The Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services agency kills predators like coyotes, wolves, and bears that conflict with livestock raised by ranchers. Sometimes their methods are extremely cruel. Sometimes they kill endangered species. Oversight, when it exists, is hampered by secrecy.
"One morning in the fall of 1980, Rex Shaddox got a call from his supervisor at the Uvalde, Texas, office of Animal Damage Control. Shaddox had worked for Animal Damage Control, which was then a branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for seventeen months. His job was to trap and kill wild carnivores, coyotes in particular, that were said to prey on the flocks of local sheep ranchers.
The supervisor, Charles Brown, told Shaddox to meet with his fellow agents at the city dump outside town. “We’re gonna do some M-44 tests,” Brown said. “With dogs.” The M-44, a spring-loaded device that is planted in the ground and ejects sodium cyanide when set off, was among the weapons used by Animal Damage Control to kill coyotes.
When Shaddox arrived at the dump, he found Brown and several colleagues standing over a pit of stinking garbage. A truck from the Uvalde city pound pulled up. It contained abandoned dogs of various breeds. The pound officer removed a small collie from the truck, and Brown took it by the neck. The animal, docile and quiet, stared at its captors."