Hunting > Small Game & Predators

Predator Wars

Meet several men who make a living on the front lines and see where you can slip into the field of predator management this winter.

Just weeks after President Barack Obama was sworn in, 115 environmental groups sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to abolish the U.S. Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services (WS), the segment of the USDA that deals with problem wildlife.

"We ask Mr. Obama to get out his scalpel and protect the public's hard-earned dollars from this unscrupulous agency," said Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of carnivore protection for WildEarth Guardians, an anti-hunting group based in Bozeman, Mont.

The national media shrugged-they didn't understand the attack-but The American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and more than 70 other livestock groups and state agriculture offices in 35 states did. They countered with a letter noting that predators kill more than $125 million worth of livestock annually. They also noted that WS does more than alleviate livestock losses. They save human lives. WS works at every major airport to prevent birds from taking down airplanes. And WS is active in places such as Denver, where cougars and bears are attacking people.

Given all this drama, some journalists should have sniffed a divisive, emotional story; yet outside a few rants from left-leaning "environmental reporters" who urged the government to terminate WS, the ideological battle wasn't widely reported.

Despite this unfortunate oversight, as an American hunter thrust in the throes of this debate, you understand hunting is a tool utilized by game managers to control wildlife populations. But, given the media's bias, perhaps you don't know the extent of the battle to control predator populations for the sake of ranchers, the public and the environment.

Incredibly, conflicts with wildlife are happening in places like Amherst, Mass., where a child was attacked by a coyote in 2008, and in suburban Los Angeles, where hundreds of coyote attacks on humans have been documented; and they're occurring everywhere ranchers have livestock. Wildlife-human conflicts happen on public lands where biologists are struggling to save endangered species from nonnative predators and are occurring at every U.S. airport as WS' hunters/trappers help The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) curb the estimated $600 million in damage from bird strikes to American aircraft annually. In fact, as environmentalists postulate that WS' hunters should be sacked, WS' professionals trap coyotes at Denver International Airport, shoot deer at Chicago O'Hare and kill geese at New York's La Guardia International Airport to prevent birds from putting another plane in the Hudson River.

This is where you come in. Predator control is a thrilling chase of predator vs. predator that calls on supple hunting skills, and active, even aggressive, strategies. Even cooler, it begs you to use gear like long-range rifles and optics, ghillie suits and decoys and so much more high-tech paraphernalia as you help ranchers and sometimes struggling wildlife populations.
So come along and meet some men who make a living on the front lines and see where you can slip into the field of predator management this winter.

Read more in Meet The World Champs and Meet The Cougar Men.

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1 Response to Predator Wars

Jason wrote:
October 10, 2012

I'm sold. How does one get into predator control in a way that aligns with WS' objectives?