by Laura Dattaro, April 14, 2015
When the US government spends money on wildlife, it’s usually to protect it. But there’s also an agency tasked with killing wild animals — and last year it took out nearly three million of them. Wildlife Services, which operates under the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is tasked with responding to conflicts between humans and wildlife and to manage invasive populations.
But critics say the agency’s methods are crude and not in line with the latest conservation science. “The whole approach of just getting rid of the perceived problem by killing it is something that this agency has been doing for well over 100 years,” Bradley Bergstrom, a biologist at Valdosta State University, told VICE News.
In 2014, Wildlife Services killed more than 2.7 million animals, 1.3 million of which were native, noninvasive species. They included 570 black bears, 322 gray wolves, 61,702 coyotes, 2,930 foxes, and 305 mountain lions. The agency also killed three bald eagles and five golden eagles using methods like cyanide capsules, neck snares, and foot traps. Accidental kills are a frequent byproduct of the agency’s methods. Of the 454 river otters killed, for example, 390 were unintentional, likely during attempts to kill beavers, which can flood property with their dams……
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