Agriculture Department Killed 1.3 Million Native Animals in 2017
Ignoring calls for reform and using your taxpayer dollars, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency with the misleading name of Wildlife Services, killed more than 1.3 million native animals during 2017, according to new data that the agency released last week.
Available numbers are based upon the nationwide activities of Wildlife Services. It was only recently that journalists in Sacramento were able to obtain some agency records about statistics in California through the Freedom of Information Act.
The multi-million-dollar federal wildlife-killing program targets bobcats, birds, coyotes, cougars, wolves and other wild animals for destruction – primarily to benefit the agriculture industry – but funded by you, the taxpayer. At the request of agricultural corporations and the hunting lobby, the Wildlife Services agency kills wild animals with gas, poisons, snares and aerial gunning.
Valid protection of livestock is a justifiable concern, but animals are killed for eating flowers and pet food that is left outside, digging in gardens and frightening people, as well as for other circumstances that can be remedied by nonviolent approaches.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), of the 2.3 million animals killed in total last year, more than 1.3 million were native wildlife species.
“The Department of Agriculture needs to get out of the wildlife-slaughter business,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney at CBD. “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.”
According to the latest report, the federal program last year killed 415 wolves; 76,859 adult coyotes, plus an unknown number of coyote pups in 393 destroyed dens; 624,845 red-winged blackbirds; 552 black bears; 332 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.
The program also abolished 15,933 prairie dogs outright, as well as an unknown number in more than 38,452 burrows that were demolished or fumigated. These figures almost certainly underestimate the actual number of animals exterminated, as program insiders have revealed that Wildlife Services kills many more animals than it reports.
Many program insiders are former employees of Wildlife Services, who agree with scientists that it is expensive and ineffective. Additionally, such killings create a chain reaction of harmful environmental damage that is unintended and seriously detrimental to ecosystems.
According to the new data, the wildlife-killing program unintentionally put to death nearly 3,000 animals last year, including wolves, badgers, bears, bobcats, foxes, muskrats, otters, porcupines, raccoons and turtles. Its killing of non-target birds included bluebirds, cardinals, chickadees, ducks, eagles, grouse, hawks, herons, owls and swans. Dozens of domestic animals, including pets and livestock, also were eliminated. Employees of Wildlife Services are instructed not to report such incidental killings because that information would have an adverse effect on the agency’s ability to obtain funding.
Such data also reveal the indiscriminate nature of painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and other methods used by federal agents.
Some of these methods have also endangered and killed people – the individuals charged with carrying out the brutal annihilation of animals. According to an exposé by the Sacramento Bee, since 1987, at least 18 employees and several members of the public have been exposed to cyanide, a chemical meant to kill coyotes, when they triggered spring-loaded cartridges laced with the poison. They survived. However, since 1979, 10 people died and many others have been injured in crashes during aerial gunning operations carried out by Wildlife Services.
“The barbaric, outdated tactics Wildlife Services uses to destroy America’s animals need to end,” Adkins declared. “Wolves, bears and other carnivores help balance the web of life where they live. Our government needs to end its pointless cycle of violence.”
The wildlife-killing program contributed to the decline of gray wolves, Mexican wolves, black-footed ferrets, black-tailed prairie dogs and other imperiled species during the first half of the 1900s and continues to impede their recovery today.
Read full article: Agriculture Department Killed 1.3 Million Native Animals in 2017
Photo Courtesy of @Mac McMillen.