Sacramento Bee story points to Bishop Fish and Wildlife

Photos - Eastern Sierra Land Trust

Photos – Eastern Sierra Land Trust

A series of stories in the Sacramento Bee last spring revealed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s agency called Wildlife Services had killed millions of animals and had used inhumane methods. One of the articles pointed to the Bishop Fish and Game office, which had hired Wildlife Services to kill mountain lions. We contacted Sacramento Fish and Wildlife for comment.

In April, Sacramento Bee reporter Tom Knudson  wrote a series of stories on Wildlife Services. His articles documented a string of brutal and voluminous killings by that agency of coyotes, birds, black bears, wolves, mountain lions, and other animals deemed predators. Wildlife Services is generally hired by state fish and wildlife departments and private companies.

In one article, Knudson quotes a Bishop Fish and Game biologist as saying efforts to protect bighorn sheep have been “marred by the unnecessary killing” of mountain lions by the USDA’s Wildlife Services.

Knudson reported that he obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act that revealed “for the first time just where Wildlife Services kills animals and birds, intentionally and accidentally, across California. Knudson wrote that in many of those areas there is “conflict and concern.” One of those areas is the Eastern Sierra.

Knudson wrote that two Wildlife Services hunters, working under contract with Bishop Fish and Game, now known as Fish and Wildlife, tracked and shot a female mountain lion with kittens. A Bishop Fish and Wildlife biologist, Becky Pierce, is quoted as saying that the kittens were left to starve. She said in the article, “I’m not saying we don’t sometimes have to remove lions if they are preying on sheep. But everything should be done in a humane manner. And that isn’t humane.”

DFG information officer Andrew Hughan is quoted in the article as saying that the kittens may have survived. The article said Pierce has studied mountain lions for twenty years and disagreed. She was quoted as saying that the kittens were relying on the mother for milk.

Reporter Knudson wrote that in March last year in the Bishop area, “two more mountain lion kittens, just days old, were mauled to death in the Sierra when a Wildlife Services hunter’s dogs raced out of control and pounced on them.” Knudson wrote that the mother lion was then shot.

Inyo-Mono is just one area where Wildlife Services’ methods have come under question. The Sacramento Bee stories say, “Since 2000, Wildlife Services has killed nearly a million coyotes, mostly in the West. They have destroyed millions of birds, from non-native starlings to migratory shorebirds, along with a colorful menagerie of more than 300 other species, including black bears, beavers, porcupines, river otters, mountain lions and wolves.” Knudson said numerous golden eagles and pet dogs have also been killed accidentally by Wildlife Services’ traps and poisons.

Some reports indicate that Bishop Fish and Wildlife may have cancelled a contract with Wildlife Services and ceased mountain lion killings, that an investigation was conducted here, and that personnel issues were raised.

In response to our questions, a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson in Sacramento, Jordan Traverso said, “By law, we cannot discuss personnel matters.” She did acknowledge that there was a Wildlife Services’ contract in Bishop which expired. Officials from the Bishop Fish and Wildlife office consistently refuse to return our calls.

Find the Sacramento Bee story here:

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32 Responses to Sacramento Bee story points to Bishop Fish and Wildlife

  1. Bill January 22, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    With respect, BobK, you would be surprised to learn there are (many) people here in the Eastern Sierra who consider themselves “left leaning” even liberal, but are very much pro-hunting, and pro-gun ownership, much like yourself. Not every liberal is an “anti”.

    These citizens would also agree with what any wildlife biologist would say in regards to predator control. It is needed. Anyone who understands wildlife knows this. Especially when cougars prey on endangered big horn sheep. Or bears become “trouble” bears. Nature will always make more, given they have enough habitat and open space (the real threat to all things wild).

    Stereotypes and broad generalizations about people rarely facilitate the proper dialogue needed to address our real issues and solve problems.

    The problem is that too many people, conservative & liberal, have been too far removed from the natural world and its ecosystem. Many people have no understanding of the complex wildlife web other than the pretty deer eating their neighbors lawn, or the cute black bear cub feeding from the dumpster out front.

    • MD January 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      With respect, Bill, I guess most of us, unlike you, lack an ‘understanding of the complex wildlife web…’ I have observed Wildlife Services’ unregulated dirty work in the Owens Valley. It was gruesome, indiscriminate, and mostly unnecessary… the work of an outdated wildlife killing machine.

    • Tourbillon January 23, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      With respect to Bill, BobK, et al., put down the political coloring books. You don’t have to be a liberal or left-leaner to be skeptical of the reasons that “any wildlife biologist” or any other government bureaucrat gives for going on a Buffalo Bill-style slaughtering spree. Fish & Wildlife personnel may indeed be correct in some of what they do, but some of what they do is patently inexcusable so they must not expect an automatic pass on anything they do. Liberal, conservative, it does not matter, government fecklessness has no oversight except from an inquiring, curious, and skeptical citizenry. I’d expect that people in the Eastern Sierra, of all places, would understand this.

      • Thanks Tourbillon January 23, 2013 at 10:44 am #

        Many thanks, Tourbillon for drawing attention to the political coloring book thing.
        If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard the words left-leaning and liberal (and not in a flattering way) I’d be a rich man. Those code terms are supposed to be the last word(s) on virtually any discussion today. And the redundant political agenda is making everyone quite weary.

        • Big AL January 23, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

          Dr. Facts, I wish I had a Pennie to match your dime for all of the right leaning foaming at the mouth comments you make, LOL .. I’d be ahead of your dime.

    • Don't worry - be happy! January 23, 2013 at 11:09 am #

      Apologies if this does not exactly fit in with the usual Right is better than Left (or vice versa) rhetoric, but if you turn up your speakers, sit back and relax for a few minutes, you may find a peaceful, easy feeling that comes from this Flash Mob performance in Spain (Europe is very big on this sort of method to uplift the community.)
      There is so much America can learn from other countries and their cultures – especially when it has become so divided.


      • erik simpson January 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

        In keeping with the usual small-minded bickering customary here, I have to take issue with the double bass performer’s French bow. Deeply offensive! You have to be careful about what you learn from incorrect traditions. (sillyness off)

        • Uppity Europeans January 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

          You are absolutely right, erik –
          Just who do those artsy-fartsy Europeans think they are anyway- playing inspired classical music for free in a public square and bringing joy and smiles to their citizens during these tough times? It’s anti-capitalistic and anti-American if you ask me. Shame on them!

    • Trouble January 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      Well said Bill. Hope everybody reads your comments a few times.

  2. MJA January 22, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    With this news of all the killing shouldn’t the Fish and Wildlife Dept. be renamed the Wild Death Dept. and then promptly done away with.


  3. Big AL January 21, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    When did the Department of Fish and Game become Fish and wild life?

    • Benett Kessler January 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      It was one of the hundreds of new law that went into effect January 1, 2013.

  4. concerned Mammal January 21, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    No wonder why there are so many rabbits around the sierras.
    They have killed a 1 million Coyotes. Wow!
    There is going to be an infestation of animals in the food chain.

  5. BobK January 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    No, they have not lost all credibility with the people in the Eastern Sierras in regards to predator control. Maybe with some of the left leaning (you notice I did not say the word “liberal”) anti- hunting groups and animal rights groups, but probably not with the majority of the Inyo/Mono public.

    • Freedom of Speech January 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      That’s okay, BobK.
      Today EVERYTHING is politics … EVERYTHING. You cannot escape it.
      “Left-leaning” … “liberal” … “bad guys” … “commies” say whatever name-calling you want to use. This is America.

      Meanwhile, understand why it is that leaders in the Republican party are so desperately trying to separate and distance themselves (if they ever want to win another election) from those who are further Right than Genhis Khan.

      • Benett Kessler January 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

        Dear person of many names, Why not actually comment on our stories instead of continuously spouting your
        political agenda.
        Benett Kessler

        • Freedom of Speech January 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

          Everything is politics, Benett.
          You should know that better than anyone with your tireless attention to “Bureaucrat Beat.”
          I like facts. Some hate facts for some bizarre reason. I guess some just like to fight. Now that’s positive – isn’t it? For instance, on this Martin Luther King Day and Presidential Inauguration Day, what is incredibly enlightening is to switch back and forth between the festivities, happiness, positive joy as CNN covers the Inauguration. Then switch over to Fox News and you will find how “Obama will fail” and “Gun Appreciation Day.” Why not show what is going on outside this blog?
          But I understand you may be attacting the right-wing element who simply wouldn’t understand why any American would be celebrating today.

          • Benett Kessler January 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

            That’s fine to mention the inauguration, but you repeat your political schpiel to the point that it is not responsive to
            anything in particular and becomes tedious.

        • Ken Warner January 22, 2013 at 11:16 am #

          If you required real names, you would eliminate much of the psychotic rambling.

          • Chip Chipperson January 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

            Better start using your real name ‘Ken’

          • Jeremiah's Alter Ego January 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

            I agree, people should own what they say.

          • Trouble January 23, 2013 at 8:25 am #

            Don’t like my ability to be honest Ken? My family would kill me if they only knew.

    • Wayne Deja January 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      Bob K……Predator control ?…give me a break….There they go again…Those stinkin’ “left-leaners” and animal rights groups……trying to take everyone’s guns away..

      • anonymous January 22, 2013 at 6:39 am #

        Wayne Deja,
        isn’t it interesting how the blogmaster does not comment on “left-leaners” as words that are spouting a political agenda?

        • Benett Kessler January 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

          Mr. multi-names, There is no right or left wing agenda here. There certainly seems to be one in your mind,
          which is fine. But your repetitive political comments are redundant.
          Benett Kessler

  6. Bob January 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    “birds and animals”????????

  7. Wayne Deja January 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Had a case like this a few years ago outside of Lone Pine in Diaz Canyon …where some type of “authority” agency decided best to kill off a couple mountain lions….and who can forget the stories concerning killing off the few remaining beavers in the Owens River….claiming their dams are ” slowing down the flow of the water”.

    • Trouble January 22, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

      Wayne- I tried searching for a beaver story here and found nothing.Do remember where you heard that? I asked because I have seen beavers in three locations in the Lower Owens in the last two years.

      • Benett Kessler January 22, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

        I remember the story. LADWP hired someone to kill beavers on the Lower Owens River. As Wayne indicated, the report was that the beavers were
        interfering with the river flow.

        • Trouble January 23, 2013 at 5:56 am #

          Who’s the bigger rodent up here? Beavers or LADWP?

  8. Mammothite January 21, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Their standard response is the kittens or as in the bear cub case in Mammoth, the babies will be fine without mother’s milk.

    If DFG needs to remove animals for a good reason, they should just tell the whole truth to the public about the consequences of the removal. They have lost all credibility here in the Eastern Sierra.

  9. Andrew Kirk January 21, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Great story, Benett. Thank-you. (Shark Fin Soup, anyone?)


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