The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reauthorized the use of “cyanide bombs” to kill wild animals such as coyotes, foxes and wild dogs in an effort to protect livestock.
EPA officials made the shift as an interim decision, authorizing the use of M-44 chemical trap devices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services department as well as state agencies in Texas, New Mexico, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
Wildlife Services chooses to kill wild animals every year in an effort to protect farmers and livestock including cattle, sheep and goats.
Environmentalists and critics, however, argue the method is inhumane and has led to people being injured in the past.
“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 on Wednesday. “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 group also noted from a previous study that more than 99 percent of comments made during the public comment period on the EPA’s decision whether or not to reauthorize the use of the so-called “cyanide bombs” opposed the move.
In 2017 the traps reportedly temporarily blinded a child and killed three family dogs as well as a wolf in Oregon. Oregon has since banned the use of M-44 devices in the state.
But there have been new restrictions added by the EPA has since then.
As a matter of safety, the EPA says 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 are required to be removed if there is no evidence they are working in the area.
Their use is also not allowed in national forests or protected areas except in cases where they are used to protect endangered species, according to the EPA’s decision.