The Environmental Protection Agency is reversing course just a week after reauthorizing use of "cyanide bombs" to kill wild animals that pose a threat to livestock. Public outcry followed the decision to continue to allow the spring-loaded devices that spray sodium cyanide into the mouths of coyotes, foxes, and other animals lured by bait, reports the Guardian. Critics said the bombs, officially known as M-44 traps, had killed endangered species and pets. A 14-year-old in Idaho was even injured—he also watched his dog die—when an M-44 went off in a field near his home in 2017. The "issue warrants further analysis and additional discussions" between the EPA and the government agencies that use M-44s, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Thursday in withdrawing the interim decision.
The EPA's preliminary interim authorization had come well in advance of a report on the devices' effects, due in 2021, per the Huffington Post. "I'm thrilled that the EPA just reversed its wrongheaded decision" and "hope the feds finally recognize the need for a permanent ban to protect people, pets, and imperiled wildlife from this poison," says Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity. The center noted in May that more than 99.9% of the 22,000-plus people who commented on the EPA's proposal during the public comment period were against allowing use of the device. Previously the EPA said M-44s would only be used "on or within 7 miles of a ranch unit or allotment where losses due to predation by wild canids are occurring," per the Hill. (Read more Environmental Protection Agency stories.)