In a shocking report released this week, the notoriously secretive USDA agency Wildlife Services admitted to having killed a staggering 2.7 million animals in 2014 - but that number may be even higher yet.
Easily missed among the multitude of wild creatures shot, poisoned or snared in traps is a small but no less troubling number of domestic animals whose deaths were listed as "unintentional." According to the troublingly high death toll data, 16 "pets or livestock" were killed last year in addition to 1,001 "feral or free-ranging" dogs and cats.
Amy Atwood, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Dodo she suspects that the number of pets killed by the Wildlife Services is likely much higher than the agency reports, especially given the indiscriminate methods used to kill.
"I don't believe their number," Atwood said. "Wildlife Services likes to say they selectively target animals, but we know that's just not possible with the poisons and traps they use. They're supposed to post signs warning of traps and poison, but they routinely do not. There are problems here that are systemic and pervasive."