WildEarth Guardians

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Challenging the Federal Government’s Wildlife-Killing Program in New Mexico

WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Dept. of Agric. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS Wildlife Services”), et. al.
Won, Settlement Victory
Case No.
Case 1:20-cv-01031
Date Filed
October 8, 2020
State, Venue
New Mexico, Federal District Court of New Mexico
Jennifer R. Schwartz (lead), Samantha Ruscavage-Barz
In a major win for New Mexico’s wildlife, WildEarth Guardians settled its lawsuit against USDA’s Wildlife Services (“Wildlife Services”), after the federal program agreed to severely curtail its reckless slaughter of native wildlife and use of cruel tools such as snares, traps, and poisons. The settlement requires that these protections remain in place pending the program’s completion of a detailed and public environmental review of its work.

Here’s the highlights:

  • No wildlife killing/damage control in any of the following specially protected areas:Wilderness Areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs), Wild & Scenic River corridors, National Park Service Lands, National Wildlife Refuges, National Monuments, and several Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs);
  • No killing cougars, black bears, and foxes on any federal lands;
  • No more M-44s (sodium cyanide bombs) on all public lands (federal, state, county, and municipal lands);
  • No more Compound 1080 or gas cartridges to kill denning wildlife like coyotes, fox, and prairie dogs on all federal lands; and no DRC-1339 (avicide) statewide;
  • No more of the super heinous “Quick-kill Body-grip Traps” or other Conibear-style traps;
  • No more using foot snares for targeting coyotes;
  • No more foot-hold traps without offset or padded jaws so nontarget species don’t get killed by these devices;
  • To discontinue lethal removal of beavers on all public and private lands in the State of New Mexico and to evaluate its obligations under NEPA, if it chooses to resume the lethal removal of beavers in New Mexico in the future;
  • Increased public transparency:  APHIS-Wildlife Services’ must make publicly available on its state-specific website all the key details of its wildlife damage control work in New Mexico (e.g. detailed accounts of species/land class/reason for control measures, and any nonlethal efforts). Previously, much of this information was only available through formal Freedom of Information Act requests, which typically take several months, if not years, for USDA to fulfill.