The numbers are appalling: Last year, the federal agency known as Wildlife Services killed more than 2 million native animals, including wolves, bears, foxes and eagles with a devastating ecological toll.
Think about what that means: Nearly 5,500 animals a day, 228 every hour, 5 every minute.
And it isn't just the scale, which is frightening enough, but also how it's done. Wolves and other animals are shot by men in airplanes and helicopters, die from exploding poison caps, and take their last breaths in traps, where they often suffer over long periods of time.
It's all being carried out using your taxpayer dollars, at the behest of livestock, agriculture and other special interests, who believe, in many cases falsely, that the killing of so many animals will bolster their bottom line.
But last year, according to new figures from this agency, it came at a gruesome price. The kill report includes more than 320 gray wolves, 75,326 coyotes, 419 black bears, 866 bobcats, 528 river otters, 372 badgers, 3,700 foxes, 22 sandhill cranes, three golden eagles and a bald eagle. The agency killed 12,186 black-tailed prairie dogs and destroyed more than 30,000 of their dens.
Somehow this agency has the nerve to call itself "Wildlife Services," an Orwellian misnomer if there ever was one.
The new data reveal the federal agency has not slowed its killing despite a growing public outcry, an ongoing investigation by the Agriculture Department's inspector general, and calls for reform by scientists, members of Congress and non-governmental organizations.
It's clear by now that Wildlife Services has no intention to change. That's why the Center for Biological Diversity has called on the Obama Administration to finally reform this rogue agency to make it more accountable, more transparent, compliant with environmental laws, science-based, and, at the least, to do more to minimize the deaths of non-target animals in its operations.
America's wildlife are being systematically picked off, by the millions, by Wildlife Services. More than 26 million animals native to North America have been wiped out since 1996 with little public oversight. Most of this relentless killing has happened away from the view of most Americans. But now that we know, there's no longer an excuse to let it continue.