USDA’s Wildlife Services killed 4 million animals in 2013

For years, the massive toll of wild animals exterminated by the federal government as a service to everything from airports to ranches has bounced up and down like a yo-yo. Last year it was up again.

The more than 4 million animals shot, poisoned, snared or trapped by the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in fiscal year 2013 included 75,326 coyotes, 866 bobcats, 528 river otters, 3,700 foxes, 12,186 prairie dogs, 973 red-tailed hawks, 419 black bears and at least three eagles, golden and bald.

Though there’s a list of animals killed, there’s little data showing the cause for each killing, the methods used and the reasons behind mistakes that lead to massive kills of animals that aren’t targeted.

At least two members of Congress have called Wildlife Services secret and opaque for failing to provide more information, and there are mounting calls for an investigation into how it operates.

Wildlife Services says that it responds to requests by government agencies nationwide and works to “resolve human/wildlife conflicts” in a strategic way. “As wildlife damage increases, requests for assistance also increase,” said spokeswoman Carol Bannerman. Ranchers and farmers pay half the agency’s costs of killing animals that they view as a threat.

But the agency provided no explanation for why the kill total can be 1.5 million in one year and 5 million the next.

Near the turn of the century, it hit a staggering 4 million. Two years later, in 2001, it fell to about 1.5 million and stayed relatively low for six years. But in 2008, the number of kills rocketed to 5 million before trending downward to 3 million over the next four years.

Now it’s back up, well past 4 million in the most recent count, and critics are pressing for a better explanation for why.

Wildlife Services’ primary purpose is to eradicate invasive creatures introduced from other parts of the world. They include greedy feral hogs, giant swamp rats called nutria, big aggressive Argentine lizards called tegus and swarms of hungry starlings that destroy the habitats of animals native to the United States.

But the agency also kills native animals en masse, sometimes based solely on a homeowner’s or farmer’s perception of a threat.

Birds that invade airports and swipe cattle feed at farms contribute to the high totals. Non-native European starlings, sparrows, pigeons and such accounted for 87 percent of animals killed. Birds in general are singled out as a nuisance.

The rise in the number of exterminated animals came despite growing scrutiny and protest.

Last December, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition demanding that the agency explain the exact reasons why it makes each kill of a native animal, for whose benefit and the methods used. The petition called Wildlife Services “a rogue agency” that was “out of control.”

At the time, a Wildlife Services spokeswoman, Lyndsay Cole, responded that it kills birds at 800 airports nationwide so they won’t gum up the works of airplanes. Cole said the department kills some animals that are a threat to endangered animals. Other animals, such as raccoons, are eliminated as part of the National Rabies Management Program.

Cole said the agency is guided by a science-based decision-making model. For example, wolves are killed to “lessen the negative impacts of expanding wolf populations,” even though those populations are still recovering from earlier government programs that aimed to exterminate them.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) has railed against the secret methods of Wildlife Services, at one time calling it “one of the most opaque and obstinate departments I’ve dealt with.” DeFazio has asked to know what goes into poisons used by the agency that are a danger to people and harmless animals but hasn’t gotten an answer. “We’re really not sure what they’re doing.”

Wildlife Services has been around under different government names for more than a century. It essentially cleared away wildlife for America’s westward expansion.

In a 2012 report, Wildlife Services relied on a National Agricultural Statistics Service survey to show that wildlife caused $944 million in agricultural damage in 2001.

Atwood dismissed the “science-based model” Cole mentioned as a document that “basically says they can use whatever methods at their disposal whenever they want.”

Her organization’s petition called on the USDA and the Obama administration to develop a policy based on ecological science, showing how removing animals from the wild affects the natural balance of the habitats.

In the Northeast, for example, the elimination of red wolves led to a proliferation of coyotes, which the wolves rarely tolerate in their range. Coyotes push away foxes, which prey on deer mice, which spread ticks.

The execution of wolves and other predators, such as bears, allows deer to proliferate across the country, destroying trees that serve as habitat for other animals.

Atwood described Wildlife Services’ work as “a staggering killing campaign, bankrolled by taxpayers” and happening “beyond the view of most Americans.”

adoptpets: This is another reason why it is so important to go vegan. The government kills wildlife to protect the agriculture industry that is going to kill the animals for food. This makes me so mad! And what possible damage can river otters be doing? 



Moment heartbroken goat was reunited with his donkey best friend after he refused to eat for SIX days when they were separated

  • Mr G the Goat and the burro Jellybean spent 10 years living under the care of a hoarder
  • When the two farm animals were rescued, they were sent to live at different sanctuaries
  • After arriving at Animal Place sanctuary, Mr G refused to eat for four straight days 
  • The sanctuary decided to bring Jellybean to live there, hoping to coax Mr G out of his depression
  • The plan worked and Mr G began eating within 20 minutes of his friend’s arrival
  • The shelter says neither animal will be put up for adoption 
  • Mr G and Jellybean will instead live out the rest of their lives together at the 600-acre sanctuary

On a warm May day, a 10-yr old goat named Mr. G arrived to Animal Place’s Rescue Ranch adoption center. For a decade he lived with a burro on the property of a woman who could barely care for herself, let alone the dozens of dogs she hoarded and three barnyard animals.

Animal Place was one of two sanctuaries offering to help the goat and burro when they were confiscated…but they could only take in the goat, and the other sanctuary could only take the burro. The two were separated in order to save their lives. They didn’t know the depth of their bond.

Mr. G arrived stressed from his eight hour transport. Rescue Ranch staff allowed him his solitude. Mr. G refused to eat. He spent his days lying in a corner of his stall, barely lifting his head. Staff tried every treat – molasses, sweet grain, apples, wetting down food…nothing worked. Staff physically moved Mr. G to ensure he didn’t spend too long lying down.

After health exams revealed nothing physically, it became evident Mr. G was in mourning, assuming his friend Jellybean had disappeared forever. He was inconsolable. After four days of starving himself, drastic actions were taken to help Mr. G.

It was time for Jellybean to come home.

It would take an additional three days but soon Mr. G and Jellybean were reunited. When Jellybean entered Mr. G’s stall, he could not believe his eyes. In fact, he did a double-take! It was only when he smelled Jellybean’s unique scent that Mr. G realized the truth – his dearest friend had returned!

Mr. G erupted from his prone position, snorting and inhaling Jellybean’s presence. He rushed after her into their outdoor pasture. The magical moment came when Mr. G began eating from Jellybean’s bowl!

Never doubt the depth of emotions other animals possess. Mr. G’s grief was as deep and mysterious as a human’s. His joy at reuniting with Jellybean was as beautiful and inspiring as a human’s.

Instead of placing the two up for adoption, Animal Place welcomed Mr. G and Jellybean as permanent residents at their 600-acre sanctuary in Grass Valley, CA. Their story will live on, inspiring and teaching visitors about nonhuman emotions.

Want to know how you can help animals like Jellybean and Mr. G?

Share the video! Mr. G and Jellybean have a powerful story to tell. Help them out by sharing their video showing that other animals experience a wide range of emotions similar to humans, dogs, and cats.

Go Vegan: The most powerful act you can take is recognizing that Mr. G and Jellybean have value outside of any human desire to eat or use them for human purposes. You can reinforce that belief by adopting a vegan lifestyle.Start by signing up for their Sanctuary Sweets recipe list! Encourage your friends and family to do the same!

Help them get a new trailer! You may have noticed the rusty trailer Jellybean arrived in…they could use your financial support in purchasing a new one to replace the 25-yr-old trailer they are currently using!

Volunteer and donate: Support the efforts of your favorite animal rights organization through volunteer or financial efforts. Run a marathon and ask people to sponsor you. Host a bake sale and send the proceeds to your favorite group. Donate your time. And whenever possible, give financially. All efforts matter.



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Guardians of The Voiceless are a team of volunteers in India driven to create a cruelty free generation. They care for the less fortunate in India, animals and children.

Founder Pankaj Arora works tirelessly to help all animals in need and spread his cruelty free philosophy to all. The children who work with him come from poverty as well. Through his program these kids are learning to be compassionate to others and hopefully how to help themselves and their families. Pankaj is one of the most amazing people working in animal rights today - and it’s time you learn about him.

They run entirely off of donations and their own money. They provide medical care, housing and vet visits to any animal in danger. Pankaj himself is vegan, as is most of his team. 

Please check out their Facebook page, and consider a donation to help the children and animals in need. For Paypal you can use They also accept donations of basic medical supplies. 

Pankaj and his team are dreaming of opening a shelter, but they can’t do it without your donation. I donated $100 and ANYTHING you can spare will make a difference. Even if you cannot donate, please share this post! These beautiful people need your help to make the word a better place for all. 



Growing up and even now I have learned in depth about wild animals and other creatures. But when I learned about farm animals and other commonly eaten animals I was taught “milk comes from cows!” “chickens lay eggs!” very basic facts about how we consume and use them. When really these animals are so interesting and are not just “dumb” or “food” animals. People disconnect themselves from these animals so they feel less guilty when eating them.