Government trapper let dogs attack live coyotes caught in leg traps

Leaked documents reveal cover-up of animal abuse investigation in USDA's Wildlife Services agency, withholding of information from public and Congress

Fritz on leash

Dog is set on trapped coyote. Click
on photo to view more of Olson's

In November 2012 we made the painful discovery of a USDA Wildlife Services trapper named Jamie Olson, who allegedly set his dogs loose on live coyotes already caught in traps. He posted graphic photos of his activities on his Facebook and Twitter accounts (now disabled), along with other apparent acts of animal cruelty he committed. 

Olson's actions sparked public outrage and media coverage, but he is still employed by Wildlife Services in the state of Wyoming and has organized predator killing contests in many western states.

In June 2013 we learned that—despite Congressmen Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and John Campbell (R-CA) having made a specific request for the results of the investigation into allegations of animal cruelty in November 2012—officials at Wildlife Services withheld their "final" December 2012 Report of Investigation on the Olson case from the public and Congress. In fact, they told the Congressmen that the report did not exist. But leaked internal documents showed otherwise. Here was the sequence of events:

View Leaked Documents from within USDA Wildlife Services

Internal documents leaked to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee show that Wildlife Services said they completed their investigation in December 2012 and that it exonerated Olson. But subsequently wildlife officials started asking internal questions about the case, mentioning findings that directly conflicted with their "final" report. They found that Olson had violated internal guidelines: he did let his dog attack trapped coyotes and he was not checking his traps as required.

Here are key documents leaked from within USDA Wildlife Services:

  • Page 4 of the Report of Investigation indicates supervisors had no problems re Olson's trap-checking record. Yet Deputy Clay, in his December 20, 2012 email refers to M-44 traps that had not been checked for up to 69 days, as well as three other occasions in two years where Olson's traps were not checked as required.

On June 17, 2013 a Wildlife Services spokesperson said their investigation of the Olson case was ongoing, but as of April 2015 they have yet to produce any documents or reports confirming this statement.

Read more about this case, Wildlife Services' barbaric methods of lethal predator control, and our work to get Congressional oversight hearings and agency reform below.

Media Coverage of this Case

Media Coverage of Wildlife Services

For years we've been the driving force behind a nationwide push for a Congressional investigation and oversight hearings on Wildlife Services. We've also been working with Tom Knudson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from the Sacramento Bee, on an exposé on USDA Wildlife Services' out-of-control "predator control" program. The Bee came through with an impressive, in-depth piece of investigative journalism indicting this brutal government program, along with a number of insightful editorials and features.

What is Wildlife Services?

USDA Wildlife Services (Wildlife Services) is an agency that operates under the radar of most people, including politicians. The name functions as a smoke screen for the agency's actual role and function. Wildlife Services does not provide services for wildlife, instead it serves those with an interest in killing animals by trapping, poisoning, bludgeoning, shooting, and denning (killing pups in their natal dens, often using a fumigant or gasoline and setting them on fire). Read more about the USDA's War on Wildlife

Wildlife Services spends approximately $126 million tax dollars each year killing wildlife—largely at the behest of special interests such as livestock and hunting organizations—including over 115,000 predators (FY 2010), such as coyotes, wolves, cougars bears, and bobcats, just to name a few. Nationally, Wildlife Services reports killing approximately 500 dogs and 1,325 cats in 2010, but claims these animals are unowned and feral. Predator Defense believes the number of pets killed by Wildlife Services is grossly under-reported. See USDA War on Wildlife Kill Data

Former Wildlife Services trappers have told Predator Defense that when they trap a dog and are certain no one witnessed it, they routinely remove the dog’s collar and dispose of the body where no one will discover it. It is likely that hundreds, if not thousands, of pet dogs and cats presumed missing by their owners are in fact killed by Wildlife Services traps, snares, and poisons— especially in the American west.

Our Work to Reform Wildlife Services

We work 365 days a year to expose and eliminate the USDA Wildlife Services lethal predator control program. It not only wastes millions of taxpayer dollars, but also harms the environment by removing predators that are critical to a healthy ecosystem. Wildlife Services' methods are brutal and barbaric, and pose a threat to endangered species, pets, and humans. Read OSU Ripple research and The Importance of Predators

We've been working with two U.S. Representatives—Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and John Campbell (R-California)—for Congressional oversight hearings and reform of Wildlife Services. These Congressmen requested just that, citing the program's waste of federal dollars, harm to ecosystems, and secrecy regarding practices and spending. Read letter to Committee Chair, Darrell Issa

How You Can Help

Together we can put an end to your tax dollars being used to torture wild animals. Here are four things you can do:

1. Join us as we redouble our efforts to ask for Congressional oversight hearings. Call or write both the chair of the committee involved, Republican Representative Darrell Issa (CA-49), and the ranking committee member, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings (MD-07), and urge them for oversight hearings:

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
(202) 225-5074 voice
(202) 225-3974 FAX

2. Contact your federal elected officials (senators and representatives) . Urge them to call for reform and/or defunding of Wildlife Services and ask them to support DeFazio and Campbell's efforts to hold oversight hearings (see item #1 above)

3. Contact your favorite news show or your local media. Give them a link to this webpage and ask them to do an investigative exposé on this case and the USDA's barbaric, wasteful and indiscriminate Wildlife Services program.

4. Support our work. We are a grassroots organization funded almost entirely by member contributions. If you can help us spread the word by making a financial contribution, please donate today. Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated.