Millions of Taxpayer Dollars are Used to Secretly Massacre Wildlife, Family Pets, Threatened Species

By Veronique Greenwood | May 10, 2012 1:10 pm

Nearly a million coyotes have been killed by Wildlife Services since 2000.

In the western US, conflict between ranchers and wild animals who might harm their stock is an old, old story. But in 1915, the federal government started helping ranchers and farmers out by killing animals suspected of attacking livestock, eventually forming an agency known as Animal Damage Control. Today, though, the agency has morphed into something that appalled many of the readers who learned of its activities last week in the Sacramento Bee.

When Wildlife Services, as the group is now called, finds a bald eagle, a family’s beloved husky, or a young badger in a trap laid for coyotes or prairie dogs, its back broken or leg snapped, it is shot and its body buried. Its death at the hands of federal employees is rarely, if ever, reported as required. This happens thousands of times a year, on top of all the killings of wildlife that are the agency’s intended targets.

The Bee’s evidence against Wildlife Services’s claims of killing only when necessary, assembled in three investigative articles, is damning. The series is worth reading for yourself, along with the follow-up articles that paint a portrait of an agency out of control, but the Bee summarizes its findings thus:

• With steel traps, wire snares and poison, agency employees have accidentally killed more than 50,000 animals since 2000 that were not problems, including federally protected golden and bald eagles; more than 1,100 dogs, including family pets; and several species considered rare or imperiled by wildlife biologists.

• Since 1987, at least 18 employees and several members of the public have been exposed to cyanide when they triggered spring-loaded cartridges laced with poison meant to kill coyotes. They survived – but 10 people have died and many others have been injured in crashes during agency aerial gunning operations since 1979.

• A growing body of science has found the agency’s war against predators, waged to protect livestock and big game, is altering ecosystems in ways that diminish biodiversity, degrade habitat and invite disease.

Head over to the Sacramento Bee to read the rest.

Image courtesy of docentjoyce / flickr

  • kevin

    bastards! yet another gov program becomes a devouring monster

  • Joe

    Here in Kansas coyotes are a dangerous pest. There are way to many of them and nothing eats them. Care must be taken to avoid harming other critters at the same time when controling them. They will eat everything in sight if nothing is done.

  • Lukas

    Why is this news? Predatory animals in the wild and encroaching development must be kept in check, or they will start devouring children, pets, elderly, etc. I hate it when animal rights weenies start whining about it.

  • Drea

    While it is very true that coyotes are a significant threat to livestock, I fail to understand why the agency does not simply use humane traps to resolve the issue of unintentionally killing ‘other’ animals. Even in these financially pressing times, Wildlife Services cannot legitimately claim lack of available grants or funds to to do so. Aside from additional grants that can be applied for, There are a number of well recognized private sector agencies, that have previously partnered with federal wildlife, agriculture & environmental agencies on other projects, that can be solicited to help out. Some can even provide or help organize area volunteers to monitor humane traps… (though, in rural areas, ranchers and farmers themselves can be asked to monitor any humane traps near their properties). In Colorado, bears are a significant growing threat to residents in many suburban communities, Yet the policy ‘there’ is to sedate, tag and relocate them whenever possible… which actually costs the federal, state agencies and tax payers a great deal more money than the simple laying of humane traps near farms and ranches.


  • Iain

    Got a coyote problem? Hire The Roadrunner!
    But seriously, don’t use traps, they get too many ‘by’ catches. Hire a hunter, use trained dogs. Only take the creature you need. Traps are like (fishing) draggers. Catch a few of what you want, kill a lot of ‘by product’ for no good reason.

    @ julianpenrod
    trying to “argue” that chemtrails don’t exist

    That is true. There are no chemtrails, they are contrails, short for condensation trails. Look it up, get educated. When a statement you make is patently false, especially when stemming from ignorance, your whole argument goes out the window. You become background noise.

  • odin

    Turn it into a sport. Kinda like fox-hunting.

  • Jenk

    or bow fishing asian carp!!

  • Hey You

    @ julianpenrod

    >rolls eyes<

    oy vey

    • Veronique Greenwood

      Sorry about that, folks–off-topic/trolling comments don’t usually get through. Back to your regularly scheduled programming…

  • Kaviani

    Cyanide? No, there’s something much more toxic in those collars.

    Yes, our agricultrual laws are still half in the 1800s.

  • Andrew


    did you read the article?? I think the main concern is the massacre of endangered / protected species, and family pets. The coyotes aren’t exactly being missed by anyone.

  • Brian Too

    Coyote populations are unnaturally high due to the extirpation of wolves. Wolves are highly intolerant of coyotes and will drive them off or kill them.

    In areas where wolves have been reintroduced, coyotes retreat and take up a much smaller % of the predator ecosystem. Of course if you hate coyotes, replacing them with wolves doesn’t seem like a good choice.

    Which raises a good question. Why has the government taken on a role in predator control? This would seem to be taking on a responsibility that logically ought to be the ranchers issue. I’m not sure the country owes ranchers a predator-free environment. Maybe there was a time when this was important and necessary, but now?

  • Iain

    How does one end a Government Project that didn’t have it’s own end included in the inception?
    You can’t!
    Farmer John and Rancher Roy both had problems with wildlife killing their animals. The gov’t wanted to buy their votes and got involved. Later various austerity measures were introduced and instead of killing targeted species it was cheaper to set traps and kill lots of things as a byproduct.

  • jimbow

    If the ranchers and farmers have to kill them they will poison bait, this will kill species that are not a pest too. They not have enough time to do it with guns.

  • Cathy

    I think part of the reason it’s handled by the feds and not by the ranchers or by the individual states is because the animals don’t care if they crossed state lines or onto private property, but the humans have to take it into consideration.

  • JMead

    The Earth will rejoice when a new generation comes that doesn’t believe in killing life that happens to be inconvenient. The predators belong and the day will come when they have their place free and in the wild.

  • Ashley Cakes

    JMead- Exactly. The fact that farmers/ranchers and our government thought it was too much of an inconvenience to live with the wildlife and find other ways to cope is reprehensible. Coyotes are NOT that big a deal. I live in Texas where they run rampant and I know of nobody who feels compelled to go out and kill them. Ridiculous. Watch dogs keep them away. Donkeys (believe it or not) keep them away. Well-constructed fences keep them away. To go out an kill them is such a waste of life, time, and money.
    And as for Lukas’s comment: Really? Coyotes devouring children and the elderly? You obviously know nothing about this animal and your ignorance is extremely obvious.

  • Mr. X

    Coyotes also eat cats and small dogs (pets). Here in Santa Barbara people are warned to keep their pets indoors at night, it’s a big issue around here. Over the past 10 years I have lost most likely 2 cats to coyotes, and my dog (a Jack Russell terrier) got attacked, and I live in the middle of the city. As such, it’s not just ranchers that want coyotes dead. If you think controlling Coyote populations is some hidden government conspiracy, your wrong. All too many people are afraid of coyotes and don’t want them roaming their neighborhoods at night. They call 911 and rant at city council meetings. They demand the government to put an end to it. Try to explain the value of Coyotes to a group of enraged soccer moms that have lost cats and want to protect their children. Right.. As for me, I like coyotes. I like to hear them howl at night and I get excited when I see one. But no matter, the big issue is this: As long as populations of humans increase, then the biodiversity of nature will be affected. But most of us will keep breeding and blame the government for our growing problems and demand solutions from the government. If you think we can keep overpopulating this planet and still live in harmony with nature you are dead wrong. Coyotes nor the government are the problem, WE are. Please, stop breeding people. And if you don’t agree with that, then we are doomed to destroy this planet, so you might as well do whatever you want. Sad, but true. Have a nice day.


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