USDA Kills Another 4 million animals, including 477 dogs and 1,991 feral cats


The Wildlife Services unit killed 89,300 coyotes in FY2008 and 81,711 in FY2009..

You know how Americans are appalled whenever China or Iraq primitively rounds up dogs and shoots them? Well, we do that, too. On purpose. Federal agents from the USDA’s “Wildlife Services” unit quietly released their FY2009 stats this week and among the meticulously categorized 4.1 million animals killed were 477 dogs and 1,991 feral cats. The federal government shot 157 dogs and 396 cats to death.

And it’s not just in the yahoo states out west, either (though Texas and Arizona lead the nation in federal dog-killing). The USDA somehow insinuated itself into dog situations in 32 states, shooting two dogs in Ohio and 30 in California. And it wasn’t because they feared they were rabid, either. They only tested 14 dogs for rabies.

The federal government–the Obama administration–took 12 months to tally all the wolves and songbirds in FY2009, which ended Sept. 30, 2009. With mind-boggling bureaucratic detail, the agency catalogs the damage these animals threatened  to crops, airports, livestock, golf courses and “clothing.” It records the methods of their deaths: 334,226 shot, 47 by jabstick,  3 million or so birds by poison. They’re still using M-44 cyanide canisters to kill 13,355 animals. President Richard Nixon outlawed using poisons on federal land for predator control by a 1972 executive order, but  Ford changed it.

Still the USDA took no time to explain what they’re doing. Often their elaborate categories seem designed to thwart investigation by citizens: myriad categories of using “DRC-1339,” but no explanation of why they are different. the poisons various explanations. There’s a huge litany of damage caused by wildlife, but no effort to connect the cases. They simply classify one Idaho unintentional killing as “non-wildlife.” Was it a person? Yet another dog? A chupacabra?

And even then they didn’t bother to announce it. They posted it quietly on their website and WildEarth Guardians noticed.

The federal government spent $57 million on the program, which has its roots in the widely discredited predator control movement of a century ago. States, local governments and businesses spent another $64 million. The USDA also used tax dollars to scare off 27,651,169 birds and animals.


Birds are high on their hit list. Coyotes are their most-hated mammal.

Here’s what the USDA Wildlife Services unit killed last year:

  • 1,259,716 Starlings
  • 1,046,120 Brown-Headed Cowbirds
  • 96,297 Pigeons
  • 93,210 Common Grackles
  • 81,777 Coyotes
  • 33,803 Feral Pigs
  • 27,292 Beavers
  • 24,529 Canada Geese
  • 23,008 Squirrels: 164 Gray, 154 Fox, 2,786 California Ground, 19,354 other ground squirrels, round-tailed 445, Red 4, Rock 22, Western Gray 79
  • 17,395 Double-Crested Cormorants
  • 16,917 Mourning Doves
  • 16,414 Great-Tailed Grackles
  • 13,292 Raccoons
  • 12,698 Prairie Dogs
  • 10,588 Crows
  • 8,292 Striped Skunks
  • 4,716 White-Tailed Deer (of which 113 were captive)
  • 4702 Foxes : 36 Arctic, 2,287 Gray, 21 Kit, 2,345 Red, 13 Swift
  • 4,581 Cardinals
  • 4,566 Coots
  • 2,910 Nutria
  • 2,277 Possum
  • 2,528 Mallards
  • 1,995 Marmots
  • 1,991 Feral Cats
  • 1,775 Bobcats
  • 1,766 Muskrats
  • 1,425 Black Spiny-Tailed Iguanas
  • 808 hawks: 45 Coopers, 15 Ferringous, Northern Harrier 66, Red-Shouldered 17, Red-Tailed 593, Rough-Legged 22, Sharp-Shinned 10, Swainson`s 40
  • 606 Captive Elk
  • 571 Otters
  • 569 Badgers
  • 484 Great Blue Herons
  • 480 Gray Wolves
  • 477 DOGS Does it make them better or worse that the USDA killed 52 of those dogs unintentionally? Dogs killed by USDA misplaced neck snares: 19 in TX; 3 in ID, 1 each in LA, NV, OK, OR, WV. Foot snares killed 2 in MN, 2 in TX, 1 in OK. The controversial M-44 cyanide capsule killed 11 dogs in TX, 5 in OK, 2 in WV, 1 in WY.
  • 443 Black Bears
  • 274 Porcupines
  • 337 American Kestrels
  • 342 Mountain Lions
  • 199 owls: Barn 199, Barred 2, Burrowing 6, Great Horned 16, Short-Eared 19,
  • 175 Javelina
  • 100 Turtles (just listed as “assorted.” All we know is they’re not painted, snapping or musk)
  • 65 White Pelican
  • 59 Monitor Lizards
  • 47 Mockingbirds
  • 33 Caracaras (a bird in Texas)
  • 17 Osprey–all shot on purpose
  • 6 Purple Martins (they scared away 79,000)
  • 5 Sandhill Crane
  • 3 Tufted Puffins
  • 3 Golden Eagles (accidentally, in neck snare in WY)
  • 2 Pacific Loons
  • 2 Sheep
  • 2 Ancient Murrelets
  • 1 Bald Eagle (accidentally in a foot trap in AK)
  • They shot 1 bison on purpose in Indiana.

    The UDSA doesn’t really make any effort to explain their stats to the American public. It looks more like they’ve put in a lot of raw, obscure codes, hoping people will just give up trying to figure them out. There’s a disclaimer that the method cited might be just for how they captured the animal, not killed it. Wildlife Services agents in Arizona, for example, say they killed 560 coyotes by fixed arm aircraft. Ok, so you figure they must have really shot them, right? But then they also count 241 coyotes by firearm. Agents in California claim to have killed one dog by “spotlight.”

    The shot 334,226 animals.

    The USDA killed a total of 2,140,978 birds by a technique it calls “DRC-1339-Staging Areas.” What you need some kind of explanation for that, city slicker? In a separate paper, the USDA says that the chemical, developed by Purina, causes irreversible kidney and heart damage and kills birds in 1-3 days. They describe it as fairly wonderful, with little risk to any other animal. Odd, then, that Idaho explains that the poison is so awful, you can’t use it around anything that has to do with crops, livestock, people or bodies of water. It’s only for “urban roosts.”   They worry that the bald eagle sometimes eats this stuff. And they have big bold warning: “POST THE AREA WITH WARNING SIGNS DURING THE BAITING OPERATION IF BAIT IS LEFT UNATTENDED OR IF CHILDREN, PETS OR DOMESTIC ANIMALS HAVE ACCESS TO THE BAITING SITE.” But then they use dog food as bait. Or french fries.

    Oddly, the USDA goes on to say that they use the same stuff in feedlots–that’s where factory farms fatten up animals before slaughter. That’s how they killed another 1,121,587 birds, including 372,900 starlings in Washington state, 100,000 starlings in New York.

    Boy, those 7,291,554 birds that were scared off by “gas exploders” had it pretty easy.

    47 unfortunate animals out west died by the “jabstick.” Are we employing mean 14-year-old boys?


    They meticulously keep track of the complaints they get about wildlife. They seriously recorded 7 occurrences of damage to clothing or threats of damage to clothing. They jumped right on threats to 487 golf courses and 7 privately stocked fishing pools. There were 4,893 instances when the federal government got involved in wildlife damage to landscaping.

    Most, they say, are for agriculture, the department’s raison d’etre.  Most threats were to livestock, but they did record 14 threates to emu, 1 to alpaca, 16 to pigeons. Somebody raising what sounds like canned hunt game animals complained to the federal government 103 times about wild animals.

    They claim 30,000 threats to human safety (plus another 4,000 to airports and other transportation) and 29 to human health. What exactly were these menacing animals? Well, little taxpayer, you don’t need to know the details.

    What’s really peculiar is that in some instances they will say, go out and kill pigeons or swift foxes. But this chart shows damage reported to a natural resource. So, in other words, they are willing to go kill foxes, then go kill another animal because it kills foxes.

    They also tested 108,067 animals for 42 diseases–though they do count among those, I swear, “disease, non-specific” in geese. But did they tell us how those tests turned out? Like every state does? Nope.
    Read the New York Magazine story on the topic
    Where to Go to See Wolves (before the feds shoot them all)

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