War On Wildlife
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program spends millions of taxpayer dollars to inhumanely kill as many as 100,000 wild predators annually. More accurately described by its former name, Animal Damage Control, Wildlife Services spends millions of dollars each year to kill thousands of wild animals (like coyotes, foxes, and badgers) in the name of protecting crops, livestock, private property, and "natural resources" such as birds who are endangered or favored by hunters.
The methods used to kill these animals include shooting from helicopters and airplanes, trapping, poisoning and denning (poisoning pups in their dens). Trapping and poisoning injure or kill "non-target" animals such as deer, birds, and companion animals—even endangered species. All this, despite the development of non-lethal methods to protect livestock and crops, and evidence that killing predators doesn't even solve the problem.
Coyotes and other predators provide easy scapegoats for the many difficulties faced by ranchers, and an easy target for Wildlife Services. But overall, predators account for a small percentage of livestock losses. The vast majority of livestock loss is caused by disease, severe weather and difficulty during calving or lambing. While coyotes and foxes are blamed for bird population declines, in most cases, habitat loss and/or fragmentation is the real culprit. Once this has taken place, these populations are more vulnerable to predation by other wild animals.
5,500 animals a day, 228 an hour, 4 every minute - red-tailed hawks, Arctic foxes and river otters, some of America's most magnificent wildlife....By the time you finish reading this, 8 more of these wild animals will have been gunned down, crushed in traps, or poisoned by an exploding cyanide landmine laid down by the USDA's rogue animal-killing program, Wildlife Services.
This little-known agency, a unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is secretive for a reason: Its actions are incredibly, unacceptably and illegally brutal and inhumane to animals, from familiar wildlife to endangered species - and even people’s companion animals.
This agency has been killing as many as 3 million native animals every year - including coyotes, bears, beavers, wolves, otters, foxes, prairie dogs, mountain lions, birds and other animals - without any oversight, accountability or requirement to disclose its activities to the public. The agency 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.
No other government program does more every day to annihilate America’s wildlife than Wildlife Services. This rogue program does much of its dirty work far from the public’s view, so millions of animals disappear from our landscapes every year with little accountability.
Most of Wildlife Services’ killing is done on behalf of the livestock and agriculture industries, along with other powerful interests. The methods are gruesome, including aerial gunning, traps and exploding cyanide caps. Companion animals have also been inadvertently harmed.
Many of these animals are carnivores at the top of the food chain and have a tremendous benefit to overall ecosystem health. They include endangered species and, largely, animals that agribusiness interests consider undesirable - as well as many animals that aren’t intended targets of the agency.
The century-old Wildlife Services - which has reportedly killed 32 million native animals since 1996 - destroys these creatures on behalf of such interests without explaining to the public what it’s doing or where, the methods it’s using, on whose behalf it’s acting, or why. It frequently doesn’t even attempt to use nonlethal methods before shooting coyotes and wolves from airplanes, or laying out traps and exploding poison caps indiscriminately - including in public areas - without any rules.
Stories about Wildlife Services consistently emerge describing an agency that routinely commits extreme cruelty against animals, leaving them to die in traps from exposure or starvation, attacking trapped coyotes, and brutalizing domestic dogs. Many people who know about the agency have criticized this dark, secretive entity as a subsidy for livestock interests.
As the actions of Wildlife Services continue to be exposed, organizations and individuals across the country continue to join together in an effort to end the inhumane slaughter of millions of animals each year by the federal government with taxpayers' money.
What You Can Do
Though lethal predator control may seem a simple solution, reducing predator populations only occasionally increases bird population increases, and then only for a short time. Such increases require continued and widespread lethal predator control, continuing the cycle of cruelty without ever tackling the actual problem.
Changing livestock husbandry practices and adopting non-lethal strategies can go a long way toward reducing or eliminating predator-caused livestock losses over the long term.
Husbandry practices include:
- bringing sheep into a barn during lambing (when they are especially vulnerable)
- corralling livestock at night
- removing livestock carcasses before they attract coyotes, bears, or other predators.
Non-lethal means of reducing livestock depredations include:
- livestock-guarding animals
- electric fencing
- aversive conditioning of attacking predators.
Finally, improving and preserving habitat, as well as installing fencing that excludes predators, are long-term, inexpensive solutions that will serve both people and wildlife.