If these cruel traps were judged by the agony they inflict, they would never be justified.
M-44 is legal in Oregon. Compound 1080 is outlawed in Oregon but is widely used in
A branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture called Wildlife Services uses sodium
cyanide (M-44) and Compound 1080 to kill predators, killing an average of 1.6 animals
every hour. But the risks associated with these poisons are great and vastly outweigh
Both chemicals are biological warfare agents. The Nazis commonly used sodium cyanide,
and Compound 1080, a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and water-soluble poison, is
banned in several countries. Lethal doses are very small, and the EPA labels both
toxicants as Category 1, the highest level. For instance, the amount of toxic material
found in one livestock “protection collar” could kill between two and six 150-pound
In January 2007, Sinapu and several conservation and health organizations petitioned
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban M-44 sodium cyanide capsules and
Compound 1080 livestock protection collars under federal law because they threaten
wildlife (including threatened or endangered species), people, and pets, and pose
a bioterrorism hazard.
Sodium Cyanide M-44s:
M-44s are spring-loaded devices topped with bait lures. When an animal tugs on the
bait, a spring sprays sodium cyanide powder into the animal’s mouth. The cyanide
turns into gas once it mixes with moisture from the mouth that is readily absorbed
into the lungs. After less than two minutes, a victim of an M-44 device dies.
* Animals typically killed by M-44s include badgers, bears, birds, bobcats, coyotes,
foxes, dogs, opossums, marmots, raccoons, ravens, ringtails, and skunks.
* According to EPA records, five Wildlife Services employees and at least five
unsuspecting citizens people have been accidentally exposed to sodium cyanide after
triggering devices or coming into contact with pets that had been exposed.
* M-44s have also killed endangered species, such as California condors and wolves.
Compound 1080 Livestock Protection Collars:
Compound 1080, banned in 1972 by President Richard Nixon, was returned to use under
the Reagan Administration for use in livestock protection collars, which are rubber
bladders that are strapped onto the head of sheep or goats:
* Compound 1080 is highly toxic to both birds and mammals. Scavengers that feed
on the head or neck area of dead sheep wearing livestock protection collars are poisoned.
Carcasses contaminated by 1080 must be handled as hazardous waste.
* Death by 1080 is horrific, painful, and lengthy (usually between 3 to 15 hours).
* Livestock protection collars are problem-plagued. They are often lost and they
are easily punctured by trees, cacti, fences, or rocks.
These Poisons May Endanger All of Us:
Several audits by the Office of Inspector General found Wildlife Services maintained
sloppy inventory control of these highly lethal agents and could not properly account
for stockpiles. In November 2007, Wildlife Services itself admitted it had endured
a "wake of accidents" that involved "hazardous chemicals".
These poisons are not needed:
Predators kill a tiny fraction of the nation’s livestock – many more livestock die
unintentionally from weather, birthing complications or rustlers. Mammalian carnivores
killed 0.18% of the total U.S. cattle production in 2005, and 3% of the total sheep
production in 2004. By comparison nearly 4% of cattle and 5% of sheep died from non-predator
causes. Because these figures are so small, Wildlife Services cannot justify the
existence of these two poisons given the risks they pose.
There are a host of non-lethal controls such as fences, pens, sheds, bells, guard
animals, and electronic devices that are far more practical and sustainable over
the long term.
Historic bill would have ended the era of predator poisoning
In December 2007 Representative Peter DeFazio, (D-OR), introduced the Compound 1080
and M-44 Elimination Act (H.R. 4775) before Congress. The bill would have amended
the Toxic Substances Control Act , prohibiting the manufacture of Compound 1080 shutting
down the only known factory producing this poison worldwide; ending the processing,
possession and distribution of Compound 1080; requiring the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
to inventory, collect and destroy all existing stocks of Compound 1080; and prohibiting
the federal government’s use of the M-44 device (containing sodium cyanide). Following
an 18-month grace period, possession of Compound 1080 would have been criminally
Facts to keep in mind about these lethal compounds:
• Compound 1080 and M-44s are extremely dangerous and inhumane.
• Compound 1080 is one of the deadliest poisons on earth and has no antidote.
• Compound 1080 is a potential terrorist threat to water and food supplies.
• These poisons are not selective--they often kill non-target species including endangered
species and pets.
• People have been seriously harmed by M-44s and Compound 1080; at least 16 people
have died from exposure to Compound 1080.
• Rather than killing predators ranchers should make more use of good husbandry practices
such guard animals, electronic sound and light devices, penning animals as night,
lambing in structures, promptly removing any carcasses and fencing appropriately.
To learn more about Compound 1080 and M-44s, read first-hand accounts of dramatic
encounters with M-44s and view photographs, go to: http://www.predatordefense.org