American tax dollars paid for the killing of 76,859 coyotes last year

Tax dollars killed 76,859 coyotes in 2016 -- and very few Americans are aware of that.

According to a report from The Conversation, Wildlife Services, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, killed the animals to "resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist."

Controlling predators that attack livestock has always been a controversial task.

Wildlife Services often use nonlethal techniques to curb predators, like livestock guard dogs, but it also kills tens of thousands of animals ever year, like including bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, hawks, cougars and wolves, according to The Conversation.

Coyotes have been a prime target since the first European explorers arrived in America centuries ago. They are killed to reduce the slaying of livestock, such as sheep and cows.

In a 2015 USDA report on sheep losses, ranchers reported that 33,510 adult sheep and 84,519 lambs were killed by coyotes. According to the American Sheep Industry Association, ranchers lost $20.5 million because of coyotes in 2014.

To the creatures in check, Wildlife Services trap them with neck snares, shoot them on the ground and from planes and helicopter, arm sheep with collars containing poison and distribute M-44 "bombs" that inject sodium cyanide into the mouths of animals that chew on them, The Conversation reports.

There is evidence that lethal control does not reduce human-predator conflict. In fact, it can actually make the problem worse.

Research shows that predators play key roles in maintaining ecosystems and the killing of predators has been compared to doctors overprescribing antibiotics to human patients -- the methods are often ineffective, but drastic measures make people feel like their needs are being addressed.

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