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Reps. Peter DeFazio and Matt Gaetz Call For Ban on Lethal Predator Control Poisons

May 2, 2019
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today re-introduced with Rep. Matt Gaetz bipartisan legislation, the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2019, also known as “Canyon’s Law,” to ban the use of two lethal poisons for predator control purposes.

“The unnecessary use of these deadly toxins by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services has led to countless deaths of family pets and innocent animals, as well as injuries to humans,” said Rep. DeFazio. “It is only a matter of time before they kill someone. The federal government should not be using these extreme measures in the name of so-called ‘predator control’.”

“Cyanide bombs have no place on public land,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-01). “These dangerous devices threaten animals and humans alike. Better—and more humane—predator-control tools and techniques already exist. I am glad to join Congressman DeFazio in introducing this common-sense bipartisan legislation, which will enhance public safety across America.” 

“The fact that Wildlife Services continues to state that incidents of M-44s killing domestic dogs and exposing people to poison are 'rare' is an outrage,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of the national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense. “Those of us involved with this issue know these incidents are common-place and that countless more will never be known because of Wildlife Services' repeated cover-ups."

The Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2019, H.R. 2471, would ban the use of Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide for predator control efforts. The bill is supported by Predator Defense, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Humane Society.

Compound 1080 is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless poison with no antidote. Although the EPA banned Compound 1080 in 1972, after intense lobbying from the livestock industry, it was re-approved for use in the "Livestock Protection Collar" (collars containing the poison that are placed around the necks of sheep and burst when punctured by a predator, barbed wire, or other sharp object) in 1985. Each of these collars contains enough poison to kill 6 adult humans.

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 both of these poisons in their predator control programs, which are subsidized by the taxpayer. States contract with federal predator control programs to keep so-called ‘predator’ populations down to help ranchers protect their livestock.

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.

The use of these poisons has led to the deaths of endangered animals and domesticated dogs, and has injured multiple people in the past.

“These deadly poisons have been proven no more effective than non-lethal methods—the only difference between the two is that the lethal methods supported by the ranching industry are subsidized by American tax dollars,” Rep. DeFazio added. “It’s time to stop subsidizing ranchers’ livestock protection efforts with taxpayer dollars and end the unchecked authority of Wildlife Services once and for all.”