Despite significant public outcry and prolific evidence of the inherent dangers of the devices, the Environmental Protection Agency reauthorized the use of M-44 sodium cyanide bombs in early December. The federal wildlife-killing program, Wildlife Services, and certain states are allowed to place the devices on private and sometimes public lands.
M-44s are generally set to kill coyotes, but any animal attracted to a baited lure may fall victim, including domestic dogs, wolves, black and grizzly bears, and bald eagles. M-44s have injured people, killed family pets, and maimed and killed threatened and endangered species.
The EPA’s reauthorization includes three minor improvements to the labeling restrictions on these deadly devices: (1) an expansion of the distance from trails and roadways where M-44s may be placed from 100 to 300 feet, (2) a requirement for a second sign to be placed notifying people that an M-44 is in the area, and (3) a prohibition on placement of M-44s within 600 feet of a residence without written permission of the homeowner. However, the new limitations do nothing to alleviate the risks to nontarget wildlife.
The new restrictions also fail to address the clear issue that the former labeling guidelines were not being followed by those using the cyanide bombs. The way to keep people, wildlife, and companion animals safe is via a total ban.