Wildlife Services sounds like a government agency focused on serving wild animals, yet part of their activities includes killing them. Their website summarized its mission as, “APHIS works in a variety of ways to protect and improve the health, quality, and marketability of our nation’s animals (including various wildlife), animal products, and veterinary biologics.”
On the surface it sounds benign enough, so the fact they kill so many wild animals is shocking. Beavers, coyotes, raccoons, river otters, porcupines, snapping turtles, javelina, striped skunks and muskrats are just some of the innocent victims. It was reported over 2,300 river otters were killed by mistake in body-grip traps set by Wildlife Services since 2006. A total of 7,800 animals died in the same type of traps set by them just in the last six years. If you want to see an example of their work, you can download this PDF file which documented intentional and unintentional deaths. (It might open at 65%, but you can increase that in the tool bar at the top of the document.) In 2009 there were nearly one million red-winged blackbirds intentionally eliminated, 25,000 beavers and over 1,700 bobcats.
An employee working with the agency said he was told to cover up the fact a federally protected eagle was caught and killed in one of their snares. If the Sacramento Bee’s account is correct, about 300 species of animals have been killed by Wildlife Services, including close to one million coyotes just in the last twelve years. Over one thousand dogs also have died, and some were family pets.
“Every year, Wildlife Services spends millions of dollars to kill thousands of predators, coyotes, wolves, bears, mountain lions, and many others as a subsidy for the livestock industry. The animals are shot, poisoned, gassed, snared, and caught in leghold traps. Wildlife Services programs operate on both private and public lands,” explains a non-profit called Predator Defense.
Doesn’t it seem a little peculiar tax dollars are being used to kill wild animals in service of the livestock industry – especially if the public is unaware of how their taxes are being spent?
Image Credit: Steve, Wiki Commons