The Trump administration has re-authorized the use of poison traps otherwise known ass “cyanide bombs” to kill wild foxes, coyotes and feral dogs despite a strong push back from conservation groups.
The devices, or M-44s, are implanted in the ground and look a lot like lawn sprinklers.
They use a spring-loaded ejector to release sodium cyanide when an animal tugs on its baited capsule holder.
The government stopped the use of the devices last year after one of them was responsible for injuring an Idaho boy as well as killing his dog.
The family has also filed a case against the federal government.
The choice to re-instate their use was announced in the Federal Registrar earlier this month and was met with severe opposition by environmental groups that led a campaign to flood the Environmental Protection Agency with over 20,000 letters.
“They’re incredibly dangerous to people, their pets and endangered wildlife, they’re just too risky to be used,” carnivore conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity, Collette Adkins, shared with AFP earlier this month.
“The livestock industry wants it,” she said, adding that agriculture industry groups sent around 10 comments in favor of re-authorizing M-44s to the EPA.
In 2018, M-44s killed 6,579 animals, including more than 200 “nontarget” animals including opossums, raccoons, skunks and a bear according to government data.
“These numbers probably significantly under-estimate the true death toll since Wildlife Services is notorious for poor data collection and an entrenched ‘shoot, shovel, shut up’ mentality,” the Center for Biological Diversity revealed in a statement.
The EPA was able to add certain new restrictions, including that devices may not be placed within 100 feet of the road and that a warning should be required to be placed within 15 feet of the device.
That being said, it would not reduce deaths of non-target wildlife.
Adkins shared her organization would continue to lobby for state-level bans – that latest of which was passed in May by the state of Oregon.