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The USDA Killed 4 Million Animals in 2013, But It's Not Clear Why

Illustration for article titled The USDA Killed 4 Million Animals in 2013, But Its Not Clear Why

When there's a "human wildlife conflict," the US Department of Agriculture's "Wildlife Services" gets called in to take care of the problem. In 2013, that resulted in the death of more than 4 million animals.

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Darryl Fears reports at the Washington Post:

The more than 4 million animals shot, poisoned, snared and trapped by the Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services in fiscal year 2013 included 75,326 coyotes, 866 bobcats, 528 river otters, 3,700 foxes, 12,186 prairie dogs, 973 red-tailed hawks, 419 black bears and at least three eagles, golden and bald.

But while there's a list of animals killed, there's little data showing the cause for each killing, the methods used and the reasons behind mistakes that lead to massive kills of animals that aren't targeted.

At least two members of Congress have called Wildlife Services secret and opaque for failing to provide more information, and there are mounting calls for an investigation into how it operates.

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Wildlife Services is ostensibly meant to eradicate the nation of invasive species, but that doesn't explain the thousands of native animals they killed as well - sometimes just because a farmer complained.

The entire article is well worth reading, but have a look at the inforgraphic that the Post created to run alongside the article. It puts everything into jaw-dropping perspective:

Illustration for article titled The USDA Killed 4 Million Animals in 2013, But Its Not Clear Why

Header image: Coyote via Jitze/Wikimedia Commons

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DISCUSSION

Why are the graphics mainly focused on a tiny fraction of the animals killed? Coyotes are less than 2% and prairie dogs are 0.3% of the total while various bird species are 75%.