Trump Administration Authorizes 'Cyanide Bombs' To Kill Feral Animals

Trump Administration Authorizes 'Cyanide Bombs' To Kill Feral Animals

The Environmental Protection Agency has reauthorized the use of M-44s, poison-loaded traps that are used to kill wild animals considered pests.

The Trump administration has reauthorized government officials to use poison devices called M-44s, often referred to by critics as "cyanide bombs", to kill coyotes, foxes and other animals across the US, reports say. The spring-loaded traps spray sodium cyanide when triggered, and are used by agencies like the Wildlife Services to kill wild animals that farmers and ranchers would consider pests. 



The devices are embedded in the ground and spray the poison when activated by animals, such as coyotes and foxes, are attracted to bait nearby. On Tuesday, after completing the first phase of a routine review, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would allow sodium cyanide’s continued use in M-44s across the country on an interim basis, The Guardian reports. In 2018, Wildlife Services reported that its agents had dispatched more than 1.5 million native animals, including beavers to black bears, wolves, ducks, and owls - around 6,500 of which were killed by M-44s. 



The M-44s have faced opposition from environmental groups, who have called for a nationwide ban of the traps, calling them inhumane. “Cyanide traps can’t be used safely by anyone, anywhere,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “While the EPA added some restrictions, these deadly devices have caused too much harm to remain in use. We need a permanent nationwide ban to protect people, pets and imperiled wildlife from this poison.” Brooks Fahy, executive director of predator defense at the organization, said, “In my 25 years working with M-44 victims I've learned that Wildlife Services' agents frequently do not follow the use restrictions. And warning signs will not prevent more dogs, wild animals and potentially children from being killed. They cannot read them. M-44s are a safety menace and must be banned.” 



The M-44s have come under fire in the past for inadvertently killing domestic pets and endangered animals, as well as being a danger to humans. In 2017, an Idaho boy and his dog triggered one such trap, instantly killing the dog. The boy was rushed to the hospital where he eventually recovered. That year, Wildlife Services agreed to temporarily halt the use of M-44s in Colorado after environmental groups sued. The agency also stopped using them in Idaho after the aforementioned case came to light. While pressure to ban the device didn't make a difference to the EPA's decision, the agency has put restrictions on the use of the M-44, a prominent one being that the device can no longer be placed within 100 feet of a public road or trail.

Recommended for you