The Feds Finally Banned the Use of Cyanide Bombs on BLM Lands

Coyote. Photo George Wuerthner. 

The Biden Administration’s Department of Interior has formally banned M-44 or what are known as cyanide bombs, from 245 million acres of Bureau of Land Management federal lands.

Predator Defense - Help Us Ban Deadly M-44 Cyanide Devices

M-44 are spring-loaded ejectors that contain cyanide poison that has been used for decades to kill predators. The M-44 is indiscriminate killing or poisoning any animals or, in a few cases, humans that pull the triggers.

Animals that are poisoned suffer a horrific death. Many pets, and non-target wildlife, not to mention native predators, which have as much right to be on federal lands as any private livestock have suffered from these deadly devices.

According to the federal agency Wildlife Services’ data, in 2022, the program poisoned approximately 6,000 animals with M-44s in 10 states: Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. State agencies in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Texas are also authorized to use M-44s.

M-44s are banned on other Dept of Interior lands, such as the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation. However, even with this ban of M-44s on Bureau of Land Management lands, they are still used on the 193,000,000-acre National Forest lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

Pressure to ban M-44s has been applied by conservation organizations, e.g., the 2023 APA petition jointly filed by Predator Defense and the Center for Biodiversity and signed by over 70 conservation groups.

Congress has responded to public pressure. Legislation introduced into Congress, known as Canyon’s Law, would ban M-44s on all public lands The legislation was introduced into the House by Rep. Jared Hoffmann (CA) and Steve Cohen (TN). Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley introduced a companion bill into the Senate.

It is worth noting that for years, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio was a staunch advocate for predators and led the charge to have M-44s banned. DeFazio recently retired, but in October of 2022, he, along with Rep. Jared Hoffmann sent this letter to Sec of Interior, Deb Haaland apparently paving the way for today’s ban. Here’s a press release from Rep. Hoffmann.

Even with the elimination of M-44s, native predators like coyotes, wolves, bears, mountain lions, and other wildlife will continue to be killed by Wildlife Services to benefit the livestock industry.

The question one must always ask in these situations is why public lands are degraded and ecologically compromised to support the livestock industry which exploits public lands for private profit.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this announcement has special significance to Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense, who has pursued an M-44 ban for decades.

George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy