Unlike most federal programs, Wildlife Services requires private sector matching funds on a one-to-one basis. It is an efficient and effective program that protects human safety by managing wildlife. Why then, would we cut funding for this program?
There is an amendment to H.R. 2112, the Agriculture Appropriations bill, which would cut $11 million in funding from Wildlife Services and seriously hinder our ability to manage wildlife.
Proponents of this amendment would have you believe that this funding cut would only affect predator management and would not seriously hinder Wildlife Services’ ability to protect human health. This is not true. Any loss of funding would directly impact all Wildlife Services’ activities.
These activities are of vital importance to public safety.
If you own a pet, you benefit from Wildlife Services. They reduce rabies in wildlife populations, which helps prevent the spread of the disease to domestic animals and humans.
Every time you get in your car, you benefit from Wildlife Services. They work to reduce automobile collisions with deer, which injure an average of 29 thousand people each year, and cause $1 billion in damages.
Every time you fly on a plane, you benefit from Wildlife Services. They have people working in all 50 states to prevent dangerous aircraft collisions with birds.
The largest portion of Wildlife Services’ budget—43 percent—is spent on protecting human health and safety. Often, Wildlife Services is the first line of defense against health risks including West Nile virus, avian flu, and Lyme disease. They prevent disease exposure to humans, livestock, and other wildlife.
Moreover, predator management—the activity targeted by this amendment—is critical to America’s farmers and ranchers. Wildlife causes $126 million in livestock losses for producers. Field crop losses total $619 million. Specialty crop losses are $146 million. All told, wildlife causes $12.8 billion in damage each year to natural resources, public infrastructure, private property, and agriculture.
Without the predator management done by Wildlife Services, losses would explode, driving family farms and ranches out of business.
Cutting funding for Wildlife Services could be both costly and dangerous. Doing so also ignores the proven science behind Wildlife Services’ work, as well as their commitment to minimizing wildlife mortality.
This amendment is not scientifically sound, and it is certainly not economically sound. I urge my colleagues to oppose it and to continue funding Wildlife Services’ efforts to protect human and animal health.