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Friend or Foe: USDA Wildlife Services


Key Points:

  • In 2021, an agency within the U.S. the Department of Agriculture (USDA) called Wildlife Services, killed over 1.75 million animals.

  • 6.61% of animals in the U.S. were killed, according to the Wildlife Services’ 2021 toll.

  • The killings are a mix of intentional and unintentional deaths.

  • The program kills 200 animals per hour.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), reported in 2021, Wildlife Services killed over 1.75 million animals. This means every hour that passes by, 200 animals are killed.

Almost 3,000 were unintentional deaths from poisons and traps intended for other animals.


There were also 25 million animals relocated throughout 2021. The program's intentions of killing and relocating are to protect agriculture, human health and vulnerable species.


Agency spokesperson Tanya Espinosa said in an email..

“Nearly 95 percent of the work conducted by Wildlife Services is nonlethal,” when speaking on the practices of relocation, and habitat modification.


In the department's report, 1,028,642 European starlings, 100,000 feral pigs, over 66,000 feral pigeons, and nearly 64,000 coyotes were killed. Within the long list of animals killed were white-tailed deer, beavers, black-tailed prairie dogs, alligators, owls, snakes, gray wolves, mountain lions, black bears, and bobcats, and one bald eagle, killed unintentionally. While the program's intentions are to protect, they killed more than 400,000 native species.


Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity said…



Positive Improvements


Although it may seem surprising, the death tolls in 2020 and 2021 were lower than previous years, with 2020 being the first year the number was under 2 million since 2006. The department's worst years in terms of death toll were 2008 and 2010, where around 5 million animals were killed each year.


In response to the mass killing of animals, the general public believes all these killings are going to unbalance the natural state of ecosystems and invasive species will start to take over.



Wildlife activist Lindsay Larris said…



What Now?


In correlation with the USDA’s report, new research is suggesting we may have started another mass extinction event. These findings project there to be major habitat and species loss in the near future all caused by human activity.


Endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, Noah Greenwald explains…



In order to keep this planet happy, healthy and its ecosystems thriving, we must protect as many of its inhabitants and their homes to the best of our abilities.


For more information, click the links below.






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