How Many Animals are Killed Each Year?

How many animals are killed for human use every year in the United States? The numbers are in the billions, and these are just the ones we know about. Let's break it down.

01
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How Many Animals are Killed for Food?

The Historic Wholesale Market Of Smithfield
Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images

According to The Humane Society of the United States approximately two billion cattle, chickens, ducks, hogs, sheep, lambs and turkeys were killed for food in the United States in 2015. While that number is staggering, the good news is that the number of animals being killed for human consumption has been steadily declining.

The bad news is that this number doesn't take into account the number of fish taken from the ocean for human consumption or the species and numbers of marine animals that become victims of fishermen who either refuse or are ignorant of devices to protect those animals.  

In 2009, about 20 billion sea animals were killed (by the US) for human consumption . . . Note that both the land and sea animal numbers are those killed by the US, not killed for US consumption (since we import and export much of the slaughter). Animals killed worldwide for Americans' food in 2009 amount to 8.3 billion land animals and 51 billion sea animals. (So, a total of about 59 billion animals.) You can see that those imports and exports make a huge difference.

These numbers also don't include wild animals killed by hunters, wildlife displaced by animal agriculture, wildlife directly killed by farmers with pesticides, traps or other methods.

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02
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How Many Animals are Killed for Vivisection (Experiments)?

Lab Rat
Lab Rat. China Photos / Getty Images

According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, over 100 million animals were killed in the United States alone in 2014. The numbers are difficult to estimate because the majority of animals used in research - rats, and mice - are unreported because they are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act.

Unreported: rats, mice, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.

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03
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How Many Animals are Killed for Fur?

Fox on a Russian fur farm.
Fox on a Russian fur farm. Oleg Nikishin / Newsmakers

Every year, over 40 million animals are killed for fur worldwide. Approximately 30 million animals are raised on fur farms and killed, about 10 million wild animals are trapped and killed for fur, and hundreds of thousands of seals are killed for fur.

In 2010, the quota for the Canadian seal hunt was 388,200, but the new European Union ban on seal products caused many sealers to stay home, and about 67,000 seals were killed. The ban is now the subject of a lawsuit before the European General Court and is temporarily suspended.

The fur industry did experience a drop in sales but is coming back. According to the USDA, "pelt production is up 6 percent." The industry jargon is disturbing too, as they refer to their animals as "crops."

These stats do not include Unwanted "trash" animals killed by traps; Seals who are injured, escape and die later.

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04
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How Many Animals are Killed by Hunters?

Deer fawns
Deer fawns. Tim Boyle / Getty Images

According to In Defense of Animals, over 200 million animals are reported killed by hunters in the United States every year.

This does not include animals killed illegally by poachers; animals who are injured, escape and die later; orphaned animals who die after their mothers are killed.

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05
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How Many Animals are Killed in Shelters?

Dogs in a shelter
Dogs in a shelter. Mario Tama / Getty Images

According to The Humane Society of the US, 3-4 million cats and dogs are killed in shelters in the United States every year.

Does not include: cats and dogs killed in animal cruelty cases, abandoned animals who die later

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Doris Lin, Esq. is an animal rights attorney and Director of Legal Affairs for the Animal Protection League of NJ. This article was edited by Michelle A. Rivera, Animal Rights Expert for About.com.

What you can do

The best way to help stop the slaughter of animals for food is to adopt a vegetarian diet. If you want to help stop hunting, get involved with your state's legislative processes for passing laws against hunting and poaching. This goes for fishing as well. Keep up with statistics so you can educate others, and don't feel overwhelmed. The Animal Rights Movement is growing every day and we see many more victories that ever.