Wildlife Services toll soars

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2005:

WASHINGTON D.C.–USDA Wildlife Services, the official hit
men for the Cabinet-directed Invasive Species Council, in 2004
killed one million more animals than in 2003, according to data
released on September 9, 2005.
“Wildlife Services killed more than five animals per minute,”
observed Wendy Keefover-Ring of the Colorado predator advocacy group
Sinapu to Associated Press Writer Libby Quaid.
The Wildlife Services toll came to 2.7 million lives,
including 2.3 million starlings, 10,735 Canada geese, and 3,263
double-crested cormorants.
Other targeted species were killed at rates that have been
more-or-less normal in recent years. Among them were 75,674 coyotes,
31,286 beavers, and 3,907 foxes, whose killing by paid government
trappers belied fur industry claims that wild pelt demand is strong.
Wildlife Services also klled 397 black bears, mostly suspected of
raiding homes or otherwise menacing humans, plus 359 pumas and 191
wolves, chiefly suspected of killing livestock.
Additional bird victims included 143 feral or free-ranging
chickens and 72 wild turkeys, apparently just for being alleged
neighborhood nuisances.

Starlings have been increasingly aggressively targeted under
the George W. Bush administration because of complaints from “red
state” farmers and ranchers.
Deliberately introduced to the U.S. in 1890, just as
passenger pigeons were disappearing, starlings quickly expanded into
the vacated habitat niche. Instead of following the migrating bison
herds north and south, picking insects and undigested grain out of
bison manure, starlings followed domestic horses and cattle–and
unlike passenger pigeons, were considered too small to hunt for the
Giant non-migratory Canada geese were introduced across the
U.S. by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies
as part of a 50-year effort to increase the abundance of geese for
Double-crested cormorants are particularly hated by fish
farmers and recreational fishers, who blame them for raiding ponds
and allegedly depleting “sport” species, especially around the Great
Lakes and in the Mississippi River drainage basis.
Both non-migratory Canada geese and double-crested cormorants
were formerly protected under the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The act did not distinguish between the wild migratory Canada goose
variety and the non-migratory population, bred by crossing wild
geese with domestic geese.
Following more than a decade of administrative efforts to
exempt non-migratory Canada geese, cormorants, mute swans, and
other “nuisance” species from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, U.S.
Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest of Maryland in November 2004 added
a rider to an omnibus spending bill that legislatively removed more
than 100 species from protection.
The rider on June 15, 2005 forced U.S. District Judge Emmet
G. Sullivan to reverse his own previous ruling and reject a petition
on behalf of mute swans filed by the Humane Society of the U.S. and
the Fund for Animals. More than 4,000 mute swans are now slated for
extermination around Chesapeake Bay, where they are blamed for
harming sea grass beds. Other mute swan populations are to be
targeted as rapidly as possible around the nation.
Wildlife Services culling of Canada geese and cormorants had
already accelerated.

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