US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services becomes multi million-dollar federal wildlife-killing program

"The Department of Agriculture needs to get out of the wildlife-slaughter business."

Image Credit: Pam Bliss

New data recently revealed that the Wildlife Services, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was responsible for the killing of 2.3 million animals in 2017. The agency, reported that of those slaughtered animals, 1.3 million were native wildlife species.

The federal wildlife-killing program targets wolves, coyotes, cougars, birds and various other wildlife that are destructive to the agriculture industry. Last year, the program killed killed 357 gray wolves; 69,041 adult coyotes, plus an unknown number of coyote pups in 393 destroyed dens; 624,845 red-winged blackbirds; 552 black bears; 319 mountain lions; 1,001 bobcats; 675 river otters, including 587 killed “unintentionally”; 3,827 foxes, plus an unknown number of fox pups in 128 dens; and 23,646 beavers, EcoWatch reported.

“The barbaric, outdated tactics Wildlife Services uses to destroy America’s animals need to end,” Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “Wolves, bears and other carnivores help balance the web of life where they live. Our government needs to end its pointless cycle of violence.”

While the program is accountable for the decline of gray wolves, Mexican wolves, black-footed ferrets, black-tailed prairie dogs and other imperiled species” dating back to the early 1900s, it continues to impede their recovery. The programs is also responsible for the killing of thousands of non-target animals including pets and livestock, data reveals. Nearly 3,000 wolves, badgers, bears, bobcats, foxes, muskrats, otters, porcupines, raccoons, turtles, chickadees, bluebirds, cardinals, ducks, eagles, grouse, hawks, herons, swans and owls were unintentionally killed by leg-hold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and other methods used by federal agents, EcoWatch reported.

“The Department of Agriculture needs to get out of the wildlife-slaughter business,” Adkins said. “There’s just no scientific basis for continuing to shoot, poison and strangle more than a million animals every year. Even pets and endangered species are being killed by mistake, as collateral damage.”

And experts believe the multi million-dollar federal program kills even more animals than reported. While the Wildlife Services fail to disclose their expenditures, millions of taxpayers’ money is used annually to “serve private agricultural interests at the expense of life, recreation and public safety,” Michelle Lute, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians, said.

Many animal right’s organizations are working to reform the program and put an end to the Wildlife Services’ War on Wildlife.

“Spending millions of taxpayer dollars each year to kill our native wildlife is fiscally wasteful, scientifically baseless and morally repugnant,” Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians, said. “We call on the program to abandon its kill first approach, adopt science-based decision-making and spend public funds on effective non-lethal coexistence methods.”



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