Predator "Control" Pain and Persecution


Jun 10, 2002
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This PETA propoganda should give you a view into their warped world...

Predator "Control": Pain and Persecution

America has a continuing love affair with domesticated dogs and cats, upon whom we lavish care and attention. But the dogs and cats who once roamed the wilds of this country freely--coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, and wolves--are the victims of ruthless hunting and trapping programs. Supported by tax dollars, federal agents and private hunters and farmers have shot, poisoned, and trapped these animals so relentlessly that wolves, who used to inhabit 48 states, have become 99 percent extinct. Mountain lions were mostly exterminated east of the Mississippi by the turn of the century, but still survive, though tenuously, in the West. Coyotes manage to survive in larger numbers, but only because they are more adaptable and resilient, not because they are pursued any less. Federal policy mandates and supports the killing of other predators and "pests" such as badgers, black bears, foxes, raccoons, skunks, eagles, hawks, and owls.

Federal Folly

The U.S. government officially echoed various state laws, sanctioned common practice, and entered into the business of exterminating wild animals (many of them on public lands) with a 1915 federal law that ordered the killing of predators "to save beef for our allies."(1) In 1931, at the insistence of sheep raisers and other livestock interests, Congress passed legislation directing "the destruction of all mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, prairie dogs, gophers, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, and other animals injurious to agriculture, horticulture, forestry, husbandry, game or domestic animals, or that carried disease (sic)."

In 1991, the federal Animal Damage Control agency (ADC) shot, trapped, or poisoned more than 2.5 million animals, including 1.5 million blackbirds, 96,000 coyotes, 9,000 skunks, and more than 200 black bears.(2) This killing has been funded by taxpayers, and ADC's budget has grown steadily since the mid-1950s, reaching $35.7 million in 1994.(3) This increase has continued despite the fact that the number of U.S.-raised sheep--the principal "beneficiaries" of ADC's programs--has dwindled from 21 million to 11.2 million.(4)

Killing Methods

   * Bounties: The governments of 31 states offer bounties to encourage their citizens to kill various animals, not just wolves and coyotes but species such as magpies, ravens, and moles as well. Bounties can range from five cents for a dead starling to $80 for the carcass of a bobcat, amounting to yearly expenditures of thousands of state and local tax dollars.(5)
   * Hunters & Trappers: Both government agents and private hunters and ranchers routinely set out steel-jaw leghold traps, which have been banned by more than 70 countries because they are notoriously cruel and indiscriminate. After the jaws snap shut on their legs or faces, the animals suffer excruciating pain for hours or even days before the trapper returns to kill them. Animals often chew or wring off their limbs to escape, are attacked by predators, develop gangrene, starve, or freeze. Leghold traps also catch "non-target" species like songbirds and companion animals.

     Hunters hired by the government slaughter thousands of coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, and other predators. A Denver Wildlife Research Center study of one coyote "control" program reports that "of 1,119 animals trapped, injured, or killed, only 138 were the targeted coyotes. The remaining victims consisted of 21 non-target species, including hawks, golden eagles, songbirds, rabbits, and deer, as well as 63 domestic animals."(6) The fur of animals killed by government hunters is sold in U.S. and overseas markets, and the money is shared with state fish and game departments.(7)
   * Poison: For years, the ADC littered the landscape with animal carcasses laced with Compound 1080 -- 1/500th of an ounce of which can kill an adult human. Today, Compound 1080 is essentially outlawed, but ranchers have taken matters into their own hands. Federal officials broke up a ring of Wyoming ranchers selling Compound 1080 pilfered from a state storage facility.(8) The government's poison arsenal also includes lard-covered strychnine balls and cyanide "coyote getters."
   * Denning: Female coyotes are killed, and their pups are then burned alive, hooked, stabbed, or gassed in their dens.
   * Aircraft: Coyotes are pursued by hunters in helicopters and airplanes until they drop from exhaustion and are shot at a cost of $60-$120 an hour for airplanes and $250-$360 an hour for helicopters.(9)

Fatal Fallacy

The livestock industry and government policymakers insist that it is necessary to kill wild animals (coyotes being the chief target) to prevent them from killing domesticated animals, mainly sheep. But coyotes account for far fewer sheep deaths than they are blamed for. In fact, percentages of sheep killed by predators are no greater or less than they were before widespread "control" programs began.

Individual coyotes' diets vary as much as individual humans'; the natural diet of coyotes consists of insects, rodents, berries, ungulates (such as deer), and rabbits, and many live chiefly on carrion. Indiscriminate extermination kills the carrion-eaters as well as the sheep-eaters. Furthermore, domestic sheep have been bred to be docile and "manageable," which makes them unable to defend themselves as wild sheep can. They are set out to roam unprotected in large flocks on lands that are other animals' habitats.

The coyote population is naturally controlled by prey and habitat availability; when large numbers are killed, the ones who remain produce more young, and the jackrabbit and rodent populations also rise, providing more food for coyotes and enhancing their survival.(10) Without foxes and coyotes, the jackrabbit population in large areas of Texas has exploded to the point where "entire counties must annually gather and club rabbits in a particularly vulgar sport called a 'bunny bop.'"(11)

ADC once killed off the mountain lions of the Kaibab Plateau, north of the Grand Canyon, in an attempt to increase the number of deer for hunters and naturalists. Without the lions to cull the weak, sick, and old, the deer population outstripped its available food, and the result was mass starvation. Thus, the cruel killing of predator species has tragic results for other animals as well.

Benign Alternatives

Lithium chloride baiting, a non-lethal taste aversive, effectively prevents coyotes from attacking sheep. Fencing, herders, and shed-lambing (providing a shed for the birthing of lambs) also minimize the chances of predation. When lambs are raised with cows, the two species graze together; coyotes are much less likely to attack sheep when they are in a herd of cows. The USDA has developed an electronic coyote guard which sets off a siren and strobe light at intervals throughout the night.(12)

Reducing or eliminating our consumption of lambs' meat and use of wool is better yet, since the sheep industry is the main backer of the slaughter of predators. Undeveloped lands are the rightful province of species indigenous to them, not of a few ranchers who wish to deny predators their habitats.


  1. "Predator 'Control': Death as a Way of Life," Environmental Action, August 21, 1971.
  2. Tomsho, Robert, "U.S. Agency That Kills Livestock Predators Is Now a Target Itself," Wall Street Journal, June 17, 1994.
  3. Gannett News Service, "Trying to Outfox--and Kill," Tribune Newspapers, December 25, 1993.
  4. Reed, Susan, and Bill Shaw, "Dances with Coyotes," People, June 15, 1992.
  5. Reiger, George, "In the War on Predators There Is No Middle Ground," National Wildlife, June/July 1974.
  6. Keogh, Tanja, "U.S. Predator Control--A Legacy of Destruction," Earth First!, March 20, 1988.
  7. Greenwalt, Lynn A., "Department of Interior Final Environmental Impact Statement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mammalian Predator Damage Management for Livestock Protection in the Western United States," June 1979.
  8. Tomsho, op. cit.
  9. "Attention All Predators--You've a New Guardian," Mainstream, Spring 1986.
 10. Newsweek, November 8, 1982.
 11. Environmental Action, "Predator 'Control.'" op. cit.
 12. "A New Guard Against Coyotes," Progressive Farmer, Feb. 1992.


Mar 12, 2001
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(BLM California news release, 07/25/2002)

In an effort to control coyotes and feral dogs attacking and killing wild horses and burros at the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Regional Corral Facility near Ridgecrest, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Wildlife Service (formerly Animal Damage Control) take actions to protect the animals.

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