Wildlife Services Support Ltr – House of Representatives

February 26, 2016

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Robert Aderholt
Chairman, Subcommittee on Agriculture,
Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration,
and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Sam Farr
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Agriculture
Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United State House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairmen Rogers and Aderholt and Ranking Members Lowey and Farr:

The 204 undersigned organizations represent a broad range of food producers, wildlife organizations, sportsmen, local governments and resource interests that benefit from the cooperative efforts of the USDA-APHIS/Wildlife Services (WS) program. We write in strong support of sufficient funding for the two line items for the WS program (WS Damage Management and WS Methods Development) and in opposition to any effort to restrict or eliminate WS funding.

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. Wildlife damage to U.S. livestock, aquaculture, small grains, fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products has been estimated to reach nearly $1 billion annually. Wildlife predators cause more than $137 million in death loss to livestock; field crop losses due to wildlife total $619 million annually; losses to vegetables, fruits and nuts total $146 million annually; and 70 percent of catfish farmers incur wildlife-related damage resulting in losses of $10 million to $13 million annually from double-crested cormorants in Mississippi alone. As a result, WS is an essential program to U.S. agriculture.

The spread of wildlife-borne diseases to humans, livestock and other wildlife is a growing concern. WS monitors and manages pests and diseases in the United States. WS is often the first line of defense in reducing and eliminating diseases such as the West Nile virus, avian influenza, pandemic H1N1, chronic wasting disease, pseudo rabies, bubonic plague, Hantavirus, Lyme disease, bovine tuberculosis and rabies. In fact, rabies-associated costs range from $300 million to $450 million annually in the United States primarily for pet vaccinations, education, diagnostics, post-exposure treatment and case investigations. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, WS collected 49,391 samples (sampling for 46 separate diseases/conditions) in their efforts to combat and eradicate wildlife disease. WS also prevents entry of and controls invasive species such as feral swine, nutria, the brown tree snake, and the European starling. Feral swine are a subject of increasing concern as potential carriers or catalysts for a variety of diseases. It is estimated that there are more than 6 million feral swine in at least 38 states that cause greater than $1.5 billion in damage annually with more than $800 million of damage to agriculture resources.

In FY2014 alone, WS conducted 66,293 technical assistance projects (an 8.37% increase over FY 2013 figures) to reduce wildlife damage to property in urban, suburban and rural locations across the country, which include homes, schools, industrial facilities, roads, bridges, airports and airport runways, dams and electrical and water systems. One example of this work is WS efforts in reducing deer collisions with automobiles. More than 1.2 million deer-vehicle collisions occur each year, injuring tens of thousands of people and causing more than $4 billion in damage. In addition, WS works to protect wetlands habitat, riparian habitat, tidal marsh and timber from a variety of pest species including feral hogs and nutria, as well as the destruction that beaver can cause. WS expended more than $18.8 million to protect property from wildlife damage in FY2014, up from $16.1 million in 2008.

Protection of natural resources is a growing need for WS. Last year, WS invested resources in conservation of game species including mule deer, bighorn sheep, antelope and waterfowl in eight states. Also in FY2014, WS spent $6.3 million for cooperative work with federal and state agencies to protect and assist 162 threatened or endangered species in 35 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In more than 95 percent of the projects, local threatened and endangered species either increased or remained stable.

More than 140,000 wildlife strikes with civil aviation have been reported since WS began keeping records in 1990. In FY 2015, there were more than 13,650 wildlife collisions with civil aircraft reported, with an additional 6,300 strikes reported by military aviation costing the total aviation industry more than $4.6 billion since 1990. WS provided direct services at 406 airports in FY2015 including population management through harassment, habitat modification or removal. Technical assistance, such as initial consultations and wildlife hazard assessments, was provided at 836 airports across the country. Through the process, WS trained more than 4,400 non-WS personnel at 376 airports to prevent or minimize the impact of wildlife strikes.

As the “Miracle on the Hudson” demonstrated in 2009, the management of wildlife hazards on and near our nation’s airports is a critical safety priority. WS provides valuable support to the aviation community in addressing these hazards. From its assistance in preparing FAA-required wildlife hazard assessments to its help with managing hazardous wildlife populations, WS staff ensure that U.S. airports both meet the regulatory obligations under 14 CFR Part 139 and reduce the safety risks associated with aircraft wildlife strikes. WS also assists the FAA in monitoring national trends regarding wildlife populations and the hazards they pose to aviation. At a time when airports are facing significantly expanded wildlife hazard management requirements through recently issued FAA Advisory Circulars and grant assurance modifications, its role will be even more critical to the aviation community going forward.

It has been WS's cooperative nature that has allowed it to accomplish all of the above listed 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. In FY 2014, WS had more than 3,300 cooperative agreements.WS cooperators include agriculture, forestry, private industry, state wildlife agencies, state departments of health, state departments of agriculture, schools, universities, counties, local governments, Indian nations, homeowner associations, conservation groups and others that, together with WS, mitigate the damage and dangers that public wildlife can inflict.

Chairmen Rogers and Aderholt and Ranking Members Lowey and Farr, we appreciate your demonstrated leadership and strong support of this essential program. Our organizations are committed to working with you to strengthen WS resources and to ensure a continued federal partnership in the responsible management of our nation’s wildlife.

Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l
Airlines for America
Alabama Catfish Producers
Alabama Cattlemen’s Association
Alabama Farmers Federation
Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers
American Association of Airport Executives
American Beekeeping Federation
American Dairy Goat Association
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Goat Federation
American Horse Council
American Sheep Industry Association
American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
American Veterinary Medical Association
Animal Health Institute
Arizona Cattle Feeders Association
Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association
Arizona Cattlemen's Association
Arizona Wool Producers Association
Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association
Arkansas State Sheep Council
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Association of National Grasslands
Association of Oregon Counties
Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Big Game Forever
California Cattlemen's Association
California Farm Bureau Federation
California Wool Growers Association
Catfish Farmers of America
Catfish Institute
Colorado Cattlemen's Association
Colorado Wool Growers Association
Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association, Inc
Delta Council
Eastern Regional Conference of the Council of State Governments
Empire Sheep Producers
Florida Aquaculture Association
Florida Cattlemen’s Association
Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association
Fur Industries of North America
Garden State Sheep Breeders Inc
Georgia Agribusiness Council Inc
Georgia Cattlemen's Association
Georgia Sheep and Wool Growers Association
Hawaii Sheep and Goat Association
Idaho Cattle Association
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
Idaho Outfitters & Guides Association
Idaho Wool Growers Association
Illinois Beef Association
Illinois Lamb and Wool Producers Inc
Independent Beef Association of North Dakota
Independent Cattlemen's Association of Texas
Indiana Sheep Association
Iowa Cattlemen's Association
Iowa Sheep Industry Association
Kansas Livestock Association
Kansas Sheep Association
Kentucky Aquaculture Association
Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association
Kentucky Sheep and Wool Producers Association
Livestock Marketing Association
Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association
Maine Sheep Breeders Association
Maryland Sheep Breeders Association
Massachusetts Federation of Sheep Associations
Meat Sheep Alliance of Florida, Inc
Michigan Sheep Producers Association
Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments
Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producer Association
Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association
Missouri Cattlemen's Association
Missouri Sheep Producers, Inc
Mohair Council of America
Montana Association of State Grazing Districts
Montana Farm Bureau Federation
Montana Public Lands Council
Montana Stockgrowers Association
Montana Wool Growers Association
Mule Deer Foundation
National Aquaculture Association
National Association of Counties
National Association of Federal Veterinarians
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
National Farmers Union
National Lamb Feeders Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Pork Producers Council
National Renderers Association
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Sorghum Producers
National Sunflower Association
National Women Involved in Farm Economics
Nebraska Cattlemen, Inc.
Nebraska Farmers Union

Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers
Nebraska State Grange
Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics
Nevada Cattlemen's Association
Nevada Department of Agriculture
Nevada Farm Bureau Federation
Nevada Rangeland Resources Commission
Nevada State Grazing Board Central Committee
Nevada Wool Growers Association
New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Growers Association
New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association
New Mexico Department of Agriculture
New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau
New Mexico Federal Lands Council
New Mexico Trappers Association
New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc
North American Meat Institute
North Carolina Sheep Producers Association
North Dakota Lamb and Wool Producers Association
North Dakota Stockmen's Association
North Dakota Department of Agriculture
North Dakota Game and Fish Department
Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship
Ohio Cattlemen's Association
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
Ohio Sheep Improvement Association
Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association
Oregon Cattlemen's Association
Oregon Dairy Farmers Association
Oregon Farm Bureau Federation
Oregon Forest Industries Council
Oregon Outdoor Council
Oregon Seed Council
Oregon Sheep Growers Association
Oregon Small Woodlands Association
Oregonians for Food & Shelter
Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Growers Association
Public Lands Council
R-CALF USA
Rhode Island Sheep Cooperative
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Rural and Agriculture Council of America
Safari Club International
Society for Range Management
South Carolina Sheep Industries Association
South Dakota Cattlemen's Association
South Dakota Sheep Growers Association
South East Dairy Farmers Association
Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife Idaho
Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife
State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Association
Striped Bass Growers Association
Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association
Tennessee Sheep Producers Association
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association
Texas Cattle Feeders Association
Texas Farm Bureau
Texas Pork Producers Association
Texas Sheep and Goat Predator Management Board
Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers' Association
Texas Wildlife Damage Management Association
The Council of State Governments – Midwest
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
United Dairymen of Arizona
United States Animal Health Association
U.S. Cattlemen's Association
USA Rice
Utah Department of Agriculture and Food
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Utah Farm Bureau Federation
Utah Foundation for North American Wild Sheep
Utah Wildlife Board
Utah Wool Growers Association
Vermont Sheep and Goat Association
Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
Virginia Cattlemen’s Association
Virginia Sheep Producers Association
Wasco County Livestock Association
Washington Cattlemen's Association
Washington Cattle Feeders Association
Washington Forest Protection Association
Washington State Sheep Producers
West Virginia Cattlemen's Association
West Virginia Farm Bureau
West Virginia Shepherds Federation
Western United Dairymen
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wildlife Management InstituteUtah Cattlemen's Association
Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association
Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation
Wisconsin Firearms Owners, Ranges, Club and Educators
Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative
Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board
Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife
Wyoming Stock Growers Association
Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation
Wyoming Wool Growers Association

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MEMBER: National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) ~~~ United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) ~~~ International Goat Association (IGA)
On the Executive Board of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)

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