Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee received the Schweitzer Medal on June 27 at a private celebration in California. For nearly 60 years, the medal—named in honor of Dr. Albert Schweitzer—has been a symbol of outstanding achievement in the advancement of animal welfare. AWI’s board of directors unanimously chose to recognize Mr. Knudson for his excellent investigative journalism and commitment to both thorough research and candor in his series of articles on the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (WS) program.
Mr. Knudson has been a leader in shedding light on WS’ cruel and nonselective practices. His in-depth series on the program, published in the Bee in 2012, exposed the federal government’s ongoing, taxpayer-funded wildlife killing practices and their devastating impacts on animal welfare and the environment, and examined opportunities for reform.
As Mr. Knudson’s articles reveal, WS kills approximately 5 million animals each year in the name of “managing problems caused by wildlife.” It operates with notoriously little transparency, and Mr. Knudson’s investigation “found the agency's practices to be indiscriminate, at odds with science, inhumane and sometimes illegal.” The program has largely ignored effective, nonlethal wildlife management options, with serious consequences for animals, ecosystems, and public safety.
By drawing attention to the myriad problems plaguing WS, Mr. Knudson has raised awareness of the urgent need for a new direction. AWI applauds him for bringing these critical issues into the public eye through his exceptional reporting and is proud to honor him with the Schweitzer Medal.