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for people who care about the West

West Obsessed: What’s the deal with Wildlife Services?

For an agency that researches non-lethal predator control, they sure kill a lot of critters. HCN writers discuss an agency trying to rethink its role.


In 2014, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture called Wildlife Services killed 796 bobcats, 322 wolves, 580 black bears, 305 cougars, 1,186 red foxes, and 61,702 coyotes. Such high numbers have helped fuel the agency’s bloody reputation among environmentalists; however, they actually are among the lowest in two decades. In this episode of “West Obsessed,” High Country News Managing Editor Brian Calvert, Contributing Editor Sarah Gilman and Correspondent Ben Goldfarb discuss a paradoxical agency that has spent millions of dollars on non-lethal methods it has been unable to fully use.

“West Obsessed” is an occasional audio series produced in collaboration with KVNF community radio in Paonia, Colorado, where the editors and writers of High Country News discuss stories about the American West and why they matter.

Read the related story, Wildlife Services and its eternal war on predators, by Ben Goldfarb here.