For Immediate Release
Amy Atwood, (503) 504-5660
2 Million Native Animals Killed by Rogue Wildlife Program in 2013, a 30 Percent Increase Over Previous Year
Bears, Wolves, Foxes Among Those Killed by Gunners, Poison, Traps
WASHINGTON - New data from the highly secretive arm of the Agriculture Department known as “Wildlife Services” shows it killed more than 2 million native animals during the past fiscal year, including wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions foxes, eagles and other animals deemed pests by powerful agricultural, livestock and other special interests. The increase of almost a half-million animals since fiscal year 2012 represents a 29 percent increase in the program’s killing and ends an overall downward trend since 2008.
Despite mounting pressure for reform, the federal program’s latest kill report includes more than 320 gray wolves and one endangered Mexican wolf, 75,326 coyotes, 419 black bears, 866 bobcats, 528 river otters, 3,706 foxes, three golden eagles and a bald eagle. The program killed 12,186 black-tailed prairie dogs and destroyed more than 30,000 of their dens, representing vast increases from the previous year.
“Rather than dialing back in the face of criticism, the program that has the nerve to call itself ‘Wildlife Services’ seems to be putting its foot on the pedal in its systematic slaughter of America’s wild animals,” said Amy Atwood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has petitioned to reform the program. “These numbers pull back the veil on a staggering killing campaign, bankrolled by taxpayers, that’s happening every day beyond the view of most Americans.”
The new data reveal the federal program has increased its killing despite a growing public outcry, an ongoing investigation by the Agriculture Department’s inspector general, and calls for reform by scientists, members of Congress and nongovernmental organizations.
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While many of these animals were targeted on behalf of livestock grazers or other agricultural interests, many were killed unintentionally. Insiders have revealed that the program kills many more animals than it reports.
“Wildlife Services has long been out of step with the values of Americans, and the new figures make clear it has no interest in changing,” said Atwood. “These appalling new numbers show that Wildlife Services is simply thumbing its nose at the growing number of Americans demanding an end to business as usual at Wildlife Services.”
Just since 1996 Wildlife Services has shot, poisoned and strangled by snare more than 26 million native animals.
Last December the Center and allies submitted a comprehensive petition to the Agriculture Department demanding new rules to reform the program and transition it from an entitlement program for powerful special interests to an program that is transparent, accountable, in compliance with federal environmental law, and significantly reduces the number of native and nontarget animals killed in its activities. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded in January and stated that he is looking into the issues raised by the Center’s petition. Read more at StopWildlifeKilling.org.
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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.