On Thursday July 19, Grant County residents asked their commissioners to cancel the county’s contract with Wildlife Services, a rogue federal agency that kills millions of native wild animals each year at the behest of private industry and wealthy individuals. More than 70 people submitted letters and 22 stated their opposition at the meeting to continuing the contract. None spoke in favor of continuing the contract. Despite the overwhelming public opposition, only Commissioners Browne and Edwards listened to and reflected the will of their constituents. Commissioners Ramos, Kasten, and Billings voted to renew the contract with Wildlife Services and continue endangering the public with traps, poisons and snares.

Commissioner Billings condescendingly dismissed constituents’ legitimate, fact-based concerns about the danger of indiscriminate traps, snares, and poisons on public lands. Based on Wildlife Services’ own reporting, they have killed 338 animals “accidentally,” including 43 dogs, with M-44 (sodium cyanide) bombs in New Mexico since 2010. According to their reports, they are using M-44 bombs here in Grant County, along with indiscriminate leghold traps, foot snares, and aerial gunning. Commissioner Billings dismissed these facts, evidence-based commentary, and numerous scientific references presented by scientists and advocates for safer public lands in favor of Wildlife Services’ unsubstantiated claims and obsolete science.

As a fairly new resident of Grant County, I was appalled to see Commissioners Ramos, Kasten, and Billings discard science and fail to uphold their democratic duties to represent the public whom they serve. Instead, they chose to support a special minority interest that doesn't realize that Wildlife Services’ activities do not protect livestock nor prevent depredation. I have a Master of Science in Biology, an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Management, and run a nonprofit that helps people co-exist with snakes, so I am very familiar with best practices and science of managing unwanted wildlife. Lethal wildlife management is ineffective, expensive, and not supported by the latest science. By failing to adopt non-lethal techniques, we missed an opportunity to save 50% of current contract costs and reduce cattle loss while making public lands safer for our families and companion animals.

Melissa Amarello, MS

Silver City NM
Resident, Grant County District 4
Conservation Biologist, Director of Education
Advocates for Snake Preservation