So what kind of person are you? The one who says give me the bad news first? Or the one who happily opens all his Christmas presents even though his nervous looking parents say they have something important to talk to you about? What kind of person should I assume you are? Like me, get the hard stuff out of the way so that the easy stuff is easier?
Here’s the hard stuff. It starts with a hard hitting article in this mornings SF Gate and features two familiar faces (but only one of the pretty): Wildlife Services and Camilla Fox.
Brennan, a 55-year-old trapper for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, has killed coyotes, mountain lions, bears, skunks, raccoons, bobcats and, by his own estimate, 400 dogs.
“He represents a kind of mind-set, a culture,” said Camilla Fox, the executive director of Project Coyote, a wildlife advocacy organization that is calling for government support and training in nonlethal methods and techniques for controlling natural predators, and for widespread adoption of programs like one that has succeeded in Marin County for 15 years.
Brennan and his fellow trappers are the target of a nationwide campaign by Project Coyote and other wildlife conservation organizations to stop what they characterize as indiscriminate killing of wildlife by a rogue agency that still lives by the outdated slogan “the only good predator is a dead predator.”
The latest sortie occurred in February when five conservation groups sued the Department of Agriculture for the “wanton killing” of wildlife in Idaho. They want the agency to promote nonlethal methods of control, including guardian dogs, fencing, hazing techniques, night corrals and lambing sheds.
So Camilla Fox and the Coyote Project teamed up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Animal Welfare Institute to sue Mendocino County for renewing their contract with WS without the necessary environmental review. The team already managed to pressure Sonoma away from renewing its contract.
You better believe this kind of work is making an impression on both politicians and a certain population of hunters and trappers who are deeply devoted to making the scrutiny go away. Case in point? When the John Muir Association named Camilla as conservationist of the year, our board was peppered with complaints from a few very difficult men who objected vociferously over and over.
Should WS maintain contracts all over California? Or the country? You can guess my answer. I went through the numbers yesterday and saw where we fall in comparison. California USDA doesn’t kill the most beavers, by any means, but we’re definitely in the top 10.
Now for the good news. Rusty and Robin at Tulocay creek last night were delighted to find TWO kits instead of one. Although they never posed together in the camera frame they were clearly witnessed, and the smaller one generously hung out with mom for a while providing what is possibly among the top five cutest beaver videos I have ever seen. Watch it all the way through. If this doesn’t melt your heart you should see your cardiologist immediately because there’s probably something wrong with it.