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Registrations for pesticides must be renewed periodically for the pesticide to remain in use, and the Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing the registration for sodium cyanide, a poison that is the deadly ingredient in devices called M-44s (known as “cyanide bombs”), used to kill wildlife thought to pose a threat to livestock. M-44s cause immense suffering and death, and endanger nontarget wildlife species, companion animals, and humans. This registration should be canceled.
The FBI has listed sodium cyanide as a “super poison”—among the “highly toxic pesticides judged most likely to be used by terrorists or for malicious intent.” According to the EPA itself, sodium cyanide is a Category 1 toxic substance due to the imminent harm it poses to humans and the environment. Nonetheless, the EPA continues to renew its registration even though the agency is required by statute to cancel a registration when the pesticide causes “unreasonable risk to man or the environment.”
M-44s are small, spring-loaded devices that, once detonated, release sodium cyanide granules into the victim’s mouth, causing extreme distress before death, which may take hours. In addition, according to Wildlife Services’ own data for 2017, M-44s were responsible for the death of 200 nontarget animals. That year In Idaho, one detonated near a family’s home, killing their dog and seriously harming a 14-year-old boy. In Wyoming, M-44s killed two dogs in front of their families as they were out hiking.