After significant public outrage regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reauthorize M-44 “cyanide bombs” to kill predators, the agency reversed course. One week after the initial announcement, the agency said it was withdrawing the interim reauthorization and would reevaluate the safety of the devices.
M-44s, which look like innocuous sprinkler heads, contain a scent lure to draw in species such as coyotes and foxes. When the animal tugs on the lure, the trigger is activated and sodium cyanide is sprayed into the animal’s mouth. M-44s have killed hundreds of nontarget animals, including companion dogs and imperiled species such as bald eagles, grizzly bears, and wolves. In one well-publicized case, a boy was seriously injured and watched his beloved dog die after triggering an M-44 placed near his home in Idaho. (See AWI Quarterly, summer 2017.) Shortly after the incident, USDA Wildlife Services suspended (but did not permanently ban) the use of M-44s in Idaho but continued their use elsewhere.