Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Animal Damage Control Act, which codified the federal government’s authority to eradicate wildlife for the benefit of the livestock industry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture now implements the Act through the deceptively named Wildlife Services agency, and their purported mission is “to improve the coexistence of people and wildlife.” But Wildlife Services really spends much of their time killing unwanted animals that pose a threat to sheep and cattle.
In 2009, Wildlife Services killed more than 100,000 mammalian carnivores, including foxes, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and wolves. These native animals were shot from airplanes and helicopters, poisoned in their dens, snared in traps and euthanized.
These drastic measures are not only costly, they’re generally ineffective in reducing losses and promoting long-term “coexistence.” Meanwhile, there are extremely effective nonlethal tools at their disposal that never see the light of day.
Each year Wildlife Services receives tens of millions of our taxpayer dollars for the purpose of “livestock protection.” More often than not, this money is only paying to kill our native carnivores. And many of the animals are killed “preventatively” in the fall and winter, before they’ve preyed on any livestock. To make matters worse, much of the killing is done on federal lands, not private property.
It’s time to hold Wildlife Services accountable. The unchecked killing of America’s native wildlife has gone on long enough. After eight decades of running amok, Wildlife Services needs to finally shape up or ship out.
If Congress is serious about fiscal discipline, revamping this draconian program would be a great place to start.