Dodges Disclosure on Animal Killing
Agency’s Budget Shrouded from Public
WASHINGTON, DC –
According to records released today by WildEarth Guardians, “Wildlife
Services,” the ironically-named branch of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, killed more than four million wild animals and pets in 2009
while spending $121,039,763. Last month, WildEarth Guardians filed a Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking to track how this money is spent,
but the agency continually sidesteps public scrutiny.
Wildlife Services is comprised of bands of secret agents. One group, the
assassins, operates on our national forests and kills millions of the
public’s wildlife using helicopters, guns, poisons, traps, and hounds. The
second, the artful dodgers, play shell games in the dark with the public’s
money,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians.
Wildlife Services reported it killed 4.1 million animals and “destroyed”
18,000 more. That total includes a staggering 27,314 beavers; 988,577
blackbirds; and 114,522 mammalian carnivores (e.g., 1,775 bobcats, 82,097
coyotes, 480 wolves, 571 river otters, and 443 black bears.)
in Idaho and Montana are now listed as federally endangered.
response to WildEarth Guardians’ lawsuit, Wildlife Services and its parent
agency, the USDA’s Animal and Health Inspection Service, stated that it
could not answer the group’s simple request for line-item spending data.
They agency stated that it tracks expenses using two different data bases:
one that is “operational” and the other “financial”, but the accounting
systems are “not interactive.” Thus, Wildlife Services claims it does not
know how much it spends on its controversial operations such as shooting
coyotes and wolves from helicopters. The agency further stated: “Wildlife
Services does not have a managerial need for financial data at this finite
“Federal agencies must be fiscally accountable to the
public,” stated Steve Sugarman, WildEarth Guardians’ attorney. “It’s time
for Wildlife Services to stop playing shell games and show the public what
they’re doing with our money in the light of day,” he added.
Services is biologically harmful and unselective for species killed. Many
conservation biologists have noted that Wildlife Services’ carnivore
eradications amount to a “sledgehammer” approach to wildlife management
because of the breadth of the extermination. Wildlife Services uses
indiscriminate and deadly means to slay wildlife—many are killed by
mistake—even rare species such as kit foxes, swift foxes, and river otters.
“Of the 571 river otters it killed in 2009, Wildlife Services notes that
84% were killed accidentally. This is simply not tolerable: river otters are
sorely lacking from many river systems,” said Keefover-Ring.
Wildlife Services’ 2009 Annual Tables
Download Report: War on
Wildlife: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Wildlife Services”
See the Department of Justice’s Letter on Behalf of Wildlife Services to
See the Complaint filed in the Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit