USDA Raises Barriers to Disclosure of Predator Control Info

August 13, 2008

The US Agriculture Department's "Wildlife Services" kills or removes animals that disturb the operations of farmers or ranchers. Until this year, the Associated Press reports, "anyone who wanted to know how many wolves, skunks or even robins that hunters for the U.S. Department of Agriculture shot, poisoned or snared across the nation could look it up on an agency Web site."

But the AP story filed July 31, 2008, noted that this year's report (covering 2007) left out the nationwide totals, forcing anyone who wanted them to look the data up state-by-state and total it up themselves. The agency had refused to post 2005 and 2006 data until conservation groups demanded that they follow a 2000 court ruling requiring them to do so.

The AP said USDA "spent $117 million in fiscal year 2007 to kill 2.4 million wild animals representing 319 species, up significantly from the year before."

USDA's first response to the AP story was to deny the 2007 changes were made to obscure the information. Later, following a FOIA request, USDA said it would post the information. So far, however, it has not been posted. Table G. Animals Taken by Component/Method Type and Fate by Wildlife Services '' FY 2007.