The devices are purportedly used to kill coyotes, foxes and wild dogs in addressing conflicts with livestock.
Yet anything or anyone that pulls on the baited M-44 device can be killed or severely injured by the deadly spray; as was the case of a child who was temporarily blinded by the toxic spray.
Similar news that WAN has reported on, such as the tragedy in March that left a teenage boy hurt and his beloved Labrador Retriever, dead, make it exceedingly clear that these dangerous devices pose serious risks of accidental injury and fatality for people, family dogs, and imperiled wildlife.
In response, the federal government has suggested bigger warning signs; an unproven and completely inadequate measure made even more ridiculous because animals cannot read (as far as we know yet).
“Cyanide traps are indiscriminate killers that just can’t be used safely,” Colette Atkins, an attorney, and biologist at the Center said in a release; calling a permanent nationwide ban on them the only answer.
The EPA has registered sodium cyanide for use in M-44s by Wildlife Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife-killing program, as well as by certain state agencies in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Texas.
“The federal government has a paramount duty to protect people and wildlife from deadly poisons that unnecessarily endanger the public, wildlife and companion animals,” said Kelly Nokes, carnivore advocate at WildEarth Guardians. “Given the wide array of non-lethal, effective conflict management tools available today, the use of dangerous and indiscriminate M-44s should immediately and permanently cease.”
According to USDA Wildlife Services’ own data, M-44s killed 13,530 animals, mostly coyotes, and foxes, in 2016. Of these 321 deaths were nontarget animals, including family dogs, a black bear, possums, raccoons, skunks and a fisher.