Tuesday, 17 June 2014

US government called to account after agency kills 4 million animals in 2013

Critics call for more transparency over reasons for massive culls of 'damaging' species by federal Wildlife Services

Darryl Fears for the Washington Post

Guardian Weekly, Monday 16 June 2014 10.00 BST

For years, the massive toll of wild animals exterminated by the US federal government as a service to everything from airports to ranches has bounced up and down like a yo-yo.

Near the turn of the century, the number of kills reached 4 million. Two years later, in 2001, it fell to about 1.5 million and stayed relatively low for six years. But in 2008, the figure rocketed to 5 million before trending downward to 3 million over the next four years. Now it's back up, past 4 million in the most recent count, and critics are pressing the US Department of Agriculture outfit that does the killing to do a better job of explaining why.

Over 15 years, at least 40 million animals have been shot, poisoned, snared and trapped by Wildlife Services, which says only that the exterminations are a service to those who "experience damage from wildlife each year". There's little data showing the cause for each killing, the exact methods used and the reasons behind mistakes that lead to massive kills of animals that aren't targeted.

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