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The Federal Government is Killing 227 Coyotes a Day

Melissa Waage

Posted January 27, 2014

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Sacramento Bee reporter Tom Knudson wrote the book on Wildlife Services, the controversial federal extermination agency, in his 2012 investigative series. He hasn't waivered in his attention to the topic since. This week, Knudson tweeted a pretty gruesome statistic: Wildlife Services has killed 1.1 million coyotes since 2000. That averages out to 227 coyotes a day.

227 coyotes a day. This statistic is worth repeating. It highlights one of the more common, needlessly wasteful and biologically silly ways that Wildlife Services spends taxpayer money. (And that's saying a lot). 

Wildlife Services mostly kills coyotes to benefit the livestock industry, and it kills tons of them. Indeed, killing coyotes is the bread and butter of Wildlife Services' predator control program; in the last year for which reporting is available, coyotes made up more than 90 percent of the big carnivores the agency killed. 

This scorched-earth policy can backfire, big time, producing more, not fewer, coyotes. As former Wildlife Service trapper Gary Strader puts it in our documentary, Wild Things, "If you kill a coyote, two will show up at its funeral." And worse yet, it can destabilize the animals' social structure and create more, not fewer, conflicts, as my colleague Andrew Wetzler has explained.

Not to mention that the methods used to kill coyotes can be dangerous to more than just coyotes. Aerial gunning (i.e. shooting coyotes from government helicopters or airplanes) is notoriously hazardous to human life and can cost more than $800 an hour. Sodium cyanide M-44 traps, also used by Widlife Services to kill coyotes, have a long and sad history of killing pets and even harming people who run across them unawares. 

All of which makes even less sense, if that's possible, when you consider that there are plenty of non-lethal ways to coexist with coyotes. Our friends at Project Coyote have some terrific resources for those who want to learn more. And one of the first steps is exposing the deadly way that Wildlife Services does business. You can help by urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support a thorough investigation of Wildlife Services

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Garrett RyanJan 28 2014 04:13 PM

Please eliminate this rogue agency. I have only heard terrible and untrustworthy things that they do for all sorts of news and reporting agencies. I do not want my tax dollars used to kill any wild animals we should live in harmony with those animals that were here before us. Disrupting the eco systems of our country by taking predators aways effects everything from the top down and will have horrific effects if this is allowed to proceed much longer.

Bambi McCluskeyJan 28 2014 04:15 PM

There is no need to kill wild animals, especially for greed! We need predators and prey.

Louise BrunetJan 28 2014 04:16 PM

Per day !
And you call yourself WILD LIFE...

I am horrified.

Rowena LangstonJan 28 2014 04:17 PM


Karen GriffithJan 28 2014 04:17 PM

Disrespecting nature is cruel and crude. We can do better!

Shirley CofresiJan 28 2014 04:19 PM

There were many coyotes present here in the foothills of the Sierras until WWS decided to rid the area of the animals. We've finally passed laws that prohibit some traps, but it isn't enough. The WWS is out of control, needs to be investigated, and hopefully disbanned!

Manuel Gonzalez, Jr.Jan 28 2014 04:22 PM

Please stop this murderous spree!!!

Lynn StylesJan 28 2014 04:23 PM

STOP this horror on innocent animals. These people should be protecting them not slaughtering them
We are NOT barbarians and this blatant cruel killing must stop

Megan WiesenmayerJan 28 2014 04:23 PM

Kill this program, not these beautiful animals!!

salvatore j. centoJan 28 2014 04:24 PM

they have every right to live- stop this slaughter now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Donna WalderzakJan 28 2014 04:24 PM

Please stop this horrible act!

karen slobodJan 28 2014 04:26 PM

Killing 227 coyotes a day? Really?!

If we keep treating the planet and the other inhabitants like we own the place ... what will be left when we're through?

Vicki BarryJan 28 2014 04:27 PM

Please STOP this ridiculous killing of coyotes! They certainly don't deserve this!

Miriam Gutierrez Jan 28 2014 04:28 PM

Please, don't hurt or kill any coyote or wild animal! They are innocent and don't deserve to be harmed because of arrogant and selfish people.

Vivian BrienJan 28 2014 04:35 PM

Please stop the brutal killing of so much wild life. What has happened to the nation to kill so much of our nature. Where have our hearts gone that no compassion is there anymore. We are destroying the very fabric of our planet and there will be hell to pay one day. More and more people are going vegan and vegetarian and will continue. Greed is a sin.

Kevin DiRitoJan 28 2014 04:41 PM

There is no good reason for brutality.

AmyJan 28 2014 04:43 PM

Human beings are so wasteful. Stop the senseless and unnecessary killing of wildlife. When will human beings stop killing animals we deem unfit to live among us? I do not want my taxpayer dollars paying for killing coyotes, wolves or even mute swans. We can find better ways to help wildlife rather than destroying it.

Janine FloresJan 28 2014 04:59 PM


Mary SchilderJan 28 2014 05:27 PM

What is the war on wildlife? Help wildlife don't destroy them, they deserve to live too without humans screwing everything up.

PAT METSINGERJan 28 2014 05:42 PM


Zeenat RasheedJan 28 2014 05:45 PM

Very sad indeed....we do need to make sure they don't become an endangered species.... I would be willing to contribute to a fund that would pay for this research.

Felicia Lawyer Jan 28 2014 06:22 PM

This needs to stop and we need to restore balance to the earth.

timothy preciadoJan 28 2014 06:29 PM

pointing the gun at yourself...because killing another living organism is same as killing yourself. Human systems, and governments don't value life....they value a life that can give value....

Linda EatonJan 28 2014 06:30 PM

As a Rancher/Farmer I have Coyotes around my place. I have to keep in mind that it was their home before mine. They will take a house cat if the cat is not smart, or a small dog, but I have not lost any stock to them. I build pens to keep them out. You don't have to shoot to kill to scare them off. A little dust in front of their face will keep them at bay. Go back in history to The Dust Bowl and see what happened when they killed all The Coyotes.

Pia Vergara Jan 28 2014 07:20 PM

Lets coexist!! Killing all the coyotes for the sake of livestock is not the answer. Please realize that's not the best we can do. Once we wipe off the wild life it's go w forever. :'(

Pia Vergara

Carla de la RochaJan 28 2014 07:33 PM

Dont destroy God creatures they have rights to live. These people that kill the Coyotes should go prisiĆ³n for killing God creation.

Tom GarreffiJan 28 2014 07:38 PM


Shelley DrainerJan 28 2014 07:58 PM

I am disgusted with our government bought and sold by the Corporations and of course BIG RANCHERS and Cattle owners. Give them whatever they want. Destroy every living thing if they ask. When is our Government going to do what is right for AMERICA and not the big money. NEVER

Ruthanne HolbertJan 28 2014 08:19 PM

This is a crime. This is insanity. Stop now!

Linda AronJan 28 2014 11:29 PM


Lisa widmerJan 28 2014 11:37 PM

That's disgusting... They were here firist ... All bot money and building things.. Man just keeps taking habitats away for animals.., so senseless .. They should do that to rapist Nd murders...:(

Robin ScholleJan 28 2014 11:41 PM

227 coyotes a day are killed by our government??? One is too many if you ask me. I am ashamed to know that our government has no heart and value when it comes to a living being. this is tragic.

Judith SomersetJan 29 2014 12:52 AM

I am outraged that my tax dollars are used to pay for the slaughter of coyotes. This barbaric practice must stop! The cattle industry has non lethal methods to use, but they would rather have YOU slaughter the predators !! I am ashamed of this!!! STOP!!

Leyla AtkeJan 29 2014 03:41 AM

For God sake, this awful unhuman agency must be closed! Just close it!

I am terrified by the methods they use to exterminate wild animals! They must live their life! You are not God to decide who will live and who will die.

Teresa De AguiarJan 29 2014 10:09 AM

That is appalling n inhumane this ought to be stopped n they should be protected before such beautiful creatures become extinct

Ingrid JohnsonJan 29 2014 02:49 PM

This agency needs to be abolished as soon as possible. My taxes should not be used to destroy wildlife of any kind. The livestock ranchers need to accept that the food they raise is food for animals, too! It must be part of the losses of nature like flood, fire, or drought.

Joan PapesJan 29 2014 05:35 PM

I remember in the 70s, there was a wide-spread culling of coyotes in the Nebraska area. Within a matter of years the state was overrun with rabbits, a natural food-source for coyote. The state then had to have an annual rabbit hunt event, which basically killed rabbits and left them to rot. What kind of sense does all of this make? Does it not make more sense to let nature control the wild life instead of some government agency in Washington?

Patricia CohenJan 29 2014 05:46 PM

give up boys, they are smarter and heartier than we are! It's a waste of time and money, and really, there are so many deer to eat, can't we all try to get along!?!

Constance GlennJan 29 2014 08:23 PM

End the slaughter.

Susan SidellJan 30 2014 01:10 AM

I think we should find other means than killing them to protect the livestock, and children.

Jennie RobertsonJan 30 2014 08:08 PM

This killing is simpy wrong! Inhumane.

Mickey AndersonJan 30 2014 09:41 PM

Leave our wild life alone, pen up your livestock, they were here first. Besides they should stop slaughtering animals for consumption. If you want to raise livestock, pen them up out of reach of wild animals.

Comments are closed for this post.


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