California County Puts Killing Contract on Ice After AWI and Allies Sue

In response to legal pressure from AWI and its allies, Mendocino County, California, officials have agreed to suspend the planned renewal of the county’s contract with the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program, pending an environmental review that will include consideration of nonlethal predator control methods. Mendocino County’s contract called for Wildlife Services to kill hundreds of coyotes, as well as bears, bobcats, foxes, and other animals in the county every year, without assessing the ecological damage or considering alternatives—at an annual cost to the taxpayers of $142,356.

The county’s decision came after local citizen Carol Becker and a coalition of animal welfare and environmental groups that included AWI, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, Project Coyote, and the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the county in November 2014 for violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

In April 2015, the parties to the lawsuit signed a settlement agreement, whereby AWI and its allies agreed to drop the suit and the county agreed to 1) hold a public meeting in which Project Coyote’s Camilla Fox will make a presentation to the board of supervisors regarding the advantages of nonlethal alternatives; 2) comply with CEQA prior to any renewal or modification of the county's contract with Wildlife Services; and 3) provide petitioners with monthly updates regarding the status of the CEQA review.

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