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Judge Says Fed Agency Killed Millions Of Wild Animals While Ignoring Important Science

A U.S. District Court sided with wildlife advocates this week. It ruled that a federal agency ignored scientific studies that did not support its justification for killing animals.

Each year, millions of wild animals are removed or killed by the Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services on behalf of ranchers, farmers, homeowners, and airport operators.

Andrea Santarsiere is with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit in the State of Idaho.

"What the court found is that Wild Services essentially cherry-picked the scientific studies that justified their program, and ignored all of the studies that said their wildlife killing may be ineffective," said Santarsiere.  

For example, Santarsiere said there’s a growing body of studies that say removing native predators like wolves or coyotes is not effective in boosting deer or elk populations.

Other federal agencies were critical of Wildlife Services methods including the Bureau of Land Management. Santarsiere said they cited the lack of scientific review, "And wildlife services failed to respond to those criticisms."

The court will hold another round of briefings to decide what will happen moving forward. This will affect wildlife management across the country. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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