The Environmental Protection Agency is reauthorizing the use of cyanide traps to kill wild animals to protect ranchers’ livestock.
EPA officials made is re-authorizing the use of M-44 chemical trap devices through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services department as well as in agencies across the west. Wildlife Services kills wild animals every year to protect livestock including cattle, sheep and goats.
Activists are crying foul.
“Cyanide traps can’t be used safely by anyone, anywhere,” Collette Adkins, the director of carnivore conservation at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement Wednesday.
She added: “While the EPA added some restrictions, these deadly devices have caused too much harm to remain in use. We need a permanent nationwide ban to protect people, pets and imperiled wildlife from this poison.” The agency conceded in its review that the bulk of the comments on the decision opposed reauthorization.
The EPA claimed in the review that it only uses the M-44 devices “on or within 7 miles of a ranch unit or allotment where losses due to predation by wild canids are occurring.” The devices must be removed if there is no evidence they work.
The traps — or “cyanide bombs” — reportedly temporarily blinded a child in 2017 and killed three dogs in Idaho and Wyoming, as well as killed a wolf in Oregon. The agency noted that a several ranching groups and farmers’ associations championed the move. They emphasized the economic losses associated with predators killing livestock.
EPA’s decision comes after the Department of Interior proposed in 2018 rolling back federal protections on gray wolf populations.
The agency has attempted to delist the gray wolf since 2003 after the animal’s recovery passed the threshold to be considered endangered. Environmental and conservation groups have torpedoed motions to delist the wolf with lawsuits that courts use to block proposed rules.
Farmers have complained about the spread of wolves for years, saying the predators are responsible for killing livestock and threatening people. The federal government spends millions to enforce gray wolf protections and fund conservation programs. In 2007, gray wolf conservation cost taxpayers $4.3 million, Scientific American reported.
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