The Environmental Protection Agency has reauthorized the use of “cyanide bombs” to kill coyotes, foxes and other wild animals across the United States. The controversial chemical traps have also killed domestic pets as well as injuring humans in the past.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the traps are meant to protect livestock on behalf of farmers, however environmental groups state they are inhumane. The M-44 devices, which trap wildlife with bait and then release sodium cyanide into their mouths, is generally regarded as inhumane which “indiscriminately kills thousands of animals every year.”
Wildlife Services, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture has been authorized to use these traps in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Texas.
“According to Wildlife Services’ own data, M-44s killed 6,579 animals, mostly coyotes and foxes, in 2018, down from 13,232 animals in 2017. Of these, more than 200 deaths were nontarget animals, including foxes, opossums, raccoons, skunks and a bear. These numbers probably significantly under-estimate the true death toll since Wildlife Services is notorious for poor data collection and an entrenched “shoot, shovel, shut up” mentality.”
An overwhelming majority from the general public when opened up for public discussion, rejected the use of the traps.
“The overwhelming majority of comments from the general public, including the more than 20,000 letters from the write-in campaign, did not support the continued registration of sodium cyanide predacide…,” the EPA wrote in their proposal.
In 2017, M-44s temporarily blinded a child and killed three family dogs in Idaho and Wyoming. In addition a wolf was killed in Oregon. Idaho and Oregon have since banned their use.
Although the EPA has since added some restrictions which includes the poisonous devices can not be placed within 100 feet of a public roadway or path increased to 50 feet. Signs must also be made more prominent within 15 feet of each trap – decreased from 25 feet. People living within a half-mile of an M-44 placement must be notified. None of these new restrictions, however do not protect any wildlife or domestic pets.
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