Thursday, May 03, 2018

Feds reconsider explosive cyanide devices used to kill coyotes after Idaho teen poisoned and dog dies

Federal officials are considering whether to ban the explosive cyanide devices used to kill coyotes and foxes, one year after a Pocatello, Idaho, teenage boy was sickened and his dog died from accidentally setting off one of the M-44 "bombs". "In February, a coalition of environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, forced the Department of Agriculture to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate whether the devices should be banned," Trevor Hughes reports for USA Today.

Environmental groups have long opposed M-44s, saying they could accidentally kill endangered species. Farmers and ranchers generally support M-44s, saying they're an inexpensive way to kill predators. "A 2015 federal survey concluded that predators, including foxes and coyotes, killed $32 million worth of sheep, $18 million worth of goats and nearly $60 million worth of cattle in a single year," Hughes reports. Chase Adams, a spokesman for the American Sheep Industry Association, told Hughes that some ranchers lost 30 percent of their flocks in 2017 after M-44s were temporarily banned because of the Idaho case.

M-44s are still banned in Idaho because of that incident, and they're also forbidden in Colorado and Northern California. But the devices are legal on other federal lands, as well as state lands in Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and South Dakota. Sixteen states use them, including Virginia and West Virginia, Hughes reports. The USDA's agreement with environmental groups gives the federal government until Dec. 31, 2021 to decide whether M-44s should be legal, and allows the continued use of the bombs until then.

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