"Animal Kills by Federal Agency More Than Double"

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The number of animals poisoned, shot or snared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than doubled last year, and environmentalists who are critical of the killings are renewing their effort to cut the program's funding.

The USDA's Wildlife Services division killed more than 4.9 million animals during the 2008 fiscal year, some of them pests that threaten crops. That's more than double the 2.4 million animals killed the previous year, but the agency contends the increase is due to more accurate counting methods.

Wildlife Services, which released the annual death count last week, reported that 90 percent of animals killed in 2008 included crows, blackbirds, magpies and three species of invasive birds: European starlings, sparrows and pigeons."

Susan Montoya Bryan reports for the Associated Press June 18, 2009.

Thursday, June 18, 2009