New Map Shows Kill Data in All States
WASHINGTON— Texas, Oregon, Minnesota and California are the states where the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services killed the most black bears, mountain lions, wolves and bobcats in 2015, according to a new Center for Biological Diversity analysis. The secretive federal program killed 3.2 million animals throughout the nation last year, mostly on behalf of the livestock industry and other agribusinesses.
View an interactive map of state-by-state 2014 and 2015 Wildlife Services kill data for black bears, mountain lions, wolves and bobcats, four key species of carnivores.
“Despite increasing calls for an end to the senseless slaughter of our wildlife it continues unchecked with no oversight,” said Michael Robinson of the Center. “This outdated, shortsighted killing scheme defies reason and science — when Wildlife Services massacred more than 600 bobcats and almost 17,000 coyotes in Texas last year it simply increased the number of rodents.”
Wildlife Services also killed 23 mountain lions in Texas last year even though the number of these big cats in the state may be declining and a border wall now separates Lone Star cougars from those in Mexico.
Oregon also made the shortlist of states in which Wildlife Services kills rare carnivores, largely on the basis of the killing of 193 black bears and 91 mountain lions. While mountain lions are killed on behalf of the livestock industry, black bears die because timber companies resent that they sometimes strip the bark off trees to feed on insects or sap.
In California, Wildlife Services killed 121 bears, 80 mountain lions and 15 bobcats.
Minnesota led the field in the number of wolves killed by Wildlife Services last year: 220. The agency killed 70 wolves in Idaho, 54 in Wyoming and 31 in Montana.
Wolves remain on the endangered species list in Wyoming, though with a loophole allowing for their destruction on behalf of the livestock industry, and are a ‘threatened’ species in Minnesota.
“It’s repugnant that taxpayers throughout the country have to pay for the cruel destruction of animals on behalf of special interests,” said Robinson. “Wildlife Services resists reform and day by day is proving its incompatibility with conservation.”
USDA’s Wildlife Services program began in 1915 when Congress appropriated $125,000 to the Bureau of Biological Survey for “destroying wolves, coyotes, and other animals injurious to agriculture and animal husbandry” on national forests and other public lands.
By the 1920s scientists and fur trappers were robustly criticizing the Biological Survey’s massive poisoning of wildlife, and in response, in 1928, the program officially renounced “extermination” as its goal. Nevertheless it proceeded to exterminate wolves, grizzly bears, black-footed ferrets and other animals from most of their remaining ranges in the years to follow. The program was blocked from completely exterminating these species through the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act.
In 1997, after several other name changes, the deceptive name “Wildlife Services” was inaugurated in place of “Biological Survey.”