The American Sheep Industry Association spearheaded a letter supporting sufficient funding for the critical programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services (WS). The letter, delivered to leaders of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, boasted signatures from 153 organizations representing a broad range of food producers, wildlife organizations, sportsmen, local governments and resource interests.
"The letter is a powerful and unified message to Congress on the importance of USDA WS," stated Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. "An incredible cross section and share of America's food production is represented in this letter, a fact not lost on federal policy makers particularly when combined with the strong support of sportsmen, wildlife groups and state and county government."
Wildlife causes more than $12.8 billion in damage each year to natural resources, public infrastructures, private property and agriculture. WS works to prevent, minimize or manage this damage and to protect human health and safety from conflicts with wildlife.
It has been WS cooperative nature that has allowed it to accomplish many of its programs and has made it the most cost-effective and efficient program in the federal government in the areas of wildlife damage management and public health and safety. WS cooperators include agriculture, forestry, private industry, state wildlife agencies, state departments of health, state departments of agriculture, schools, universities, counties, local government, Indian nations, homeowner associations, conservation groups and others that, together with WS, mitigate the damage and dangers that public wildlife can inflict.
The letter to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives also recognized their vote in June 2011, which overwhelmingly rejected a move supported by animal rights organizations to drastically slash program funding to WS.
The organizations are committed to working to strengthen WS' resources and to ensure a continued federal partnership in the responsible management of our nation's wildlife.
The letter in its entirety is available at www.sheepusa.org.