Environmental Groups Sue Feds Over Use Of Predator-Killing Poisons

Apr 4, 2017

Environmental and animal welfare groups are suing the federal government over its use of two widely used predator-killing poisons. Compound 1080 and M-44s, are effective tools to kill coyotes and other native carnivores.

Bethany Cotton says that’s part of the problem; they’re too effective:

"They’re extremely indiscriminate in their effectiveness. They’re certainly good at killing. The problem is that it can’t tell what it’s killing."

Cotton is with WildEarth Guardians, one of four groups that sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Tuesday, claiming its use of the traps violates the Endangered Species Act.

Cotton says in 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency requested Fish and Wildlife help them analyze how the poisons could affect non-target threatened and endangered species.

When the M44 trap is set, only the capsule holder and capsule protrude above ground level.
Credit Guy Connely - U.S. Department of Agriculture

Bethany Cotton says that study was never finished:

"We’re asking them to finish that process and look at whether the risks associated with the use of these toxins – especially on public lands – really justify the idea they’re allowed to be used."

The lawsuit, filed in Missoula District Court says the poisons could harm federally protected species including Grizzly Bears, Canada Lynx and wolves.

Compound 1080 is a poison placed in livestock collars. When predators attack, the collars are punctured and the predators ingest the poison.

M-44s look like sprinklers. When triggered they propel one gram of sodium cyanide into an animal’s mouth.

One of these devices injured an Idaho teenager last month and killed his family dog.

Another coalition is petitioning the Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services arm to immediately ban the use of M-44s in Idaho.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could not immediately be reached for comment.