Wild Things examines the US Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services (WS) program and its devastating impacts on native carnivores. Each year, WS kills thousands of predators who are viewed as threats to livestock, employing inhumane methods that are poorly grounded in science—at a substantial cost to taxpayers. This approach to wildlife management is outdated and ineffective, and it interferes with the critical role that native carnivores play in maintaining ecosystem health.
The secretive program has long kept its brutal practices—which include the use of steel-jaw leghold traps, poisons and snares—out of the public eye, evading accountability to the American taxpayers. Wild Things reveals the problems plaguing WS' lethal predator control operations, including adverse impacts on animals, the environment, and public safety. Former WS insiders describe the program’s capitulation to private interests and the mismanagement that has left it plagued with a profound lack of transparency and a culture of cruelty.
Despite these alarming revelations, Wild Things brings hope as it sheds light on emerging alternatives to lethal predator control. The film introduces cattle and sheep producers who have adopted humane practices that allow them to both protect livestock and make peace with native carnivores. Ranchers, scientists, legislators and former WS employees share their perspectives on the value of humane, ecologically sound livestock protection measures and the importance of progress. Wild Things presents a poignant picture of the need for reform within WS and demonstrates that humans, livestock and native predators can—and must—learn to coexist.