Biden Administration can speak with one voice to ban insidious explosive devices that kill indiscriminately
Washington, D.C. – Animal Wellness Action lauded the Department of the Interior for its move to ban the use of M-44 “cyanide bombs” on Bureau of Land Management lands but questioned why the U.S. Department of Agriculture is still deploying them anywhere in the United States.
“The Department of the Interior deserves praise for barring the use of poison-laced explosives on millions of acres of federal lands, said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “But why is the USDA’s Wildlife Services program still putting these bombs out on any lands in our nation, including on national forests in a raft of states?”
USDA’s Wildlife Services program has for decades used these devices that are meant to kill coyotes and other animals. According to Wildlife Services’ own data, M-44s killed 6,000 animals in 2022. More than 150 of these animals included dogs or foxes.
These are indiscriminate devices proven to kill and harm a variety of animals, including pets, and pose a serious deadly risk to humans. Such indiscriminate weapons must be banned from all public and private lands, and today, the group says.
The Biden Administration’s Department of the Interior, which oversees the BLM, has announced the signing of an updated memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services program prohibiting use of these M-44 devices on the 245 million acres the bureau manages.
But USDA’s Wildlife Services program has for decades used the devices that are meant to kill coyotes and other animals.
The big-picture story here is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture houses a program whose agents kill millions of wild animals a year at taxpayer expense and endanger citizens.
The program’s use of M-44s were used in 2022 in 10 states: Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. State agencies in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Texas are also authorized to use M-44s.
The steady stream of horrific wildlife deaths from much suffering caused by M-44s rarely makes the news, partly because it’s been going on for so long. But when a human or pet triggers the devices, people sit up and take notice. This news should prompt us to take a fresh look at a government program that is as obscure as it is deadly, the group says.
In April 2016 a federal agent placed an M-44 cyanide bomb on public lands in eastern Idaho. As intended, it detonated, but the agent missed his target and claimed a couple of unintended victims: a 14-year-old boy, Canyon Mansfield, was sprayed as the poison shot out of the explosive device. He survived, but his dog Casey, who was also sprayed, didn’t. Days before, M-44s killed two more dogs – Molly and Abby – in Wyoming when they were out for a hike with their family (including a child).
“There is simply no reason for the federal government to keep spending millions of dollars every year to use poisons to kill wildlife, on behalf of a small group of ranchers who can use alternative methods of mitigating conflicts,” said Mr. Pacelle, who led ballot initiatives in California and Washington to ban the use of M-44s a generation ago.