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Congressmen Request Wildlife Services Probe

Sacramento, Calif. — Two U.S. congressmen are again calling for investigation of a little-known federal agency called Wildlife Services, citing photos of animal abuse posted on the Internet by an agency employee.

“We are gravely concerned that (the) photographs do not represent an isolated occurrence, but may reflect a deep-rooted problem within the Wildlife Services program,” wrote Reps. John Campbell, R-Calif., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., in a Nov. 30 letter to the U.S. Agriculture Department inspector general’s office.

The photos show two dogs attacking a coyote in a leg-hold trap and Wyoming-based agency trapper Jamie Olson posing with the tattered carcass of a coyote. They also show other trapped animals, dead and alive.

The photos, which began to circulate on the Web in late October, led to an agency review which “is still under way, underscoring that USDA takes this matter seriously,” said Wildlife Services spokeswoman Carol Bannerman.

Animal advocates are wary.

“What they address in the letter is absolutely accurate,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, an Oregon nonprofit group. “This is not an isolated incident by any stretch of the imagination.”

“They hope it will all just go away if they ignore it long enough,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, a California group. “But we are not going away and we will do all that we can to ensure that this kind of brutality against wildlife is fully exposed.”

For eight decades, Wildlife Services has specialized in trapping, shooting and poisoning predators for farmers and ranchers. More recently it has expanded into killing and controlling geese, pigeons and other species in urban areas.