The Force of the Horse

Taxpayer-Funded War on Wildlife Claimed 1.3 Million Native Animals in 2017

Press Release from Wild Earth Guardians

Wildlife Services Slaughters Vulnerable Wildlife and Family Dogs

MISSOULA, MT — On April 16, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s clandestine wildlife killing program announced its shocking death toll of animals killed last year. The ironically-named “Wildlife Services” program failed to disclose its expenditures, but historically has spent millions of taxpayer dollars annually. This year our tax dollars were spent to kill at least 1,320,075 native animals in 2017. Mass slaughter at similar proportions occurs year after year as Wildlife Services ignores public outcry and scientific criticism of the wanton killing.

Using public tax dollars to purportedly benefit a select few private agricultural interests, Wildlife Services employs traps, snares, poisons and aerial guns to slaughter wildlife and undermine public safety. Wildlife Services is so intent on killing millions of animals that the program even refuses to relent after it almost killed a teenage boy with sodium cyanide in March 2017. The boy is fortunate to be alive, but tragically watched his dog succumb to the poison after the boy accidentally triggered an M-44 sodium cyanide bomb placed on public land just behind the family’s home. In total, 149 dogs and 28 unspecified “domestic animals (pets or livestock)” died at the hands of Wildlife Services last year alone. The program brazenly admitted to “unintentionally” taking 39 lives between the two categories of domestic animals. Former Wildlife Services staffers have reported the program routinely underreports its body count, a sign of its entrenched “shoot, shovel, shut-up” mentality.

“Wildlife Services does not serve wildlife or the public funding its outrageously cruel practices,” said Michelle Lute, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. “As long as the program continues with its status quo killing, our public lands are neither truly public nor protected but instead managed to serve private agricultural interests at the expense of life, recreation and public safety.”

Despite the best available science indicating that indiscriminate killing of wildlife only exacerbates livestock-caused conflict, in 2017 Wildlife Services reported killing: 69,041 coyotes, 23,722 beavers, 1,001 bobcats, 2,167 gray foxes, 1,585 red foxes, 552 black bears, 357 gray wolves, and 319 cougars. Wildlife Services targets the most vulnerable and defenseless animals by destroying dens with countless young animals inside: 58,604 prairie dog burrows, 393 coyote dens, 128 fox dens, and 65 wolf dens. Even federally protected imperiled species find themselves in Wildlife Services’ crosshairs with an endangered Mexican gray wolf and two grizzlies bears killed last year.

“Spending millions of taxpayer dollars each year to kill our native wildlife is fiscally wasteful, scientifically baseless and morally repugnant,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “We call on the program to abandon its kill first approach, adopt science-based decision-making and spend public funds on effective non-lethal coexistence methods.”

WildEarth Guardians is working to reform the program to be accountable to the public and end cruel and unnecessary killing of native animals. Putting an end to Wildlife Services’ War on Wildlife is a critical step toward ensuring our public lands are safe havens for wildlife, people and their companion animals. Read more about our End the War on Wildlife campaign.

8 replies »

  1. The ignorance shown by allowing this agency to continue the exact same “policy” that slaughtered & wiped out the buffalo, wolves, mountain lions, and far too many other species, is the same ignorance that was shown hundreds of years ago – when people actually did NOT know better. We, the people, do know better – about time the government was prevented from perpetuating this kind of “program”.


  2. The figures for animals deaths does not even mention the hundreds of thousands of birds killed at the behest of sunflower producers or millet growers. This is outrageous. I have contacted my congressman and senators and my congressman is the only one who seems to have tried to get some answers from the Wilddeath Service. He said it is very hard to even get them to respond to questions and absolutely refuse to give up how much they spend on killing animals. A secretive dept such as this can only succeed with the help of a complicit government.


  3. In the oringal press release 624,845 redwinged blackbirds were listed right before black bears. I shared it and some way these birds were left out. We have missed them for several years now since so many were poisoned. They have a sweet song and I have seen them pick bagworms off of our cypress tree.
    All of these killings have upset the balance of nature and are a sin against the Creator. This has been going on for years.


  4. Not surprisingly, trying to figure out exactly how much you and I pay for our wild animals to be killed is difficult. The actual budget (left side when link opens) is very complicated but it does say, “The 2019 President’s Budget request for the Service totals $2.8 billion, including current appropriations
    of $1.2 billion.”


  5. I am tired of killing and torture of our animals and our public land the American people land not ranchers, blm.,trophy hunters,big companies. God we need you please help us protect amen.


  6. Millions of taxpayer dollars are better spent on education…beginning with the US Dept of Agriculture and the welfare ranchers they enable. Once that problem is solved, a natural balance will return to the land. And the USA could help every citizen to graduate with a doctorate, and our country would once again be a*w*e*s*o*m*e! (and healthy…studies show red meat is bad for you)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is sickening as well as outrageous! I just don’t understand how wicked government agencies can be to pretend to act “for” animals and actually are paid destroyers of such.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Federal Wildlife-killing Program Sued Over Carnivore Killing in Colorado
    Lawsuit Targets Controversial Plan to Kill Black Bears, Mountain Lions in Colorado
    DENVER— Conservationists sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services today over its carnivore killing program in Colorado. Included in the larger program are controversial plans to kill as many as 120 mountain lions and black bears in Colorado in a misguided experiment aimed at increasing the state’s mule deer population.
    The suit argues that the federal wildlife-killing program failed to fully analyze the environmental impacts of its destruction of wildlife in Colorado, including other native carnivores like coyotes and foxes.
    “Wildlife Services is once again using taxpayer dollars to kill native wildlife while ignoring science and public opinion,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “The public is entitled to know the full environmental impacts of publicly funded, scientifically unsound and ethically bankrupt wildlife killing.”
    In December 2016, Colorado Parks and Wildlife approved two highly controversial plans to kill large numbers of black bears and mountain lions to assess the impacts on mule deer populations. The plans charge Wildlife Services, the federal government’s wildlife killing arm, with carrying out much of the killing using public funds. Wildlife Services’ involvement in the experiment lacks proper review as demanded by federal law.
    “Wildlife Services’ decision to expand its killing program is misguided,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center representing the organizations. “The best available science reveals loss of habitat from oil and gas development is the driving factor in mule deer decline, not predation from black bears and mountain lions.”
    The lawsuit alleges that Wildlife Services failed to consider the impact its statewide program of killing native carnivores — including black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and foxes — will have on the environment and Colorado’s unique wild places. The groups are challenging the program’s finding that no significant impact will occur as the result of the program’s planned trapping, poisoning, and shooting of hundreds of native animals in Colorado. The organizations’ challenge also targets the program’s incorporation of Parks and Wildlife’s contentious predator-killing studies in the Piceance and Upper Arkansas basins as part of its work plan without conducting a thorough environmental review.
    “I’m outraged that Colorado plans to kill bears and mountain lions to boost deer populations for hunters,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The state relies on outdated and unscientific thinking that disregards the importance of predators. The scientific analysis that our lawsuit seeks would show that Colorado’s predator-killing program is ecologically harmful, as well as ineffective and cruel.”
    Together, the Piceance Basin Predator Management Plan and Upper Arkansas River Predator Management Plan would kill between 15 and 45 mountain lions and 30 to 75 bears over three years in 500 square miles west of Meeker and Rifle, Colorado, as well as more than half of the mountain lions in 2,370 square miles in the south-central part of the state. The Piceance Basin plan calls for using Wildlife Services to deploy cage traps, culvert traps and foot snares to capture and then shoot mountain lions and bears. Parks and Wildlife ignored a huge amount of public opposition — including the advice of the state’s own leading scientists — in deciding to proceed with the killing projects.
    WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity are asking the court to order Wildlife Services to complete a full environmental impact statement before it participates in the state’s scientifically flawed carnivore-killing plans or conducts other wildlife killing activities in Colorado.
    Today’s lawsuit is the second in a series of legal challenges against Parks and Wildlife’s disputed killing schemes. In February WildEarth Guardians sued the state agency in state court alleging violation of Colorado’s constitutional amendment prohibiting trapping, amongst other claims. A motion for preliminary injunction to prevent the killing pending the outcome of litigation is currently before the court. Absent a ruling soon, the killing is slated to begin May


Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.