Wildlife Services via Sacramento Bee
Traps such as these are used to kill animals, as are various other methods, the Sacramento Bee reported in 2012. The statistics in the series are being used to buttress the case of environmentalists suing to protect wildlife.

Sacramento Bee Series Quoted in Lawsuits Exposes U.S.'s Wanton Killing of Wildlife


Recent lawsuits against the federal government’s wildlife control agencies are pinpointing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s killing machine known as Wildlife Services, and many of the statistics cited come out of a Sacramento Bee article from 2012, one of the few pieces of investigative journalism that examines this topic.

RELATED: Lawsuits Challenge USDA's Wildlife Services' Killing of Wolves, Other Animals

The most recent lawsuit challenges a federal plan to cull wolves in Washington State and targets the “U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services Wildlife Services, and its top officers in the Western Region and Washington state,” according to Courthouse News Service.

“But the groups say Wildlife Services staff are incompetent killers,” Courthouse News Service reported. “They cite a series of Sacramento Bee articles exposing financial and ethical problems with the agency, including an incident in which an employee posted photographs online of his dogs attacking a coyote caught in a trap.”

The Sacramento Bee series opens with an anecdote about the accidental killing of a golden eagle in a trap meant for something else, and the statistics go downhill from there.

“Since 2000, its employees have killed nearly a million coyotes, mostly in the West,” wrote reporter Tom Knudson in April 2012, in the first of three articles. “They have destroyed millions of birds, from nonnative starlings to migratory shorebirds, along with a colorful menagerie of more than 300 other species, including black bears, beavers, porcupines, river otters, mountain lions and wolves.”

Most of the time, the Sacramento Bee reported, authorities “have officially revealed little or no detail about where the creatures were killed, or why,” but that the newspaper’s investigation “found the agency's practices to be indiscriminate, at odds with science, inhumane and sometimes illegal.”

Moreover, agency employees have killed more than 50,000 non-problem animals since 2000, the newspaper said, “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.”

The carnage doesn’t stop there, since even employees and some members of the public have occasionally been exposed to cyanide when they accidentally sprang traps, as well, the Sacramento Bee said. Some of them have died. 

Not only that, but also the killing may not even be meeting its purported goals.

“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,” Knudson revealed.

Read The Killing Agency: Wildlife Services' Brutal Methods Leave a Trail of Animal Death in the Sacramento Bee.

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