The Trump administration has reauthorized the use of controversial traps dubbed “cyanide bombs” to kill coyotes, foxes and other animals across the US.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it would allow, on an interim basis, the use of M-44 devices, which trap wildlife with bait before spraying sodium cyanide into their mouths, according to CBS News.
The spring-loaded devices, which have killed more than wild animals since they were first introduced in the 1960s, have been blasted as inhumane.
“Cyanide traps can’t be used safely by anyone, anywhere,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“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,” she said.
The EPA has updated its rules to include some restrictions on the use of the devices, including banning their placement within 100 feet of a public road or pathway, increased from 50 feet. Warning signs also must be placed within 15 feet of each device, decreased from 25 feet.
A final decision on the use of the M-44s is expected to come down after 2021.
In 2017, a child was temporarily blinded and three pet dogs killed in two incidents involving the use of M-44s in Idaho and Wyoming, the BBC reported.
Canyon Mansfield’s family successfully sued the US government for $150,000 last year. One of the devices had been placed near their property in Pocatello, Idaho, and his dog triggered the device, The Guardian reported.
The EPA allows use of the devices by Wildlife Services, the animal-killing program of the US Department of Agriculture — and also authorizes their use by state agencies in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Texas.
Last year, Wildlife Services got rid of over 1.5 million native animals — from beavers to black bears, wolves, ducks and owls, primarily for the benefit of private farmers and ranchers, according to The Guardian. About 6,500 of them were killed by M-44s.
At the end of last year, the EPA proposed the renewed use of sodium cyanide, allowing time for public comment until March, CBS News reported.
More than 99.9 percent of the comments urged the agency to ban M-44s, according to the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Environmental Law Center.
“The overwhelming majority of comments from the general public, including the more than 20,000 letters from the write-in campaign, did not support the continued registration of sodium cyanide predacide uses (M-44 devices),” the EPA wrote in its proposal.