Predator Bloodbath: ‘Secretive’ Federal Agency Wildlife Services Kills 1.6 Million Native Animals in 2016

(EnviroNews Nature) — Wildlife Services (WS), a little-known wildlife-killing program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), killed 2,744,010 animals in 2016, 1,594,595 of which were native to the U.S. The agency shared this death toll in its annual program data report released March 15, 2017. Millions of taxpayer dollars fund this deadly program each year, which focuses primarily on eliminating apex predators and other animals that threaten livestock and agriculture.

Carnivores are the primary targets for WS, along with many keystone species considered by biologists to be linchpins in their ecosystems. Coyotes were the hardest hit in 2016 with 76,963 deaths, which is an increase from 69,905 in 2015. Bobcats (997), cougars (332), gray wolves (415), black bears (407), gray foxes (1,788) and red foxes (1,882) also experienced devastating casualties. Other keystone species killed include beavers (21,286) and black-tailed prairie dogs (14,591). Over 58,000 prairie dog burrows were also destroyed.

Many canines, both domestic and free-roaming, were also killed last year. WS accidentally killed 39 domestic dogs and intentionally killed 181 free-roaming and feral dogs along with 15 other domestic animals, which were unspecified. As reported by EnviroNews, WS killed 3.2 million wild animals in 2015, 1,681,283 of which were native to U.S.

Neighbor’s Dog “Zoey” Trapped by Wildlife Services Employee

The under-reporting of agency killings is also “widely accepted,” according to WildEarth Guardians. In its report on WS titled, “War on Wildlife,” the environmental non-profit org describes WS as “a program that executes our essential native animals in our own backyards for the purported benefit of a vocal minority of anti-carnivore and agribusiness interests.”

Carter Niemeyer, a former WS district manager who worked with the agency for over two decades, told The Sacramento Bee that accurate reporting, while required by agency policy, is often not carried out. “The public has every right to scrutinize what’s going on,” he added.

“Outside the ranching community, few have heard of Wildlife Services,” explained National Geographic in 2016. Both expert reporters and members of the government, including Congressman Peter Defazio, have been denied information on the agency’s killing practices while being shut out from witnessing the events.

Wildlife Services Trapping Predators

Even the infamously gruesome photo atop this article featuring 11 severed mountain lion heads was obtained only after an “outraged employee” of the Arizona Game and Fish Department became fed up with WS and exposed the episode for all to see.

WS uses “cruel,” “outdated” and “unscientific” means of killing animals, including snaring, poisoning, trapping and aerial gunning. WildEarth Guardians explains these methods only exacerbate conflicts between native species and farms. Multiple biologists and conservation organizations have also asserted WS’s methods can also lead to an increase in breeding when packs are destabilized.

Wolf Killed by Wildlife Services

“Scientifically proven nonlethal methods abound, including effective, affordable, humane options such as flagging, solar-powered fences, range riders and guard animals,” Michelle Lute, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner for WildEarth Guardians, told EnviroNews. “Wildlife Services gives lip service to nonlethal tools but until the program adopts a nonlethal mandate it is abundantly clear that it will continue killing obscene numbers of animals.”

Lute also explained in 2016, three native animals were killed every minute, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. She described this as “an all-out war on wildlife.” Bethany Cotton, Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, characterizes this killing of native wildlife as “scientifically baseless, ethically bankrupt and fiscally foolish.”

The Humane Society, which calls the program “Wildlife Disservices,” shares that between 2004 and 2013, 34 million animals were killed to the tune of of over $1 billion.

“Wildlife Disservices” Graph — Humane Society

In October 2016, WildEarth Guardians won a landmark settlement to increase the regulation of Wildlife Services’ killings. The program was ordered by federal judges to submit new environmental assessments (EAs) for review in order to continue its wildlife eradications in specific areas. How this settlement will affect the agency’s 2017 death toll is yet to be seen.

MORE AWESOME ENVIRONEWS REPORTS ON WILDLIFE SERVICES AND THREATENED WILDLIFE

After a Century, ‘Landmark Settlement’ Puts Brakes on Federal Government’s ‘Rogue’ Wildlife-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Nature) – Missoula, Montana – Well, it only took a century, but it has happened at last: Something finally put the brakes on Wildlife Services (WS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “secretive,” “rogue,” “cruel” wildlife-killing agency – and that “something” is the environmental non-profit organization WildEarth…

‘Secret’ Federal Agency Admits Killing 3.2 Million Wild Animals in U.S. Last Year Alone

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington D.C. – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) admitted in its annual Program Data Report to having killed at least 3.2 million wild animals in 2015 alone – many of which were large predators. 1,681,283 of that total…

Lions and Tigers and… Sage Grouse? Oh My! – The Granddaddy Endangered Species Battle of Them All

(EnviroNews Nature) – On March 3, 2017, EnviroNews Nature released one of the largest and most expansive documentaries ever published on a wildlife species in peril – the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). The academic yet entertaining film spans a plethora of topics and includes intersecting interviews, viewpoints…

Wyoming Wolves Stripped of Endangered Species Act Protection – Shoot-on-Sight Policy Restored

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Gray wolves (Canis lupus) will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the state of Wyoming. That was the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 3, 2017, which also happened to be…

Republicans Lick Chops While Revving Up To Dismantle The Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Nature) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 15, 2017, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) held a hearing called, “Oversight: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the EPW, held this two-hour hearing to explore “the need to modernize…

300 NGO and Environmental Orgs Demand via Joint Letter Ntl. Guvs Assoc. Protect Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 23, 2017, a coalition of almost 300 NGO, environment, conservation and social justice groups concerned with the now uncertain future of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) sent a letter to the National Governors Association (NGA). The letter was…

WildEarth Guardians Sues Colorado over Plan to Kill Black Bears, Mountain Lions

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW), the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources are being sued by WildEarth Guardians (WEG) for their December approval of two predator-killing programs. Through the Piceance Basin Predator Management…

Report: 86% of North America’s Bird Species Struggling or in Crisis – 33% Facing Extinction

(EnviroNews Nature) – One in three North American bird species are of “high concern” to conservationists with an additional 50% struggling badly, according to the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). The group’s annual report The State of North America’s Birds 2016 makes for grim reading by suggesting…

POLL CLOSED: Should USDA’s Secretive Wildlife Killing Program Be Abolished? Yes/No – VIEW RESULTS

(EnviroNews Polls) – 3.2 million animals. That is the amount of critters and creatures brutally eradicated by Wildlife Services (WS) in America last year alone, by way of traps, snares, bullets and poisons – all with your tax dollars of course (at least if you are a U.S….

Five Environmental Groups Sue USDA Over Idaho Wolf-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On June 1, 2016, five prominent environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services for killing over 650 wolves in the state of Idaho over the past decade. Wildlife Services is…

Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

Federal Judge Orders Stop to Canadian Lynx Trapping in Idaho

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – A federal judge has ordered a stop to the haphazard trapping of Canadian Lynx in Idaho. Lynx canadensis, as it is scientifically known, is one of the rarest cats in the United States and has been captured multiple times in Idaho over…

Feds Attempting to Strip Yellowstone Grizzly Bear of Endangered Species Act Protection

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Missoula, Montana – In a move that has angered environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed on March 3, 2016, to strip the iconic Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear of its protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),…

Poll Closed: Should U.S. Government Maintain a Wolf-Killing Program? Yes or No? – View Results

(EnviroNews Polls) – In December of 2015, several environmental groups, spearheaded by WildEarth Guardians, won a pivotal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency, for its wolf-killing program in Washington State. On February 3, 2016, WildEarth Guardians, in concert with four other groups, filed…

No Endangered Species Act Protection for Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Interior Announces

(EnviroNews Arizona) – Washington D.C. – The Morafka’s, or Sonoran desert tortoise, or Gopherus morafkai as it is scientifically known, is a slow moving, yet ancient creature that gets its water from eating native plants while spending most of its time in underground insulated burrows that it digs…

POLL: Should Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Be Delisted, Hunted and Killed? Yes/No? (Feds Say Yes)

(EnviroNews Polls) – On March 3, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed a new rule that would delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear, and advocate the hunting and elimination of at least 200 of the region’s approximately 715 specimens. The move fueled…

Will Redrawing Core Sage Grouse Areas in Wyoming Help Save the Bird From Extinction?

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – In late April a gloomy report was issued by Pew Charitable Trusts that claims there is a 98.7 percent chance greater sage grouse will go extinct in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin in 30 years if the current course continues. The Powder River…

Dept. of Interior: No Protection for Greater Sage Grouse Under Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Commerce City, Colorado – On the morning of Tuesday August 22, 2015, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced that Centrocercus urophasianus, a.k.a. greater sage grouse, will not receive protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A decision by U.S. Fish…

ALERT: GOP Attempting to Kill Environmental Regs Across The Board With Sneaky Budget Riders

(EnviroNews World News) – Washington, DC – It seems like we, at EnviroNews, have been reporting on this type of thing all year. That is, sketchy environmental riders being attached to totally unrelated appropriations bills in backdoor efforts to kill environmental and wildlife protections. Yes, this year’s spending…

Obama Administration Comes Out Against NDAA Sage Grouse Rider

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington DC – In a surprising environmentally-friendly move today following the Department of the Interior’s green light for Shell Oil Company’s arctic drilling ambitions yesterday, the Obama Administration came out against a controversial rider in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that…

Sec. Sally Jewell Announces DOI Will Not List Bi-State Sage Grouse as Endangered

(EnviroNews Nevada) – Reno, Nevada – To the dismay and disappointment of environmentalists, conservationists and biologist alike, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced on April 21, 2015 (which also happened to be Earth Day) that the bi-state sage grouse will not be making its way…

WA State Stops Bloodshed After Massacring Profanity Peak Wolf Pack To Appease Cattle Ranchers

(EnviroNews Washington) – Olympia, Washington – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced October 19, 2016, that it would spare the remaining four members of the now demolished Profanity Peak Wolf Pack, after already having killed seven of its wolves (Canis lupus) to appease cattle ranchers….

WildEarth Guardians: DOI’s Bi-State Sage Grouse ‘Conservation Success’ Is ‘Window Dressing’

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – On April 21, 2015 Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Sally Jewell appeared in Reno, Nevada to make a pivotal Bi-State Sage Grouse Announcement: No protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the bi-state distinct population of the greater…