To Protect and Kill: US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Management of Human–Wildlife Conflict, 1996-2011

In: Society & Animals
Michael J. Lynch Department of Criminology and Associated Faculty, The Patel School of Global Sustainability, University of South Florida Tampa

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Harms against nonhuman animals have become a significant concern in different disciplines (e.g., green criminology). This paper presents a multi-disciplinary discussion of one form of animal harm—wildlife harm—created by state agencies charged with protecting animals. Specifically, this issue is examined by reviewing the complex problems faced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which is charged with competing objectives: between protecting economic and public health interests, and protecting wildlife. In managing the human–wildlife conflicts brought to its attention, the USFWS must often make tradeoffs between protecting economic and public health interests, and protecting wildlife. As the data reviewed here indicate, this leads the USFWS to kill a large number of animals each year to protect economic and public health interests—more than 40 million animals since 1996. The political and economic factors that influence these killings, and how the state balances conflicting interests, are also examined.

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