following principles and elements:

Principles:

  • Coexistence between humans and wildlife is the paramount goal.
  • Proactive, non-lethal measures to resolve ongoing problems and avoid conflict are prioritized
  • Native wildlife are killed only as a last resort, as humanely as possible, and every kill is carefully documented.
  • Cruel and indiscriminate methods of capturing and killing wildlife are prohibited.
  • Implementation of this contract must be accountable and transparent to the public.

Elements:

Prioritize Non-lethal Methods

  • For each request for assistance, at least two attempts to resolve the problem using non-lethal methods are required before resorting to lethal methods, unless human health and safety are at risk.

Prohibited practices

  • Aerial gunning is prohibited. This is a costly and wasteful use of public resources.
  • Leghold traps and snares are prohibited. These methods are inhumane, indiscriminate, and a public safety hazard. All leghold traps, even those with offset jaws as used by Wildlife Services, cause enormous stress and often injury to the captured animal.
  • Poisons (including M44 sodium cyanide devices) are prohibited for use as control methods. These devices are inhumane, indiscriminate, potentially cause secondary poisoning to other animals, and are a public safety hazard. Because M44s are designed to attract canids, the potential for accidental poisoning of foxes and dogs is high. Between 2010-2017, there were 338 non target animals killed by M44s in New Mexico by Wildlife Services.

Public Outreach

  • At least five percent of county funds allocated for any contract should be devoted to proactive outreach programs to educate large numbers of the public about how to coexist with wild animals and avoid conflicts.

Accountability Measures

  • A detailed annual budget should be provided to the county, and posted on the County’s website, including salaries, benefits, vehicle expenses, administrative and training expenses, tools and expendable items/supplies.
  • An annual report should be provided to the county, and posted on the County’s website, detailing the results of a statistically valid data collection effort to determine rates of infection, by species and disease, in animals captured through contractual activities in Dona Ana county.
  • Quarterly reports should be submitted to the County and posted on the County’s website, that include the following:
    • the type of land upon which contractual activities were carried out on;
    • the number of hours worked per employee;
    • the number and types of animals captured, by which method, whether targeted or unintentional capture, location and land ownership type (i.e. private, city, state, EBID, BLM, etc.) and final disposition of the animal;
    • the number of requests for assistance, involving which species, for which reason (livestock protection, health, safety, nuisance, property protection, etc.), by land ownership type, including repeat requests by the same entity;
    • the number and type of outreach efforts completed, including estimated number of people reached, intended to educate large numbers of the public about how to coexist with wild animals and avoid conflicts.

The People’s Contract was conceived by Southwest Environmental Center and WildEarth Guardians.

If you are a Doña Ana County resident, click here to support the People’s Contract!

Background:

This April, the Doña Ana County Commission passed a resolution 4:1 that ensured “Farm and Ranch Improvement Funds” (or FRIF) used for predator and rodent control must be used only on non-lethal methods going forward. Less than two months later, that resolution was repealed after pressure from Wildlife Services staff and ranching interests.

FRIF can also be spent on soil and water conservation, road maintenance, and noxious weed control, but for years the County has exclusively used up to $17,000 –matched with an equal amount of general county funds–to pay a federal agency called Wildlife Services to “control” predator animals and rodents, mostly through lethal methods.

April’s resolution would not have affected the county’s contract with Wildlife Services as long as the agency spent half of their budget on non-lethal animal control. However, the agency and their supporters vehemently opposed the resolution and put immense pressure on the commissioners.

Tuesday June 25th, the county commission repealed their April resolution and replaced it with one that imposes modest new reporting requirements on Wildlife Services but essentially continues the status quo establishes modest reporting requirements for the agency.

The resolution passed also contains language that describes the indiscriminate and cruel practice of using leghold traps to capture animals as “effective and humane” despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

Additional Resources: