Last week, county commissioners voted 2-1 to add county funds to state and federal funding of Wildlife Services (aka predator control). Despite looming budget shortfalls and cuts to other programs and despite county staff assigning the program its lowest priority score, our conservative commissioner, Kellie Hotter, moved to fund this program at double the staffs recommendation $20,000 rather than the recommended $10,000.
With so many people the victims of recession, out of work, consequently finding themselves unable to meet their own basic needs and losing their homes, the taxpayers money would be better spent on other, more needy programs that support the larger community rather than a few private, for-profit businesses.
While Hotters justification that the county needs to support agriculture the county does and will increase its support under the new land-use plan is laudable, Wildlife Services is a program that is highly ineffective and a gross waste of tax revenues.
As a dairy goat rancher on the Dryside, I have had my own challenges with predators. After losing 14 kids, and with some external prompting, I called the local trapper. Three days later, he finally showed, looked around, had me sign one of the 53 contracts entered into with Wildlife Services this year, then left. He finally reappeared a few days and another lost kid later, not the next day I had been promised.
I heard him call the coyote; heard its return call. Relieved, I left for work. Imagine my surprise to be greeted on my return by a yipping coyote in the yard. Apparently our trapper returned once more as evidenced by his tax-funded cell phone lying in the county road.
And for this less-than-stellar performance, he receives around $46,000 yearly.
By now, my fellow ranchers are probably wagging their fingers and yelling epithets of tree hugger and liberal Democrat, all the while having voted the tea party line of reduced government interference and spending. Well, in the future, this liberal Democrat will keep her gun loaded and by the door and will take personal responsibility for the safety of her livestock.
Denise Bohemier, Hesperus