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Endangered animals caught in fed snares

Endangered animals caught in fed snares
Challenger, the American Bald Eagle, lands on the field before the New York Yankees play the Chicago Cubs at Yankee Stadium in New York City on April 4, 2009. (UPI Photo/John Angelillo) | License Photo

SACRAMENTO, April 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. government has mistakenly killed more than 50,000 animals since 2000 in an attempt to cull those that are a threat, The Sacramento Bee found.

A branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture called Wildlife Services has long specialized in trapping and killing animals it deems to be a threat to the environment, agriculture and the public, such as coyotes. An investigation by The Sacramento Bee found federally protected golden and bald eagles, family pets and several species considered imperiled by wildlife biologists have also been killed.

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But because the culling of animals can stir emotions among the public, Wildlife Services tends to operate in the shadows, the newspaper said.

"We pride ourselves on our ability to go in and get the job done quietly without many people knowing about it," said Dennis Orthmeyer, acting state director of Wildlife Services in California.

Gary Strader, a former employee of the department, said he was troubled by his supervisor's reaction when he once discovered a golden eagle caught in a neck snare.

"He said, 'Did anybody see it?' I said, 'Geez, I don't think so.'

"He said, 'If you think nobody saw it, go get a shovel and bury it and don't say nothing to anybody.'

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"That bothered me," said Strader. "It wasn't right."

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