The Force of the Horse

I-Team: Federal agency spends more than $100M to kill predatory animals

Wildlife Services is a welfare program for ranchers, and on top of all the other ones where the government comes in, they do aerial gunning, they use traps and snares…They use all kinds of horrible poisons to kill animals.”

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LAS VEGAS – DISCLAIMER: Some of the images in this story may be disturbing.

Nevada Lawmakers are debating a plan that would remove hundreds of thousands of dollars from a program that targets predators such as coyotes, mountain lions, and bears.  The money is raised from hunters when they obtain their licenses, and it goes into programs that kill predators which prey on trophy animals such as deer or big horn sheep.

But the state program is a drop in the bucket compared to a little known federal agency that spends more than $100 million in public funding per year to kill animals.

The I-Team discovered that Nevada is a bloody battleground for coyotes and other predators. An obscure federal agency called Wildlife Services, which was created in the late 1800’s, spends huge sums each year to shoot, trap, and poison predators, such as coyotes, foxes, lions, bears, and birds.

Of the 12 bloodiest counties in the west, three are in Nevada.  It is no coincidence that Elko, Humboldt, and White Pine counties are all ranching centers.

“Wildlife Services is a welfare program for ranchers, and on top of all the other ones where the government comes in, they do aerial gunning, they use traps and snares,” said Wendy Keefover, Humane Society of the U.S. “They use all kinds of horrible poisons to kill animals.”

Keefover is the author of a study which asserts that Wildlife Services spends up to $140 million to kill millions of animals. The 8 News NOW I-Team reached out to the agency to get the numbers, but it has been reluctant to reveal just how many animals die.

“I think Wildlife Services has a culture of killing,” Keefover said. “It’s going to be very hard for them to be truthful.”  There’s a culture of shoot, shovel and shut up in that agency.”

Keefover’s study helped inspire a lawsuit in federal court which challenged the legitimacy of the science behind predator control, and because Nevada is ground zero for wildlife services’ killing machine, the suit was filed in the state of Nevada.

“Nevada’s wildlife services budget is somewhere close to $3 million; nationally wildlife services kills millions of animals a year,” said Dr. Don Molde, a wildlife advocate.  “The number is three or four million or more.  They kill birds; they kill mammals. They kill all kinds of things.”

Molde became a central part of the court challenge.  He says the hatred of coyotes in particular is way out of whack.

“Because the coyote is so hated by the people who manage it, Dr. Molde said.  “The wildlife services department, ranchers who complain about coyotes — to me the animal is demonized far beyond what it deserves.”

Coyotes and mountain lions prey on livestock from time to time, but the government spends more money to kill the predators than what the livestock are worth. It pays an average of $700 to kill a coyote and thousands of dollars to hunt a mountain lion.

Some methods are unnecessarily cruel and often have the exact opposite effect of what was intended.

“Randomly killing coyotes produces the wrong kind of coyote and makes the problem they are trying to address even worse,” Dr. Molde said.  “So it’s utterly crazy.”

Coyotes go into reproductive overdrive when hunted down because of the constant pressure, today’s coyotes these days are bigger, stronger, and their range has spread across all of North America.

In addition to federal money spent to protect livestock, the state of Nevada has its own pot of public dollars to kill predators. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are collected from hunting licenses.

The state anti-predator programs are designed mainly to benefit hunters, eliminating predators that might be a threat to desirable trophy animals like deer and bighorn sheep…(CONTINUED)

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10 replies »

  1. A country is known by the way it treats its animals. America has sunk to the bottom, and taxpayers pay these monsters who slaughter our animals and who are uncivilized barbarians.


  2. U.S. House sanctions killing hibernating bears, wolf pups in their dens on federal refuges in Alaska
    February 16, 2017

    The vote in favor of H.J. Resolution 69, authored by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, was 225 to 193. Those 225 members voted to overturn a federal rule -years in the works, and crafted by professional wildlife managers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – to stop some of the most appalling practices ever imagined in the contemporary era of wildlife management. Denning of wolf pups, killing hibernating bears, spotting grizzly bears from aircraft and then shooting them after landing, and trapping grizzly bears and black bears with steel-jawed leghold traps and snares. The stuff of wildlife snuff films.

    And not just on any land. On our country’s national wildlife refuges. More specifically, on 16 national wildlife refuges covering 76 million acres, all in the state of Alaska.
    Republican lawmakers did this for the NRA, the SAFARI CLUB,, and some hunting guides and outfitters.

    There were 10 Republicans who voted AGAINST the majority position
    Reps. Dan Donovan and
    Peter King of New York,
    Frank LoBiondo,
    Tom MacArthur, and
    Chris Smith of New Jersey,
    Martha McSally of Arizona,
    Dave Reichert of Washington,
    Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida,
    Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and
    Fred Upton of Michigan.
    We thank them for their compassion and courage.

    There were five Democrats who voted with the Republican majority
    Reps. Henry Cuellar,
    Vicente Gonzalez and
    Filemon Vela of Texas,
    Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and
    Collin Peterson of Minnesota
    even as a parade of Democratic lawmakers called out the cruelty and said the behavior in question was unconscionable and unthinkable.


    • What part of the word “refuge” means allowing such unethical killing of sleeping or immature predators? If this is to be allowed those responsible should be required to change the names of these former “refuges” and post a kill count on their individual web pages for all citizens. If they are proud of this they shouldn’t mind showing off, and should be held accountable to those who pay their salaries — US!

      Thanks for publishing names, I’m relieved none are from my state but hope those who find their representatives here will raise objections.


  3. I also wonder about the NRA leadership….does it truly represent its members?
    I know avid NRA members who don’t hunt nor do they go along with the NRA agenda as far as hunting on refuges AND they didn’t even know about the NRA pushing to remove the Wild Horses from Sheldon Wildlife Refuge.


  4. Man needs to leave mother nature alone before he destroys our ego system! This money is just making more Government jobs. Give them an inch and they will take a mile and destroy everything in their path. They are a bunch of paid robots and have not conscience. They will kill anything for money including humans. That’s been proven. They are breaking the law and should be imprisoned for what they have done and are doing and any official that skirts the law for them and turns a head the other direction, should be in prison with them. They do not have the support of the majority of the voters!


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