Non-native species extermination bill clears U.S. House unopposed

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2007:

WASHINGTON, D.C.–HR 767, possibly the
most sweeping feral animal extermination mandate
ever put before Congress, unanimously cleared
the U.S. House of Representatives on October 23,
2007, completely eluding any visible notice from
national humane organizations.
No national humane organization issued a
legislative alert about HR 767. No national
humane organization even mentioned it in online
lists of animal-related bills under
consideration–not even Alley Cat Allies, whose
concerns are most directly targeted.
Introduced by Representative Ron Kind
(D-Wisconsin), HR 767 is officially titled the
Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, and
Immediate Response Act, or REPAIR Act.
Informally, it is called the Kind Act, but the
closest approach to kind language in it is a
passage requiring that funded extermination
programs must minimize “adverse impacts to the
structure and function of national wildlife
refuge ecosystems and adverse effects on
nontarget species.”
No restrictions are placed on the species
that may be targeted or the methods that may be
used to kill them.
An October 22 press release from Kind’s
office promoting HR 767 mentioned only purple
loosestrife, black locust, and zebra mussels as
examples of invasive species, but the bill
appears to have originated chiefly out of birder
antipathy toward feral cats.
“In response to the exploding threat that
invasive species pose to the health and abundance
of many birds,” said publicist Steve Holmer of
the American Bird Conservancy, an organization
built on fierce opposition to neuter/return feral
cat control, “Kind championed legislation which
provides grants to states to identify harmful
non-native species and establish priorities for
preserving native birds, fish, other wildlife,
and their habitats. The REPAIR Act now moves to
the Senate, where ABC hopes to see quick
A native of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Kind
still has one of his two constituency offices in
LaCrosse–the same city where birder Mark Smith
in 2005 organized a campaign to authorize hunters
to shoot feral cats.

“I look at feral cats as an invasive
species, plain and simple,” Smith told
Associated Press.
The 12,031 attendees at the annual
state-wide caucuses of the Wisconsin Conservation
Congress voted 57% to 43% in favor of the
proposal, which was endorsed by most of the
major pro-hunting organizations in the state.
Governor Jim Doyle bucked hunter opinion in
making clear the next day that he would veto an
actual bill to allow cat shooting.
Kind is described in his campaign
biography as “an avid outdoor recreation
enthusiast, hunter and fisherman,” who “loves
to duck hunt on the Mississippi River, and hunt
turkey and deer up on the family [beef] farm with
the boys.” Kind is a member of the Congressional
Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Birders nationwide, especially in
Wisconsin, have been inflamed against cats since
1996 by excessive projections of cat predation on
birds promoted by University of Wisconsin at
Madison wildlife biology professor Stanley A.
Temple. Temple argues that cats kill from 7.8 to
100 million birds per year in Wisconsin alone,
with 39 million a “reasonable estimate.”
About 7.8 million is actually the upper
end of likelihood, based on the preponderance of
data from other sources.
Credible estimates of bird predation by
cats nationwide range from 100 million per year,
projected in 2003 by U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Migratory Bird Management Office
biologist Al Manville, to 134 million per year,
projected in 2000 by Carol Fiore of the Wichita
State University Department of Biological
The Congressional Research Service,
operated by the Library of Congress, notes that
HR 767 “Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior
to provide (1) a grant to any eligible applicant
to carry out a qualified control project to
control harmful nonnative species; and (2) a
grant to any state to carry out an assessment
project to identify harmful nonnative species,
assess the needs to restore, manage, or enhance
native fish, wildlife and habitats, identify
priorities, and identify mechanisms to increase
capacity building for native fish, wildlife, and
HR 767 also “Directs the Secretary to
establish a Cooperative Volunteer Invasives
Monitoring and Control Program to document and
combat invasive species in national wildlife
refuges,” according to the Congressional
Research Service.
In plain English, this means HR 767
allows the federal government to enlist birders
to spot non-native animals and plants, and
dispatch recreational hunters, trappers, and
fishers to kill them. This is consistent with an
August 17, 2007 executive order in which U.S.
President George W. Bush directed “Federal
agencies…including the Department of the
Interior and the Department of Agriculture”, to
“Manage wildlife and wildlife habitats on public
lands in a manner that expands and enhances
hunting opportunities, including through the use
of hunting in wildlife management planning.”
HR 767 also stipulates that “The Congress
findsÅ Harmful nonnative species are the leading
cause of habitat destruction in national wildlife
refuges,” a highly debatable claim in view of
the impacts of global warming, water and air
pollution, and food chain build-ups of toxic
substances, including lead from hunters’
ammunition as one of the deadliest to aquatic
Other “findings” ratified by HR 767 are
that “More than 675 known harmful nonnative
species are found in the National Wildlife Refuge
System,” none actually named in the bill, and
that “Nearly eight million acres of the National
Wildlife Refuge System contain harmful nonnative
A further “finding” is that, “The cost
of the backlog of harmful nonnative species
control projects that need to be carried out in
the National Wildlife Refuge System is over
$361,000,000, and the failure to carry out such
projects threatens the ability of the System to
fulfill its basic mission.”
According to HR 767, “The term `harmful
nonnative species’ means, with respect to a
particular ecosystem in a particular region, any
species, including its seeds, eggs, spores, or
other biological material capable of propagating
that species, that is not native to that
ecosystem and has a demonstrable or potentially
demonstrable negative environmental or economic
impact in that region.”
HR 767 provides that “The Federal share
of the incremental additional cost of including
in a control project any pilot testing or a
demonstration of an innovative technology” to
exterminate non-native species “shall be 85%Å The
Federal share of the cost of the portion of a
control project funded with a grant under this
section that is carried out on national wildlife
refuge lands or waters, including the cost of
acquisition by the Federal Govern-ment of lands
or waters for use for such a project, shall be
A simple translation is that if killing
feral animals who enter a National Wildlife
Refuge from private property requires buying the
property, the feds will pay for it.
National Wildlife Refuge System chief
Geoff Haskett testified at a June 21, 2007
hearing on HR 767 that “In 2006, over two
million acres of refuge lands were infested with
invasive plants. About 14% of these acres have
been treated thus far. In addition,” Haskett
said, “there are 4,471 invasive animal
populations recorded on refuge lands.
“In 2008,” Haskett added, “the refuge
system budget allocates $8.7 million to treat
over 255,000 acres infested with invasive plants,
and control infestations on 100,000 acres. The
system will control 245 invasive animal

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