Yes, you read that correctly. Here's an explanation:
Back in November, Matthew Frank reported on a Wyoming coyote trapper (and federal wildlife specialist with Wildlife Services) who posted graphic images of his dogs tormenting a coyote caught in a steel-jaw leg-hold trap. That story, as well as additional reporting by the Sacramento Bee, led to outrage among wildlife advocates and a formal federal investigation of the trapper, Jamie Olson. The investigation ultimately determined Olson did nothing wrong.
The nonprofit group Project Coyote created a Change.org petition calling for Olson's firing. That petition generated more than 60,000 signatures — and the attention, apparently, of the Department of Homeland Security.
Will Potter, a Washington, D.C.,-based journalist and author of Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, reports today that DHS "distributed a counter-terrorism bulletin to law enforcement" warning about the petition. Potter writes:
The bulletin doesn’t warn of any impeding violence or terrorist attacks. It begins: “A petition has been added to the Change.org website…” It goes on to say that “outrage has been expressed” as a result of the petition.
The bulletin points to a petition by the non-profit group Project Coyote, titled “Fire USDA Wildlife Services Federal Trapper Jamie Olson for Animal Cruelty.”
The Homeland Security bulletin warns that “the attention this petition has received may bring the attention of the more extreme animal rights activists to Wyoming.” It cites no threats, property destruction, violence, or any other crime.
The bulletin bluntly says that “animal rights activists already have a negative opinion of the USDA Wildlife Services.”
We're not entirely sure what to make of all this, except that DHS appears more concerned with the response to alleged animal torture rather than the alleged torture itself. That negative opinion held by animal rights activists? It's about to extend beyond just Wildlife Services.