Why the Feds Killed 3 Million Animals Last Year
Controversial culling hits starlings the worst
By Alex Tirpack,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2015 1:02 PM CDT
A European starling eats berries from a tree in Pittsfield, Mass.   (AP Photo/The Berkshire Eagle, Stephanie Zollshan)

(Newser) Mother Jones calls it President Obama's "kill list," but it's probably not one you'd expect. This newly released list covers the nearly 3 million animals among 319 different species that the government killed last year. Most were classified as invasive species in one regard or another, and the USDA says they need to be controlled to protect the national food supply. For example, over a million European starlings were poisoned in the name of saving the nation's feedlots, and 30,000 feral swine were killed in part because of the ease with which they can spread disease to livestock.

While the government maintains that the practice is a necessary evil, and fewer animals were killed in 2014 than in previous years, opponents have called for reevaluating the cull. At Mother Jones, Tim Murphy points out some contradictions: "The USDA killed cats (730) to save rats, but if you're scoring at home, it also killed 1,327 black rats, 353 Norway rats, 74 Hutia rats, 7 Polynesian rats, 4 bushy-tailed woodrats, and 3 kangaroo rats." And a Vocativ blogger writes that the killing methods aren't always the most humane, noting that coyotes are killed with "cruel ankle traps."