Federal Government Killing Record Number of Carnivores

Mammal Death Toll Up 21% in 2006 with Growing Numbers of Wolves Targeted

Washington, DC — The federal government is killing record numbers of warm-blooded animals, particularly carnivores, according to agency statistics compiled by Sinapu and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In addition, the number of federally protected wolves killed has been steadily rising – up six-fold over the past decade – with nearly 300 wolves dispatched last year alone.

Wildlife Services, a euphemistically named arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spent $108 million in 2006 to kill more than 1.6 million animals deemed a “nuisance” to ranchers, farmers, and others. That total includes a record number of mammals (207,341) up more than 21% over the previous year, including a record number of animals protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“We have one arm of the federal government trying to protect wildlife while a different arm is doing its best to eradicate the same animals – how much sense does that make?” asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Our federal government does not have a coherent let alone coordinated wildlife policy.”

The 2006 Wildlife Service kill totals for mammals were up sharply from previous years:

• A record number of gray wolves (278), the subject of a highly publicized reintroduction effort, were killed in numbers that are up more than six-fold since 1996;

• Another 116,610 mammalian carnivores, including 87,000 coyotes, 10,000 raccoons, 2,500 bobcats, 500 badgers, and 318 black bears were taken by federal wildlife agents who also killed 1,184 housecats and 512 dogs; and

• Approximately 50,000 animals from the rodent and rabbit families—the largest toll came from beavers (28,000), followed by nutria (2,500), and marmots and woodchucks (3,700).

“This annual carnage is just staggering,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu, noting that Wildlife Services killed approximately six million animals in the period between 2003 and 2005. “Wildlife Services is like the wildlife equivalent of Blackwater, shooting first and deflecting questions later.”

Notwithstanding the record mammal toll, the majority of animals exterminated by Wildlife Services were birds, including more than a million starlings, and thousands of other avian species:

• Water birds such as 15,855 cormorants, 469 herons, 2,373 ducks, 13,603 geese, and 18,243 gulls;

• Raptors, including 298 hawks, 505 owls, and 12 osprey, as well as 4,871 vultures (important environmental actors that clean up carcasses); and

• 37,391 blackbirds – because they eat grains and sunflower seeds.

The two groups are calling for the federal government to get out of the wildlife extermination business and to divert resources toward management of wildlife populations that are coming into greater conflict with sprawling human development.


See Wildlife Service annual take of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act

View the mammal kill totals by year and species

Look at the effort to abolish Wildlife Services

Scan the 2006 Wildlife Services “Table of Animals Taken by Component Type and Fate”

42 responses to “Federal Government Killing Record Number of Carnivores

  1. steve c, quote:
    a. “It makes me sleep well at night knowing that there are 50000 less blackbirds on the planet.”

    b. “would love it if all hunting is banned.”

    c. “Keep spreading your toxic propaganda around the internet. ”

    reply a. Personally I support hunting crows. When I was growing up the woods were filled with song birds and wood peckers. Now they are filled with crows. The Colorado and Wyoming state bird should be the crow. Crows have driven out the song birds and wood peckers. Maybe if wood peckers were still around there would be less of an issue to beetle kill in the forest – something that did not show up in my neck of the woods until the crows took over. Crows and coyotes have also had a horrible impact on sage grouse populations. Contrary to popular myth sage grouse populations dropped significantly during the bust days of oil drilling. And it wasn’t cattle grazing or hunting either.

    reply b: Why, exactly, would you love all hunting to be banned? After all it is both an organic food source and a renewable resource. For meat eaters, which situation would you rather have. Meat coming from animals in feedlots or range fed animals and wild animals with a more enjoyable life?

    As a hunter and fisher I appreciate each animal I take. You may not realize it but most hunters love animals. If you are a meat eater I encourage you to harvest your own animal at least once in your life. It may give you a better appreciation for the consequences eating meat.

    Like most hunters I know, I support Wilderness Areas. If you ever reached out to a hunter you might realize you have more in common than you realize.

    You probably didn’t realize it but contrary to popular opinion state G&F agencies are are mostly supported by monies collected for hunting/fishing licenses. There is also an 11% tax built into the price of all hunting/fishing supplies (rods, reels, lines, lures, guns, ammo, gps, boots, and clothing) that goes to the G&F.

    reply c: In my view you seem pretty closed minded to other peoples life experiences and values. Not much different than the people on the extreme right you probably loath.

    catbestland, quote:
    a. “I donate money to wildlife organizations that offer numerous programs that teach ranchers how to deter predation and even offer assistance in this matter”

    reply a: Do you also buy wildlife stamps from the WY, MT, and ID game in fish to support the monitoring of wolves.

    What would be your attitude and solution if the following scenario ever happened: wolf predation of wildlife caused a significant drop in elk, moose, and deer populations. And as a result the starvation of many wolves. Would you be willing to let them die of starvation?

    reply b: look at how much they get in government subsidies. Where do you think the term “Wellfare Ranching”

    Being that my uncle is a rancher I know this is pure propaganda – he gets no type of subsidy for raising cattle.

    Several questions of all the “environmentalists” out there.

    1. How many of you own a SUV? (BTW, I don’t and I hunt, fish, and do lots of backpacking. I have a 4 cylinder Honda.)

    2. How many of you really need that SUV? And why don’t you rent a SUV when you need one?

    3. How many of you keep your thermostats at home at 66F or under? If you don’t, why? (I keep mine at 60F at night and between 64F during the day).

    4. How many of you get a new cell phone every year? Do you know how hard that is on the environment?

    5. How many of you get an environmental news letters or solicitations in the mail? How do you feel about the energy consumption that it takes to process/deliver all that paper mail.

    Perhaps you need to clean your own house before you are critical and close minded of others….

  2. Pingback: Wolf at the Door : Colorado Journal

  3. PS Marion, FYI, I’m pretty sure there are no feedlots in Chicago anymore; I doubt there’s a major feedlot (more than 500 head) within 150 miles of Chicago.

    The old “yards” there on the South Side from Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” went by the wayside with the advent of refrigeration. The only way to get edible beef from points west was to ship it there alive and kill it in Chicago. Refrigeration allowed us to kill beef almost anywhere and ship it frozen or cold almost anywhere.

    Unfortunately, the last two decades have seen beef packing re-concentrated by the big monopolists like Tyson-IBP. They’re the small rancher’s REAL enemy, and they’re bad for the environment to boot. I wish we could put our collective energies into fighting them instead of fighting over wolves.

  4. Marion – the 4-wheeler guy was an employee; the ranch in that incident paid a fine of about $2,500, or only about a tenth of what they could have been fined under the ESA. That amount would have hurt a small family outfit, but I doubt that ranch even blinked at that amount.

    Keystone’s rider program finished the 07 season with good success, according to my local sources. The riders operate on a the scale of wolf pack home ranges, so while they’re not protecting everyone’s cattle everywhere, they’re doing a first-rate job where they do operate. The idea is to learn about what works, and to work together to build relationships.

    And to answer your next question, no, the riders aren’t wolf-kissin’ hippies, they’re the real deal.

  5. Wendy Keefover-Ring

    Try this link, Marion:


  6. Wendy, do you have any updates on the range rider program? That page is pretty badly outdated.

  7. They do provide some riders, but not the number that are needed to protect cattle over such a wide area.
    Whether you want to admit it or not, individual families are the ones taking the hit and making the sacrifices. I haven’t heard if the guy that ran over the wolf with hsi 4 wheeler was an employee of the rancher or a range rider, either way the rancher will pay big time for it.

  8. Wendy Keefover-Ring

    The “Range Riders” program comes from our sister organization, Predator Conservation Alliance, now known as Keystone Conservation. They’re based in Bozeman, MT. Here’s link to the program:


  9. Cat – can you provide more information about The Nature Conservancy’s program to provide riders and guard dogs? I have not heard of that but want to know more.

  10. Provide some documentation of anyone spending that kind of money to protect their livestock from wolves. It doesn’t exist. Even if they had to shell out SOME money (which is doubtful) look at how much they get in government subsidies. Where do you think the term “Wellfare Ranching” came from. People on welfare have to meet some government requirements, why shouldn’t welfare ranchers have to abide by rules as well. Besides there are programs provided by Defenders of wildlife and Nature Conservancy and many others that provide range riders and even trained guard dogs for FREE. What else should whining ranchers be entitled too?They are the largest recipients of welfare in the country.

  11. Do you have details of these programs? Do you realize some of the ranchers have had to hire extra help to try to keep the wolves from eating their livestock? Give some thought to having to spend say $25 thousand a year to protect your property because it pleases someone else to have them put in danger. A rancher who has had to pay an extra 25 grand per year for the last 10 years for your good feeling that YOU are doing something, that’s a quarter of a million to make you happy.

  12. I donate money to wildlife organizations that offer numerous programs that teach ranchers how to deter predation and even offer assistance in this matter. When ranchers fail to avail themselves to these programs, the organizations then pay for the stock that gets killed. The programs are there but ranchers fail to take advantage of them, yet when their animals are killed they whine and we pay. But it is worth it to know that wolves are once again where they should be.

    If you’ll load them up (alive) I’ll take em.

  13. Take yours home with you….and mine too for that matter. Ownership involves responsibility. When it comes to wolves those claiming the most rights and ownership are the ones displaying no responsibility. How much do you do to help keep the wolves off of private property?

  14. The wolves, like all of our wildlife are a national treasure. They belong to all of us.

  15. Maybe we have gone at this the wrong way, those who take ownership of the wolves should be the ones to keep them out of trouble and well fed.

  16. Ranching is fine as long as they keep their cows off of public land and don’t kill wolves unless every other method of detering predation has been exhausted.

  17. In other words, no matter how well kept the land is, you believe ranching is wrong, and will never believe otherwise? Those ranchers are feeding millions of people, and I like to eat. But I reckon we will jsut have to agree to disagree.

  18. As a matter of fact elkhunter I do. I am a supporter of the Buffalo Field Campain But I don’t think they belong where they did not occur naturally. However I am not convinced that they didn’t roam the Henry Mountains in Utah. If they didn’t they shouldn’t be there.

    I have been in the horse industry all of my of my life. Horses are domestic animals. They need to be cared for and I do not think their presense has a possitive impact on the land. We have heards of them on the Bookcliffs near Grand Junction. I think they do far better in captivity. The same with the burros.

    Elkhunter, I didn’t mean to give the impression in an earlier post that I dissagree with all hunting either. But it is true that many hunters give the rest of you a bad name. I am still cleaning up after those that hunt in my area. Why do they have to leave those surveying tape strips every where? I have to go in a remove everyone of them because they never do. I’ve gotten in the habbit of going in right behind them and taking them down before any animals can get them and swallow them. I’m careful to wear my orange though as they are still hunting.

  19. Cat, what about non-native species? Like buffalo on the henry mountains in UT, they are not native but there are buffalo there, same with antelope island. They are not native to the area. Wild Horses in western UT, which obviously are not native. Also the non-native wild burro’s in NV and NM that are in direct competition with the Desert Bighorn sheep. Do you feel those animals should be removed? Just curious.

  20. Marion, The science is the argument. There’s no denying the destruction of the watersheds and the invasion of noxious weeds, all due to the cattle industry. Apparently the bogey (cow) man has already gotten you. I have been an avid hiker for many years. I have seen the destruction first hand. The deer, elk and moose can stay. Cattle must be removed from public lands.

  21. Cat, you are invested in trying to beleive that cattle are bad for some reason, and you keep flopping around trying to make an arguement that isn’t there. Does it not seem strange to you that no cows were present any time?
    If you believe I am coerced, you msut be afraid to sleep at night for fear the bogey man will get you.
    I know what I see, I see miles of meadows on the Big Horns near my home summer fall winter and spring. teh grass is still up to their bellies when they are coming off the mountain….And believe me I know the difference between weeds and grass. that picture of Marvel’s is grass, both green and brown.
    Here is another meadow where cattle graze, they are not in the photo, although that is the loading shoot. I was trying for pretty rather than proving a point.


    Cattle and sheep graze here all summer, it is also grazed by tons of deer, elk and moose…..All well fed. You really need to get out and see for yourself instead of believing everything somebody feeds you.

  22. Wendy Keefover-Ring

    I invite you all to click on the link “View the Mammal Kill Totals by Year & Species” — in the press release above. I didn’t realize it wasn’t working.

  23. Marion, easy, The land is green every year because the native grasses can still make it’s way up through all the noxious weeds that were introduced by the cows. Plus even the noxious weeds are green in the spring. The cows fatten because they are allowed unrestrained access to as much of the land as it takes to fatten them, all the while leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

    Do you think the government is above going back on it’s word, especially where public land is concerned? Let’s see…How many treaties were broken by that government with Native Americans? Hmmm…Oh yeah,….ALL of them.

    Marion, is someone forcing you to make these incredibly unimformed arguments? Or, are you the best they’ve got to represent them here? Are your fences and outbuildings covered with camouflage netting? Were you home schooled by someone in army boots? Is your home reffered to as a “Compound”? Because if this were the case, I could understand why you keep coming up with this repetitive nonsense. I am truly concerned that you might be under coersion. If this is the case, please let us know. Maybe we can inform local authorities and they can effect a rescue opperation. If this is not the case, you need some remedial courses in science and biology.

  24. I don’t know how much agronomy you know, but could you explain to me how land could be over grazed for a hundred years plus and still be green every spring and continue to fatten those cows year after year? My opinion is that the ranchers are good stewards of the land, and will continue until they end up selling to developers.
    I am guessing that you do not like meat, but many of us do. And to be honest, no matter what you eat, something dies to feed you.
    Certainly the government would show it’s word to be no good if it cancels all of the leases. One of the two big ranchers is selling out next month, and that will speed up the beautiful Shell Creek area becoming another Big Sky. Is that really what you want? Again, I must remind you, the ranchers OWN thousands of acres, hundreds of thousands. I can pretty much guarantee they are not going to give that land away to those who work so hard to put them out of business.

  25. My point is, it is the cattle industry at fault here. This is a problem in addition to damage caused by overgrazing. What is being created by all that poo is green house gasses. The cows may be contributing to global warming as indicated in George Weurnthner’s article. “Westen ranching, global warming and the bovine curtain”.

  26. I saw that, but surely you realize that there is a world of difference between a feed lot and grazing don’t you? I suspect those huge feed lots in Chicago and Omaha are pretty nasty too.
    On the other hand they have been doing work creating energy from all of that poo, so it may be good in the long run. Teh cows may not only feed us, they may help keep us warm.

  27. This isn’t about having a place to play. If the watersheds are destroyed the water will be tainted. George Wuernthner’s article points out that it takes about 5 times more water to produce a pound of beef than it does a pound of any vegitable or grain. Everything is connected. Overgrazing has caused the loss of numerous types of essential trees. The death of a forrest compromises the air we breath.

    Far more food can be produced on an acre of vegetable or grain than an acre of beef production. The presance of the wolf can actually affect whether you will have grazing in certain areas or not. For instance. With out the wolf the elk destroyed the willow stands, willow stands are habitat for beavers, beavers in turn create habitat for all water loving species, i.e. ducks, moose fish. Their dams collect sediment. When the dams break and the ponds drain, you have the beginnings of a new meadow.

    It has been said that much of our river bottum grazing lands were created by series of beaver dams over thousands of years in development. The beavers are there in part because of the wolf. The sicence is there, it is all connected. A circle. We need all contributors to it.

  28. There is so little detail in all of those photos that it is hard to tell. I have to tell you most of them look like the BLM ground across the road from my place, and it has never ever been grazed.
    If you notice in the other picture that I posted in the other thread even though there is some tracks along the creek, there is a lot of grass.
    Cat, the land has changed a great deal in the 70+ years I have been around, there are more people, our state has doubled in population during those years to half a million people, yes there are pumpers around. But we have indoor plumbing, we have electric lights, we have forced air heat…or some do, I ahve a fireplace and an electric heat storage unit. I don’t HAVE to take my clothes out to the line in the winter if I don’t want too.
    I am far more concerned about adequate water for everyone years down the line than almost anything else. I jsut watched a tv program on the disappearing honey bees. I’ve been following that all year. I am far more concerned that there be enough food for everyone than where they are going to play.

  29. On a side note, Marion, some of your pictures are great… I have some unbelievable double rainbow pictures from round prairie in yellowstone last year.

  30. I love google image search…

  31. Marrion, What about those 10 or so pictures of the Copper Creek allotment destruction. Do you claim that is normal?

  32. Great picture Steve. I laughed my butt off.

  33. Marion, you claim you are fighting for a “way of life”. What do you think your children and grandchildren are going think of the way your generation has squandered our natural resources and ravaged the land they will inherit? I’ll tell you how they will feel. I know because it will be the same way I felt when I realized the way I was raised was wrong and that “that way of life was responsible for untold suffering of millions of people” …ashamed. I was raised in the civil rights era in the deep south. When I was young I thought that our “way of life” was far more important than the rights of others. When I grew to understand otherwise, I was very ashamed of the ethics with which I had been raised. I love my parents, but they were wrong.

    Do you want your children and grandchildren to be ashamed of the way your generation has squandered and destroyed the inheritance that we owe them…a full and diverse invironment which includes healthy ecosystems? Do you want them to inherit a scarred and barren landscape, devoid of living creatures, or do you want them to know and understand that everything in this creation has a purpose? It’s up to you.

  34. Green and lush with what? Invasive grass species that grow on grazed land and pose a fire risk? What is that wolf picture supposed to show? If wolves are like all dogs how can you support killing them (especially since you rant and rave about wildlife killing dogs). Ill take that over this any day… At least it has ocurred there for thousands of years…

  35. Steve, I sincerely doubt that I have changed your mind about anything. You have ranted against ranching from the get go. You posted that picture form Marvel, there is no way to know where it was taken, but the fact that it was green and lush in the spring and brown in the fall shows a normal cycle. If that is grazing land, it has probably been grazed for a hundred years or better and is still in good shape. It comes up green and lush every spring…as long as there is moisture, in the form of snow in this country.
    As for viewing the wolves, I have to admit, a dog is a dog, is a dog to me. If I see them I photograph them, but I’ll take griz or elk any day of the week. they act like all dogs.


  36. And cows can carry mad cow disease… I live in an area affected by west nile virus and I can tell you that more people die in Marion approved aerial gunning crashes per year than die of west nile. Stop putting words in my mouth! I NEVER said that I want to get rid of food producers (maybe those trying to grow 3% of cows in poor cow country.) Why do you keep putting words in my mouth? Does it make you feel good about yourself to deflect away from your piss poor arguments?

    You should drive to yellowstone and find Rick McEntyre. He will be surrounded by dozens of wolf watchers. He can show you wolves existing in nature. Maybe you will be able to grow an appreciation for them as thousands of others have. Actually it might make you feel guilty about your call for bloodshed. Keep spreading your toxic propaganda around the internet. You are changing a lot of minds. You changed mine. Before listening to your arguments i was indifferent towards hunting and ranching. Now I avoid beef at all costs and would love it if all hunting is banned.

  37. Actually the terrorist threat is one of the concerns with all of the infected animals in Yellowstone. Poisons would not accomplish nearly as much over a large number of people as disease.
    Mice carry the Hanta virus, birds can carry WNV. Unfortunately blackbirds, including greckles kill song birds and robins, as well as devastate grain fields and spreading disease thru their feces.
    While you are laughing about ranchers saving wildlife, why don’t you visit some? It might be enlightening, but of course if you want to get rid of food producers, it probably will not change your mind. If you had to admit that ranchers do a lot of good, that would mean those who are determined to get rid of them are not very nice.

  38. How long will it be before some terrorist group realizes how simple it would be to “acquire” these weapons of mass destruction from the barns and sheds of American farmers and ranchers?

  39. So they are poisoning these animals to keep them from eating our food supply… and they are doing this poisoning in and around our food supply!! Who could think this is a good idea? It is so shocking to me that we pay to kill all these species. It would seem logical (however misplaced) that the certain groups would be against predators, but this list is just ridiculous! I always laugh a little bit when people claim that ranchers do more to help wildlife than anyone else…

  40. Wendy Keefover-Ring

    In 1988, APHIS killed 3.7 million black birds in 9 states, according to their Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (1997). APHIS has done it’s part to rid the world of black birds with all kinds of noxious poisons that kill nontarget species and contribute to unintended secondary poisonings and yet almost no one knows about this agency.

    Read about their inability to maintain control over toxicants:


  41. It makes me sleep well at night knowing that there are 50000 less blackbirds on the planet. After all, it is a matter of time before one of them attacks our children!! Don’t get me started on the ducks… the only good duck is a dead duck.

    If these animals were left alive would the “damage” that they cause even come close to the 100 million spent to kill them? Have any studies been done on this?

    The anti-wildlife forces in this country make me sick. They are greedy and bloodthirsty. Do they have any shame stealing 100 million more dollars from the taxpayers (in addition to the amount they already steal by using our public lands). I am proud to be an enviro!