Predator-deterring ‘cyanide bombs’ banned on Wyoming public lands
WYOMING — On Wednesday, Nov. 22, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) banning the use of M-44 devices or what are known as cyanide bombs, on 245 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) federal lands. These devices have been used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to kill predators on public land that may pose a threat to private domestic livestock.
According to the BLM, M-44s are spring-loaded ejectors, staked in the ground at surface level, and when an animal pulls on a baited trigger, the trap releases a lethal dose of sodium cyanide spray into the biting animal’s mouth.
In 2019, a Cheyenne federal court approved a ban on M-44 use by Wildlife Services across more than 10 million acres of public land in Wyoming. Part of this approved agreement, also required the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats and other wildlife in Wyoming.
M-44 cyanide devices have also been implicated in several incidents, such as the death of a family dog in 2017, the injury of a child when accidentally triggering a device placed on public land 400 feet from their home and the long-term injury of a recreationist who triggered a M-44 while recreating on BLM-managed public land, per the U.S. Department Of The Interior (DOI) BLM website.
Due to public pressure and a petition submitted from over 70 conservation groups, Legislation known as Canyon’s Law, urging M-44s to be banned on all public lands, was introduced into Congress on June 29.
“This is a major victory for Wyoming wildlife,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Center attorney representing the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit. “These deadly cyanide weapons should be banned everywhere.”
M-44s are not used on DOI lands administered by the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Bureau of Reclamation. M-44s are still used on National Forest lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service.