US Wildlife Services Killed The Equivalent Of 200 Animals Every Hour In 2021
A small division of the US government was responsible for killing more than 1.75 million animals across the country in 2021, about 200 creatures every hour.
According to The Guardian, the latest annual toll of The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, a department within the US Department of Agriculture, has further stoked the fury of conservation groups that have decried the killings as cruel and pointless.
Wildlife Services maintains the slaughter is necessary to protect agricultural output, threatened species and human health.
According to the department website, “Wildlife Services provides wildlife damage management assistance to protect agriculture, natural resources, property and health and safety. In many instances, more than a single type of resource benefits from operational management activities. For example, Wildlife Services biologists work with the aviation community to reduce wildlife hazards at airports to protect public safety and reduce property damage to aircraft. Wildlife Services protects resources through implementation of integrated wildlife damage management programs.”
The department reported killing 404,538 native animals in 2021. The most common victims are wolves, coyotes, cougars, birds and other wild animals, particularly those that disrupt agriculture in states like Texas, Colorado and Idaho.
According to the report, the multimillion-dollar program last year killed 324 gray wolves, 64,131 coyotes, 433 black bears, 200 mountain lions, 605 bobcats, 3,014 foxes, 24,687 beavers, and 714 river otters. Far less than the reported number of animals killed.
“It’s stomach-turning to see this barbaric federal program wiping out hundreds of thousands of native animals,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Killing carnivores like wolves and coyotes to supposedly benefit the livestock industry just leads to more conflicts and more killing. This is a truly vicious cycle, and we’ll continue to demand change from Wildlife Services.”
The reported number of native animals killed in 2021 was similar to the 433,192 killed in 2020. But even these numbers pale in comparison to 2019. Wildlife Services killed approximately 1.3 million native animals that year, including 15,096 red-winged blackbirds, compared to 364,734 in 2019.
As National Geographic reports, the wildlife-killing program unintentionally killed more than 2,746 animals in 2021, including bears, bobcats, mountain lions, foxes, muskrats, otters, deer, turtles and dogs. Nontarget birds like wood ducks, tree swallows, herons and turkeys were also taken as collateral damage by “leghold traps, snares, poisons and other methods used by federal agents,” NatGeo reports.
Wildlife Services further poisoned 7,573 animals using M-44 cyanide bombs in 2020, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Of these deaths, 314 were unintentional, a statistic that comes just 5 years after an Idaho teen was nearly fatally poisoned by an M-44, and his dog killed.
“It’s inexcusable that Wildlife Services continues to target rare and ecologically important animals like wolves and grizzly bears, forcing them to suffer and die in cruel traps and snares,” Adkins said. “Taxpayer-funded wildlife slaughter needs to stop and be replaced with a program that provides nonlethal tools that effectively prevent most conflicts with wildlife.”
In the last few years, litigation and community opposition curtailed Wildlife Services operations in numerous states, including California, Idaho, Minnesota and Washington, as well as localities such as Humboldt County and Minneapolis, where the Endangered Species Act requires the government to analyze and mitigate the adverse effects of federal culling programs. In these areas, Wildlife Services in now working with livestock operators to implement modern measures to prevent conflicts with wildlife
Help us bring an end to these unnecessary killings! Sign the petition and tell U.S. Wildlife Services to emphasize nonlethal methods when controlling wildlife.