It's Time to Ban Wildlife Services' Use of Deadly and Indiscriminate Poisons

There's big reason to celebrate with the passage of legislation in Oregon that makes it the third state to ban deadly devices otherwise known as M-44s, or "cyanide bombs," used to poison predators – and even more reason to be optimistic that they will soon be banned nationwide.

Unfortunately, and worryingly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program continues to use M-44s, which are spring-loaded traps designed to blast anything that triggers them with sodium cyanide powder, on both public and private lands. While they're supposed to target predators, like traps, they're indiscriminate killers that put wildlife, pets and us at risk.

Although they've been used for years, public awareness of about them has continued to grow thanks in large part to how ridiculously dangerous they are. In 2017, they gained even more attention after Canyon Mansfield, a teenager in Idaho, almost lost his life and had to watch helplessly as his dog Kasey died in front of him after one of these devices was triggered on land near his home, which was illegally set and unmarked.

While California and Washington both have bans in place, and Idaho placed a moratorium on their use in 2017, they're still used in 13 other states and the death toll is high. According to a coalition of organizations supporting Oregon's ban, Wildlife Services reported 246,985 animals killed by M-44s from 2000 through 2016, including at least 1,182 dogs.

Now, however, there's a chance to see these devices removed from the landscape with the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2019, which has been dubbed Canyon's Law. It was recently reintroduced by Reps. Peter DeFazio and Matt Gaetz and will not only ban M-44s throughout the nation, but it will also ban another deadly poison known as Compound 1080.

Compound 1080 is an odorless, tasteless, colorless and water-soluble poison – and there is no antidote. It causes a slow, excruciating death and is so dangerous the Federal Bureau of Investigation has classified it as a potential weapon of terrorism.

Despite the threat it poses, it's still used in collars placed around the necks of livestock that are intended to poison any animal that punctures them during an attack – and there's typically enough in one collar to kill six adults. More troubling is that these collars can be punctured by anything sharp enough, letting the poison into the environment where it puts non-target animals and pets at risk.

Not only are these poisons incredibly dangerous, there's not really any justification for using them. As lawmakers noted, taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing their use to benefit the livestock industry, especially considering they're no more effective than non-lethal alternatives.

Please sign and share this petition urging Congress to pass this important piece of legislation to protect wildlife, us and our pets from these deadly and indiscriminate poisons.

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