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EPA Makes Contentious Decision on 'Cyanide Bombs'

Trump administration reauthorizes M-44 traps to kill predator wildlife
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2019 7:28 AM CDT
This March 16, 2017, file photo shows an M-44 cyanide device in Pocatello, Idaho.   (Bannock County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
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(Newser) – The Environmental Protection Agency has just reupped authorization of a controversial device designed to protect livestock from predators, but which critics call a "safety menace" against other animals and humans. CBS News reports the EPA has given the green light for the USDA's Wildlife Services, as well as agencies in five states, to make use of M-44s: The traps release deadly sodium cyanide into the mouths of wild animals such as coyotes and foxes when they bite into the trap's bait. But while farmers and ranchers appreciate these "cyanide bombs," the Guardian notes the traps have also accidentally killed off endangered species and pets and even injured people, including an Idaho teen who in 2017 triggered one while walking his dog (the dog died; the teen recovered).

The head of the Predator Defense nonprofit calls the EPA's decision a "complete disaster" and the traps a "safety menace." The Center for Biological Diversity slams the M-44s as "inhumanely and indiscriminately killing thousands of animals every year." Even the EPA notes in its interim decision that "the overwhelming majority of comments from the general public did not support the continued registration of [M-44 devices]." The agency has still given the OK, however, hoping that updated safety measures—including better signage and an increase in the minimum distance between a trap and a public road or path from 50 feet to 100—will prevent accidents. One of the biggest updates: Notification must be given to anyone living within a half-mile of where an M-44 is placed. (Read more Trump administration stories.)

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