Animal kills by federal agency more than double
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN – 1 day ago
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The number of animals poisoned, shot or snared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than doubled last year, and environmentalists who are critical of the killings are renewing their effort to cut the program's funding.
The USDA's Wildlife Services division killed more than 4.9 million animals during the 2008 fiscal year, some of them pests that threaten crops. That's more than double the 2.4 million animals killed the previous year, but the agency contends the increase is due to more accurate counting methods.
Wildlife Services, which released the annual death count last week, reported that 90 percent of animals killed in 2008 included crows, blackbirds, magpies and three species of invasive birds: European starlings, sparrows and pigeons.
Other animals included the nonnative Coqui frog in Hawaii, gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains and jackrabbits in New Mexico.
Agency spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said the agency is charged by Congress to respond to individuals and government agencies that are having problems with wildlife, including invasive and nonnative species. For example, she said the agency killed more than three dozen Gambian rats in Florida last year to ensure that the large rodents would not damage fruit and vegetable crops.
In other areas of the country, starlings that were eating the feed at dairies were removed. Bannerman said milk production can drop if dairy cows are not getting enough protein and that bird droppings can harbor bacteria and viruses that can make livestock sick. Read More
Contrary to the picture that some try to paint about wildlife control, they don’t go out and randomly kill them. This funding needs to be in place to protect people and property. The select removal of wildlife allows for just that. If the government isn’t allowed to control this then people will take it upon themselves to do so. People wouldn't tolerate dangerous or damaging wildlife in their house or a shopping center, so why should farmers and ranchers be forced to put up with it. There are countless things that land owners do to improve wildlife habitats but there are times when they need to be dealt with.