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USDA’s Wildlife Services Killed 386 Wolves in 2020 to Benefit Livestock Industry

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Wildlife Services – formerly called “Animal Damage Control” – is a federal agency that shoots, traps, and poisons wild animals en masse at the behest of state governments, agricultural interests, and more.

According to the agency’s website, Wildlife Services “to improve the coexistence of people and wildlife” and “strives to develop and use wildlife damage management strategies that are biologically sound, environmentally safe, and socially acceptable“. But earlier this week, Wildlife Services released its Program Data Report about its nationwide operations in 2020 and the numbers are shocking.

Wildlife Services agents killed 433,192 native animals in 2020; although this was a significant decrease from the 1.3 million native animals killed in 2019, certain species experienced an uptick in kills. According to the report, last year federal officials intentionally killed 381 gray wolves and 5 endangered Mexican gray wolves.

In addition to wolves, the agency intentionally killed:

  • 62,537 adult coyotes
  • 434 black bears
  • 276 mountain lions
  • 2,527 foxes
  • and many more

Why? Because of their perceived impact on the livestock industry.

Yet a report by the Humane Society of the United States found that farmers and ranchers lose nine times more cattle and sheep to health, weather, birthing and theft problems than to all predators combined.

Funded with millions of taxpayer dollars, and without modern scientific support, this program uses cruel and often archaic methods to capture and kill wild animals that come between ranchers or farmers and their profits.

Emerging science indicates that lethal management, and especially indiscriminate killing of native carnivores, is often ineffective at managing conflict and mitigating economic damage caused by wildlife. Indiscriminate killing can even exacerbate conflict.