Nearly 7,400 wild animals were slaughtered every single day on average across the U.S. last year — not by hunters or poachers, but by a government agency whose stated mission is "to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist."
796 bobcats were killed by Wildlife Services in 2014.
According to disturbing new data recently made public by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), agents and contractors destroyed over 2.7 million animals in 2014. The large-scale killing amounts to a war on wildlife, critics say, carried out not with environmentally-friendly intentions, but rather to appease special interests for whom animals are an inconvenience.
61,702 coyotes were killed by Wildlife Services in 2014.
Native predatory species account for a significant portion of the animals killed, frequently at the behest of ranchers who consider them "pests" for attacking livestock. Worse yet, the methods used in the secretive culls are far from humane or discriminating.
305 mountain lions were killed by Wildlife Services in 2014.
"It's sickening to see these staggering numbers and to know that so many of these animals were cut down by aerial snipers, deadly poisons and traps," Amy Atwood, from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said in a release.
"These acts of brutality are carried out every day, robbing our landscapes of bears, wolves, coyotes and other animals that deserve far better. Wildlife Services does its dirty work far from public view and clearly has no interest in cleaning up its act."
15,911 prairie dogs were killed by Wildlife Services in 2014.
Staggering as it may be, the death toll from USDA's operations in 2014 actually marks a decline from the previous year, during which more than 4 million animals were killed, though it's about on par with the agency's grim record. As the CBD notes, over 27 million native animals have been destroyed by the USDA since 1996.
8,971 common ravens were killed by Wildlife Services in 2014.
So-called "problem" species aside, collateral damage from the government's wildlife "management" has been jaw-dropping. A 2012 investigation by the Sacramento Bee found that the agency had inadvertently killed tens of thousands of non-target animals with their broadly applied trapping and poisoning tactics since 2000. Among those killed were rare and endangered species, as well as more than a thousand family pets. Many deaths are believed to have gone unreported.
1,001 feral/free-ranging dogs and cats were killed by Wildlife Services in 2014.
"If people knew how many animals are being killed at taxpayer expense — often on public lands — they would be shocked and horrified," Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, told the paper.
22,416 beavers were killed by Wildlife Services in 2014.
Since the Bee's shocking exposé cast into light the USDA's brutal modus operandi, conservationists hoped pressure would force the agency to change its ways — but as this most recent death count reveals, the government's war on wildlife rages on.
"Wildlife Services continues to thumb its nose at the growing number of Americans demanding an end to business as usual," Atwood said. "This appalling and completely unnecessary extermination of American wildlife must stop."