Wildlife Services Slaughtered 2.7 Million Animals in 2014 in the Name of Coexistence

04/16/2015 06:13 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2015

I've written a number of essays on a federal agency called Wildlife Services whose stated mission, namely, "to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist," couldn't be further from what they actually do. Federal agents working for Wildlife Services killed 2,713,570 animals in 2014, down from 4,378,456 animals killed in 2013. Animals killed "included 570 black bears, 322 gray wolves, 61,702 coyotes, 2,930 foxes, and 305 mountain lions. The agency also killed three bald eagles and five golden eagles using methods like cyanide capsules, neck snares, and foot traps."

Wildlife Services has been killing millions upon millions of animals for a long time. Dr. Bradley Bergstrom, a biologist at Valdosta State University, notes, "The whole approach of just getting rid of the perceived problem by killing it is something that this agency has been doing for well over 100 years." And, as they merrily torment, torture, and kill these animals, Wildlife Services continues to be scrutinized by those who want to put them out of business (please see "Exposed: Human-Animal Interactions and the War on Wildlife" and also "Murder Incorporated: Wildlife Services Under Public Scrutiny" and "The Federal Government Killed Nearly Three Million Animals Last Year"). Oregon Representative (D) Peter DeFazio claims, "Their lethal predator control program is particularly inhumane and totally unnecessary." More details on the documentary "Exposed: USDA's Secret War on Wildlife" can be seen here.

I'm updating the egregious and unregulated activities of Wildlife Services because when I tell many people about what they do they're incredulous and think I'm inflating the numbers. Clearly, I'm not. And, in addition to intentional kills, Wildlife Services' war on wildlife is responsible for slaughtering numerous animals unintentionally, and this collateral damage includes pets and animals who pose no danger or do no damage. Laura Dattaro notes (link is external), "Accidental kills are a frequent byproduct of the agency's methods. Of the 454 river otters killed, for example, 390 were unintentional, likely during attempts to kill beavers, which can flood property with their dams." Many animals just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and are wantonly killed. And, what's also disconcerting is the fact that Wildlife Services doesn't have to tell why the animals were killed and their killing ways don't work. Thus, "A 2014 study examining livestock data from 1897 through 2012 found that lethal force against wolves actually increased the odds of a wolf attack on sheep by 4 percent and cattle by 5 to 6 percent. That's likely because killing wolves causes the pack structure to collapse, which leads to solitary wolves looking for food beyond their usual hunting grounds."

Wildlife Services kills using taxpayers money, and I hope you'll take the time to write to members of Congress from your area to ask them to put them out of business once and for all. Wildlife Services is bad news and has been for a long time, yet they're able to continue their killing ways with little oversight. Cruelty can't stand the spotlight and it's essential not to let Wildlife Services slip through the cracks of bureacracy because of apathy about their murderous ways.