Lawsuit Challenges Monterey County's Contract with Federal Wildlife-Killing Program

Wildlife Services’ Indiscriminate Trapping Endangers Family Pets

Photo by Warren LynnSALINAS, CA—Animal protection and conservation organizations filed a lawsuit today challenging Monterey County’s contract renewal with the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services – a notorious federal wildlife-killing program that has killed more than 3,000 coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and other animals in the county in the past six years.

Nationwide, Wildlife Services killed more than 2.7 million animals in 2014, the last year for which data is available. The agency’s use of poison and traps has also injured people and killed more than 1,100 dogs – since 2000.

Today’s lawsuit notes that Monterey County’s renewal of the contract violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because the county failed to analyze the environmental impacts of its agreement and wrongfully claimed an exemption from CEQA. Also, the county held no public hearings about a CEQA exemption claim, and has not disclosed the details of its agreement with Wildlife Services.

A Monterey County resident joined with Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Project Coyoteand the Mountain Lion Foundation to file today’s lawsuit.

Monterey County’s previous contract authorized Wildlife Services to kill hundreds of coyotes, as well as bobcats, mountain lions and other animals every year without fully assessing the ecological damage or considering alternatives. Over the past five years, Wildlife Services has killed 3,563 animals in Monterey County using traps, snares and firearms. From June 2014 to June 2015 alone, Wildlife Services killed 105 coyotes, three mountain lions and two bobcats.

Peer-reviewed research shows that such reckless slaughter of animals—particularly predators—results in broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity. The program’s controversial and indiscriminate killing methods have come under increased scrutiny from scientists, the public and government officials. In addition, the program has been responsible for the deaths of many threatened and endangered species, as well as family pets.

“I am deeply concerned by Wildlife Services’ reckless use of traps and other cruel methods to kill native wildlife in our communities,” said Monterey County resident Molly Attell. “The public clearly has a right to understand and comment on a plan that involves using lethal methods to kill hundreds of animals in our county. We need to understand the risks to wildlife, as well as to people and pets.”

 “Building on our recent success in requiring Mendocino County to comply with CEQA before hiring Wildlife Services, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and our allies will continue to push for compliance and wildlife protection in Monterey County,” says Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “California deserves more from their elected officials.”

“Wildlife Services’ lethal predator control program is ecologically destructive, ethically indefensible and economically unjustifiable,” says Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “We hope that this action propels Monterey County to explore non-lethal options to reduce conflicts with native wildlife as other counties like Marin have done and we stand poised to help in this direction.”

“Californians should be aware that their tax dollars are funding this harmful wildlife-killing program,” says Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope our lawsuit spurs Monterey County to realize that people value wildlife and this business-as-usual killing is no longer acceptable.”


Media Contacts:
Amey Owen,, 202-446-2128

About the Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit

About the Animal Welfare Institute
The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information, visit

About the Center for Biological Diversity
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places:

About Project Coyote
Project Coyote, a national non-profit organization headquartered in Northern California, is a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy.For more information, visit  

About the Natural Resources Defense Council
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.organd follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

About Mountain Lion Foundation
For 30 years, the Mountain Lion Foundation has worked with member volunteers and activists to further wildlife policies that seek to protect mountain lions, people and domestic animals without resorting to lethal measures. For more information, visit

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