Wildlife-Killing Cyanide ‘Bombs’ Ban Sought by Environmentalists

By Tiffany Stecker

A coalition of environmental groups wants the EPA to ban chemicals that kill coyotes, wolves and other predators in farming and ranching communities, as part of a growing effort to ban devices that accidentally kill hundreds of wild and domestic animals annually.

Eighteen groups have filed a petition to cancel the registrations of sodium cyanide capsules, following up on a similar petition in January to stop allowing the use of sodium fluoroacetate, known as Compound 1080. The Environmental Protection Agency approval allows the Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services office to use the chemicals in M-44 ejector devices, traps that detonate when an animal or person touches it.

More than 300 animals were accidentally killed by the devices last year, according to Wildlife Services. In March, a teenage boy walking his dog set off a device, spewing cyanide dust on him and killing his dog. In the same month, two dogs near Casper, Wyo., died from the traps.

The petition to the EPA is part of a multi-pronged approach across several agencies and Congress to end the use of the devices, Collette Adkins, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, told Bloomberg BNA. The center and three other groups sued the Fish and Wildlife Service in April for failing to protect species listed under the Endangered Species Act from the devices. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) also introduced in March a bill ( H.R. 1817) to ban the cyanide “bombs.”

“All of this is coming from this groundswell of public outrage over these devices,” Adkins said.

Registering Since 1970s

The EPA started registering cyanide capsules in the 1970s for the Agriculture Department and state agriculture offices. At least two facilities in Brighton, Colo., and Pocatello, Idaho, manufacture the ejector devices for USDA’s use.

USDA’s Wildlife Services said June 15 it would review the standards proper use of the M-44 ejector devices, and requiring that program staff place signs within 15 feet of each device, rather than the 25 feet established by the EPA.

Wildlife Services spokesman Andre Bell told Bloomberg BNA in a statement that the agency understands the concern regarding the use of the devices, and works to ensure the safe and responsible use of M-44s.

“Wildlife Services has a long track record of safe and effective use of M-44s. Reviews by the [EPA] and USDA Office of the Inspector General affirm that [Wildlife Services] uses these devices, along with other predator management tools, safely and responsibly,” he said.

EPA will review the petition, an agency spokeswoman said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Stecker in Washington at tstecker@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

For More Information

The petition is at http://src.bna.com/rB0.

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