US agency to stop using ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill coyotes and other predators, citing safety concerns

Reno, Nev. (AP) - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has halted the use of spring-loaded traps that disperse cyanide powder to kill coyotes and other livestock predators, after wildlife advocates have sought to outlaw the practice for decades because of safety concerns. have tried.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Division of Wildlife Services, the M-44 ejector-device, which critics call the "cyanide bomb", has inadvertently killed thousands of pets and non-predatory wildlife, including endangered species. They have an aromatic bait and emit a toxic cloud when ingested by physical disturbance.

The Bureau of Land Management quietly posted a notice on its website last week that it would no longer use the tools in the 390,625 square miles (1,011,714 square kilometers) it manages nationally — an area twice the size. California - Most of it is where pastoralists graze cattle and sheep.

Other federal agencies — including the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service — already ban the devices. But the Forest Service and 10 states still use them in some form.

Eight unsuccessful bills have been introduced in Congress since 2008 to ban trapping on federal and/or state lands. Sponsors of legislation pending in the U.S. House and Senate that would ban both of them say they are optimistic that the bureau's new status will help pave the way for broader support.

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Brooks Fahey, Executive Director oregonPredator Defense, a U.S.-based monitoring group, has been working for 40 years to ban the use of sodium cyanide in traps. He stressed that it is registered as a Category 1 toxic substance under the Environmental Protection Agency, which is the highest level of toxicity.

"I can't believe they're still being put out into the landscape and they're hurting people," Fahey said. "I saw an M-44 parked right at the edge of a trail."

The M-44 consists of a part buried in the ground with a spring and a canister filled with chemicals. Marked inconsistently and sometimes not at all, humans have mistaken them for sprinkler heads or survey markers.

Federal agencies rely on wildlife services to deal with problem animals – whether in remote areas or at airports across the country – using lethal and non-lethal force. The changes on Bureau of Land Management lands came under a recent amendment to a memorandum of understanding with Wildlife Services obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.

It is effective immediately but may be revoked by either party upon 60 days' notice.

Wildlife services have used the M-44 to control hunters since the 1930s, especially in the West. The American Sheep Industry Association and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association were among 100 industry groups that wrote to Congress this year emphasizing the importance of the program. He said hunters cause more than $232 million in livestock losses annually.

According to Predator Defense, about a dozen people have been seriously harmed by M-44s on federal lands over the past 25 years.

Between 2000–16, wildlife services reported 246,985 animals killed by M-44s, including at least 1,182 dogs. From 2014-22, M-44s intentionally killed 88,000 animals and killed more than 2,000 animals unintentionally, the agency said.

Public outrage over equipment The increase came after a family dog ​​was killed in Pocatello in 2017, idaho, and Canyon Mansfield, then 14, was injured after a device placed on public land about 400 feet (122 m) from his home was accidentally triggered. In 2020, the federal Government admitted negligence and agreed to pay the family $38,500 to settle the lawsuit.

"We are very pleased to finally see one federal government department sanctioning the reckless and indiscriminate actions of another," Mark Mansfield, Canyon Mansfield's father, said last week.

Democratic Representative Jared Huffman of California, the lead sponsor of a bill that would outlaw M-44 use on all state and federal lands, has named the current version "Canyon Law" after Mansfield.

Huffman praised the bureau's move last week, saying, "Cyanide bombs are a cruel and indiscriminate device that have proven deadly to pets, humans, and wildlife – and they have no business on our public lands."

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the lead sponsor of the companion legislation in the Senate, said he was encouraged by the Biden administration taking a "positive step toward keeping cyanide bombs off our public lands."

Fahey acknowledged that congressional efforts to ban the use of the M-44 have gained little momentum over the past 15 years.

But he said the publicity from the Mansfield case has changed the political landscape the most since 1982, when President Ronald Reagan rescinded an executive order issued by President Richard Nixon in 1972 that prohibited the use of firearms by federal agents on federal lands. The use of all poisons was banned.

Several weeks after Canyon Mansfield was poisoned, Fahey said Wildlife Services agreed to stop using M-44 in Idaho. Two years later, Oregon banned them Statewide and partial ban to come into effect soon new Mexico Where some state agencies may still use them.

Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming M-44 is still allowed.

Fahey said the Bureau of Land Management's new policy — which specifically referenced the Mansfield case last week — is "a big deal" that should help build momentum for a nationwide ban.

"This is the most needlestick on federal poison use in the last 40 years," he said. "I think the days of the M-44 are numbered."

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