FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 12, 2007

Brian Vincent, Big Wildlife, 604/618-1030,

Wildlife Advocates Urge State Attorney General to Halt “Grisly, Barbaric” Practice

Today, Big Wildlife, an international wildlife conservation organization, urged Oklahoma Attorney General W.A. Drew Edmondson to immediately halt the illegal and inhumane killing of coyotes in the state. In a letter to the Attorney General, the wildlife group said it had discovered the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services had been “employing lethal control methods that clearly violate federal and state animal cruelty statutes” to manage coyotes in Oklahoma. While reviewing 2006 data published by Wildlife Services, Big Wildlife learned federal agents had listed the use of “hand tools” as a means to kill coyotes in Oklahoma and Wyoming. When Big Wildlife investigated the matter further, it found Wildlife Services employees were using shovels to behead coyote pups or to crush the animals’ skulls.

“It is beyond comprehension that a federal agency is using taxpayer dollars to behead coyote pups with shovels. Americans will be outraged to learn their hard earned money is being used for such a grisly and barbaric practice” said Brian Vincent, Communications Director with Big Wildlife.

Every year, Wildlife Services kills millions of animals such as wolves, cougars, coyotes, bears, and birds through a variety of means including poisoning, gunning from airplanes and helicopters, hounding, baiting, and the use of steel jaw traps and leg and neck snares. The agency publishes an annual report, Animals Taken by Component Type and Fate by the Wildlife Services Program, that details the various methods it employs to kill wildlife. On page 47 of its 2006 report, the federal agency, which is housed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, notes it intentionally killed coyotes with “hand tools” in Oklahoma and Wyoming. (To review the report go to:,%20FY2006.pdf)

On September 11, Mr. Vincent spoke with a Wildlife Services’ official to request additional information about the use of “hand tools” for killing coyotes in the state. The agency spokesman told Mr. Vincent Wildlife Services "digs out coyote pups from their den and then uses shovels to perform 'cervical dislocation'" on the pups or to “crush their skulls.” Cervical dislocation is a procedure used to decapitate an animal. The Wildlife Services official defended the practice, saying the procedure is approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). But the AVMA euthanasia guidelines do not support the use of shovels to perform cervical dislocation on coyotes. According to the American Association of Zoo Veternarians, the AVMA guidelines clearly state that prior to employing cervical dislocation the animal must be anesthetized. Furthermore, the AVMA guidelines apply to the use of cervical dislocation to “euthanatize poultry, other small birds, mice, and immature rats and rabbits.”