Wildlife Services will "voluntarily comply" w/ WA

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Federal Wildlife Services agree to abide by Washington state's anti-trapping initiative

By PAUL QUEARY, The Associated Press.

9/26/01 4:38 AM


OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A federal wildlife control program has agreed to abide by Washington's voter-approved ban on most animal trapping, bowing to pressure from animal-rights groups and the state attorney general.

State lawyers believe the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Division isn't governed by Initiative 713, which outlaws most body-gripping traps and two specific poisons.

"They asked us to voluntarily comply with the initiative and we are doing so," Hallie Pickhardt, an Agriculture Department spokeswoman, said Monday.

The initiative, approved with 55 percent of the vote last year, allows the use of some traps for wildlife control, but only with a specific permit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

But Wildlife Services continued to use the traps and one of the poisons within the state's borders after the initiative took effect on Jan. 1, operating under the superior authority of federal law.

Earlier this month, the Humane Society and Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire asked Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to respect the state initiative.

Wildlife Services uses lethal and nonlethal techniques to protect people, livestock, agriculture and other resources from damaging and deadly wildlife. Its services range from advice on how to deal with wild geese near airports to trapping animals that prey on livestock, Pickhardt said.

Under the new policy, landowners who seek help from Wildlife Services must get a state permit exempting them from Initiative 713. Such permits are issued only if nonlethal methods have proven ineffective. Since Jan. 1, the state has issued 221 special trapping permits, said Lt. Steve Dauma.


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On the Net:

USDA Wildlife Services: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ws/

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: http://www.wa.gov/wdfw/

Humane Society of the United States: http://www.hsus.org
 


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