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July 2, 2009

The HSUS Calls for More Humane, Effective Animal Management Methods

USDA Wildlife Services' Annual Report Shows Nearly 100,000 Animals Killed in Hawaii Alone

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is alarmed by a recently released report that Wildlife Services, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that responds to requests to address conflicts with wildlife, killed more than twice as many animals in FY 2008 as in FY 2007. The HSUS urges the Obama administration and state agencies to do more to implement nonlethal and more humane alternatives.

While The HSUS believes the federal government has a role to play in helping to alleviate wildlife-human conflicts, this program is far too heavily tilted toward lethal approaches and represents a misuse of taxpayer dollars. Animals are suffering needlessly through the use of archaic, inhumane and ineffective lethal wildlife control strategies.

The HSUS is particularly concerned about the impact of the program on wildlife in Hawaii, where Wildlife Services killed nearly 100,000 animals and killed the largest number of cats nationwide. More than 70 percent of Wildlife Services' animal eradication activities in Hawaii are performed on public land under contract with the Hawaii State Departments of Transportation, Agriculture, and Land and Natural Resources, and are funded by state and federal taxpayer dollars. Additional activities are performed under contract with private property owners and businesses.

"Whether the species is native or introduced, wildlife belongs to all the peoples of Hawaii," said Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for The HSUS. The HSUS has more than 48,000 supporters in Hawaii. "We look forward to continued discussions with USDA Wildlife Services, state agencies, policymakers and the community on implementing more effective and humane methods."

One more humane method is OvoControl, an avian contraceptive that interferes with reproduction in pigeons, ducks and other bird species. OvoControl has proven effective in reducing bird populations in communities across the country and has been approved for use in pigeons in Hawaii since September 2007. The HSUS has offered to partner on programs to reduce the feeding of birds and to better educate the public on reducing conflicts with wildlife.

The HSUS has also urged Wildlife Services to immediately halt the intentional shooting, snaring or use of foot-hold or body-gripping traps on dogs and cats. When removal is necessary, The HSUS instead urges Wildlife Services to use humane live-traps and work with local humane societies to determine if the dogs or cats may be lost or abandoned, so they can be reunited with their owners or caretakers, or be made available for adoption. State and county laws require humane societies and individuals to humanely trap stray animals, yet loopholes in these laws allow state and federal agencies to capture and kill animals using otherwise unapproved methods such as gunshot or foot-hold traps.

Additional details about Wildlife Services in Hawaii:

  • Wildlife Services targeted a total of 44 species in Hawaii, killing 95,358 animals in 2008. A large number of birds were killed, including sparrows, owls, chickens, house finches and cardinals.
  • More than 400 cats were killed in Hawaii in 2008; 451 were killed in 2007. Five of the cats killed in 2008 were captured using foot-hold traps. Animals have been known to chew off their own limbs in an attempt to escape foot-hold traps.
  • More than 60 dogs were killed in Hawaii, including 20 captured using foot-hold traps.
  • Of the 848 pigs killed, nearly half were captured using snares, which capture the animal by the neck or leg but do not immediately kill the animal. Snared animals may suffer for days or weeks before ultimately dying of starvation, dehydration or infection.
  • More than 12,000 zebra doves were killed in Hawaii in 2008, representing the largest number of bird species killed by gunshot in Hawaii.
  • Hawaii has the largest number of threatened and endangered species; however, the majority of funds (46 percent) was spent on property and agriculture related activities. Only 14 percent of Wildlife Services' funding in Hawaii was used for natural resource protection activities, which include projects to protect endangered or threatened species.

To view the report's findings for Hawaii, please click here. To view the statistics for all states, click here. More information from The HSUS on humane wildlife management techniques can be found here.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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