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Rep. Peter DeFazio Presses for “Cyanide Bomb” Ban on Federal Lands

Aug 6, 2021
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today introduced “Canyon’s Law”, legislation to ban the use of M-44 lethal predator devices on federal public lands.

“The deadly toxin sodium cyanide – used in M-44 devices – has led to countless deaths of family pets, innocent animals, and injury of humans as well,” said Rep. DeFazio.  “There’s no reason USDA Wildlife Services should be using such dangerous chemicals in the name of so-called predator control, and certainly not on public lands, which belong to all of us.”

“Oregon’s 2019 decision to ban cyanide bombs should send a clear message to Congress. It’s time to do the right thing and ban M-44s before another child is poisoned or another dog is killed.  A public lands ban of these horrific devices will go a long way towards that goal,” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of the national wildlife advocacy group, Predator Defense, who has worked with M-44 victims for close to 30 years.

“M-44 cyanide bombs have caused immense and unnecessary suffering across our nation’s public lands, harming people, pets and wildlife,” said Carson Barylak, Campaigns Manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “Canyon courageously took up the fight to ban these devices after experiencing their devastating impacts firsthand, and leaders in Congress must now ensure that this important public safety bill becomes law.”

“Cyanide traps are indiscriminate killers and have caused too much harm to remain in use on our public lands,” said Collette Adkins, Carnivore Conservation Program Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Congress must pass this bill to protect people, pets and imperiled wildlife from this poison.”

“Wildlife Services’ refusal to end the use of M-44 sodium cyanide devices shows both an unwillingness to transition away from archaic lethal methods, as well as a cruel indifference to the threats posed to people, pets, and wildlife,” said Cathy Liss, President of the Animal Welfare Institute. “These dangerous devices have no place on America’s public lands. We are grateful for Congressman DeFazio’s leadership in working to end the use of this inhumane method.” 

Canyon’s Law would ban the use of M-44 sodium cyanide devices for predator control efforts on public lands. The bill is supported by Predator Defense, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Welfare Institute, and the Western Watersheds Project.

The bill is named for Canyon Mansfield, an Idaho boy who was walking on Bureau of Land Management land near his home with his dog in 2017. His dog activated a M-44 device, and Canyon watched helplessly as his beloved companion suffered a cruel and painful death. Thankfully the wind pushed much of the cyanide away from Canyon, yet he still suffers health effects four years later.

Sodium cyanide is contained within M-44 devices, which are spring-activated ejectors that deliver a deadly dose of poison when pulled on. The top of the ejector is wrapped with an absorbent material that has been coated with a substance that attracts canines. When the device is activated, a spring ejects the poison. The force of the ejector can spray the cyanide granules up to five feet.

Wildlife Services regularly uses this device in their predator control programs, which are subsidized by  taxpayers. States contract with federal predator control programs to keep so-called ‘predator’ populations down.

USDA reports show that the primary causes of cattle and sheep deaths in the U.S. are health problems, weather, theft, and other maladies, but not wolves or other native carnivores. In fact, a 2014 and 2015 inventory of cattle and sheep found that less than one percent (0.4 percent) died from any type of carnivore, including coyotes, domestic dogs, and cougars. Predators are crucial for balanced ecosystems. The science shows that decimating predator populations could be detrimental to local ecosystems.