Animals & Money: How many millions are we spending to shoot coyotes?

The Environmental Group WildEarth Guardians says an anachronistic part of the Department of Agriculture spent $117 million last year to kill 2.4 million animals. The Wildlife Services has changed names plenty of times, but dates back to the days when the prevailing wisdom was just to wipe out any animals that got in the way of people. In its defense, the agency says it saves up to four times what it spends in agricultural losses. Of course, those would be private losses and we're spending tax money.

The agency just agreed to start putting out its data in a readable form after pressure from WildEarth Guardians. Meanwhile the animal group estimated that about half of those exterminated were starlings (an invasive bird) but 122,000 were carnivore mammals (like coyote and bear). The Wildlife Services program accidentally knocked off reindeer, pronghorn sheep, foxes, and bald eagles, says WildEarth Guardian's Wendy Keefover-Ring. Their sloppy application of poisons has killed off pet dogs, like Jenna, a lab mix poisoned while hunting rabbits. Most tragically, 10 people have died in aerial shooting programs.

Sure, some ranchers should be compensated for wildlife losses. The government should cooperate so frustrated ranchers don't take matters into their own hands. But the wildlife bureacracy has spread to cover all kinds of entrepreneurs from the cost of doing business. They also kill bears to protect logging companies (bears like seedlings). Federal agents bumped off 300,000 blackbirds who's big crime was eating sunflowers grown for birdseed. Fish farmers get protection from birds, too.Some of the money does come from state or even private funds. But the agency hasn't made it easy to figure out how much they're spending on what. About $56 million of the $117 comes from private funds. The USDA budget for next year lists $77 million for wildlife services operation, plus another $41 million on pest detection. Remember how the federal government wants to kill wild horses because they're too expensive to keep? That's only $37 million to manage the entire species.

Keefover-Ring is most outraged over the aerial hunting, which she calls ineffective "dumb and dangerous." Since the agency started mass-killing coyotes in 1915, their range has tripled, she says. Last year the USDA killed more than 90,000 coyotes, she says. Texas alone spent $14 million to kill 19,000 coyotes--at about $740 per canine.

The agency is starting to play with non-lethal devices that scare predators away, protect crops and livestock or prevent predators from breeding. But WildEarth says they can't tell from public documents how much money and effort they're really putting into non-lethal control. Meanwhile, taxpayers are paying both to protect wildlife and to kill it.

"One agency reintroduces animals and while you have another killing them. Makes a lot of sense," she says.

Getting Divorced

If you're going through a divorce, taxes may be the last thing on your mind, so we're here to help. We've got tips for you on which filing status to choose after the divorce, who can claim the exemptions for the kids, and how payments to an ex-spouse are treated for tax purposes.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

5 Tax Tips for Single Parents

Filing taxes as a single parent requires coordination between you and your ex-spouse or partner. Usually the custodial parent claims the child as a dependent, but there are exceptions. A single parent is allowed to claim applicable deductions and exemptions for each qualifying child. Even though you claim your child as a dependent, she may still have to file her own tax return if she has income, such as from an after-school job.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

7 Requirements for the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit can reduce your tax bill by as much as $1,000 per child, if you meet all seven requirements: 1. age, 2. relationship, 3. support, 4. dependent status, 5. citizenship, 6. length of residency and 7. family income. You and/or your child must pass all seven to claim this tax credit.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Guide to Filing Taxes as Head of Household

The IRS has provided a series of guidelines to help taxpayers understand whether or not they qualify to file as head of household.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com
Read Full Story

Want more news like this?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from business news to personal finance tips delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.