M-44 Cyanide Bombs Killed 164 Wyoming Coyotes in 2017
The U.S. Department of Agriculture in an annual report released last month lists 164 coyotes killed in Wyoming with M-44 “cyanide bombs” in 2017.
Including the number killed by the baited, poison devices, the federal program dispatched 4,503 coyotes in the state, the report shows. The killings were part of department efforts to protect a wide variety of resources, including farm and ranch livestock, from wildlife damage.
The 2017 M-44 coyote death number was 72 fewer than were killed by the devices in 2016 — 236 coyotes — according to records. Some residents have criticized the devices that spray a lethal dose of poison into the mouths of animals that take the bait. Critics say M-44s are indiscriminate and could kill non-targeted species, including pets.
An M-44 placed on private property killed two dogs near Casper last year, for example, prompting an outcry. The federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, the arm of the Department of Agriculture that operates the killing program, listed two unintentional wildlife deaths by M-44s last year, both red foxes.
M-44s killed another 36 red foxes as intended, the report says.
Use of M-44s is under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services for their potential effect on endangered species, said Collette Adkins, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that sued over M-44 use. The center, along with other groups, challenged the federal government’s use of sodium cyanide, the active ingredient in M-44s, and another poison, compound 1080. The groups settled that action earlier this year in an agreement that sets a 2021 deadline for the review, she said.
Some agriculture interests in Wyoming have rejected using M-44s in areas where endangered species roam in numbers.
Once Fish and Wildlife has concluded its review, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates use of M-44s, will decide how and whether the state and Wildlife Services, the arm of the department that carries out the wildlife damage program, can continue using them.
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