The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife damage management program, Wildlife Services, posted its annual Program Data Reports for fiscal year 2020. The reports are available on the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service webpage, representing the 25th year that WS has shared this information about its wildlife damage management activities.
APHIS Wildlife Services’ activities seek to reduce or eliminate more than an estimated $232 million in livestock loss due to predation and $150 million in bird damage to crops caused by native and invasive wildlife annually. Comprehensive estimates of all types of wildlife damage are difficult to gauge, but each year wildlife strikes cause $625 million in loss to American civil aviation while also posing a potential loss of life. APHIS responds to requests for assistance from individuals, companies and other government agencies when wildlife causes or threatens damage to human health/safety, agriculture, natural resources and property.
In FY20, APHIS encountered about 22.5 million animals while responding to calls for assistance and dispersed nearly 21 million wildlife from urban, rural and other settings where they were causing damage. APHIS dispersed almost 93 percent of the animals encountered. Not all conflicts can be resolved with nonlethal methods alone. Of all wildlife encountered, WS lethally removed 6.7 percent or 1.5 million, in targeted areas to reduce damage. Invasive species accounted for 71 percent (1,075,704) and native species 29 percent (433,192). Of the wildlife lethally removed:
- 74 percent were either an invasive species or a native blackbird listed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Depredation Order due to the damage they cause.
- The invasive species removed included more than 15,000 brown tree snakes on Guam, 113,331 feral swine and 790,000 European starlings.
- Of native wildlife lethally removed, 62,700 were coyotes. Coyotes reportedly kill more than 300,000 head of livestock annually and injure even more.
- 57,000 were native Northern pike minnow that APHIS removed to protect federally threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.
Where WS uses lethal control, APHIS works to make full use of the resource which includes the donation of 129 tons of goose, deer/elk and other meat – nearly 1 million servings of protein – for people in need.
In FY 2020, APHIS used $83.9 million in appropriated funds to help manage wildlife damage operations in every state and territory and to support special programs, such as managing feral swine damage and rabies in raccoons and other wildlife. APHIS also received funding from program cooperators, including federal and state agencies, counties, agricultural producer groups, other organizations, businesses and individuals. This allows the program to maximize its scope and effectiveness. During FY 2020, WS received $101.6 million in cooperator-provided funding (55 percent) for field-based operational wildlife damage management.
APHIS used almost half (43 percent) of WS’ operational funding for field activities to reduce or prevent wildlife hazards to human health and safety, such as wildlife collisions with aircraft and disease transmission. APHIS spent about one-quarter (28 percent) of its funding to protect agriculture, including livestock, row crops, aquaculture and timber. APHIS spent the remaining 28 percent on protection of property and natural resources, including threatened and endangered species.
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