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Jack Berryman, chief of the Government's Wildlife Services:
We're not thrilled at being the defenders for poison. We use only the most selective, effective and humane toxicants with the least impact on the environment and nontarget species. It is hard to find a graceful way of killing an animal. No matter how you do it, it is dead.
Animals will be doing damage, and the public wants the heritage of animals. The goal for the future will be more sophisticated methods that can be applied more discreetly. Sophistication costs more money and requires more supervision. Landowners are an independent lot. If what they want done isn't done, they'll do it themselves. They can throw the bait around where nontarget animals also will be killed.
Facts show that Wildlife Services is not decimating the wildlife population. We have not brought to the verge of extinction any target animals, let alone any of the others. None of the poisons we use move through the food chain or pose any threat to humans. We use such small amounts they're just not in the food chain. Some of the poisons have been in use for 50 years, others for 25 years. There has been no environmental accumulation of any significance.
This program was once based on amount of kill. It was a case of "how many did you get." With that kind of background, it was a difficult adjustment, but we have turned the whole thing around. There have been large gains, and the program has been redirected. It's a whole new approach. Some legislation has been attempting to halt the Government program, and if this legislation is passed, all our gains and efforts will be lost.
Critics will actually help bring about needed action. We appreciate the roles played by both extremist groups. They push both ways and help develop better programs inside the two ends they represent.
Many different collections of people and task forces have looked into the facts. The truth is there would be more criticism if the Government ducked this business rather than tackled it. The Wildlife Services' program is like a plane flight. No news unless it crashes. The program is no news, unless there's a violation of guidelines.
It is the responsibility of the Government to make some unpopular decisions. It takes more courage to stay with the program than to abandon it. And one last point. I would not like to leave the impression that the job is being done 100%. There's a lot to do and not everyone is trying to do it.
Edwin Marsh, executive secretary, National Wool Growers Assn.:
If the predator-poisoning program is not made more adequate, the sheep industry will be forced out of business. Predators—especially coyotes, the prime sheep killers—are increasing. The program will have to be intensified and continued until such time that we can develop—through research—other control methods. Careful research in Utah has produced calculations that $3,538,846 are lost annually by the range sheep industry to predators. This loss is equal or surpassed in many states. We are doing extensive research at present, hoping to find more humane control methods. One possibility is a repellent on sheep that would discourage predators. Poisoning may be a painful death for predators. But the death suffered by sheep at the mercy of predators is not exactly pretty. Allegations that the poisoning program is harming the environment are vastly exaggerated. I do not think that the balance of nature is being destroyed by the poisoning program. Survival of the wool industry is at stake. The present poisoning program is inadequate to control degradations in sheep areas. We are not interested in control work where there are no sheep. The fact that degradation of sheep by the coyote population is increasing dangerously is indication enough that the present poisoning program is inadequate. We know the program has many enemies, but we will certainly fight to maintain—and increase—it. We have to, if we expect the range sheep industry to survive.