Coyotes are the main target of M-44 devices. Photo George Wuerthner 

For years  Predator Defense, a national organization, has been seeking to enact a ban on cyanide M-44 bombs used to kill predators like coyotes. They may be on the verge of success. Two bills to ban M-44s on all public lands were introduced into Congress. H.R. 4951 by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D) and S, 4584 by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D), both from Oregon.

Cyanide M-44 bombs contain a powered capsule of cyanide that is in a spring-loaded device that typically has some kind of bait smeared on it. When a coyote, dog, or other animal tugs on the attractant, the cyanide is injected into the animal’s mouth, releasing hydrogen cyanide gas.

Despite a complete ban on M-44s in Oregon the domestic sheep industry still survives. Photo George Wuerthner 

Oregon ban M-44 across the state and the livestock industry is surviving.

As of July 2022 M-44 “cyanide bombs” are still being used by the government for predator control in 13 states. In Colorado and Wyoming they are only allowed on private land. They are allowed statewide in Nevada, Utah, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, and West Virginia.

One of the motivating factors was the near death of Canyon Mansfield from Pocatello, Idaho in 2017 whose dog was killed by an M-44 devise and who had to be hospitalized due to exposure to the cyanide. As a result of his experience, the legislation is known as “Canyon’s Law.”

Of course the real question is why any native wildlife are killed on public lands merely to subsidize the profits of a private industry.

Testimony from Predator Defense. Press releases from both Defazio and Merkley. You can help push the ban through Congress by writing your representatives and asking them to support Canyon’s Law banning M-44s on public lands and of course make a donation to Predator Defense.

About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

3 Responses to M-44 Ban On Public Lands Near Enactment

  1. MK Ray says:

    Roxy’s law passed in New Mexico not only bans traps on NM public land but also poisons. Federal law would trump state law, but Wildlife Services in other states abides by state law usually.

  2. Maggie Frazier says:

    There are so many issues that need correcting or changed – I hope that this one actually happens. Yeah, I will contact my “representatives” on these horrible dangerous traps.
    Something else that truly needs doing is preventing good old boys – Wildlife Services – from running rampant over our public lands & forests. This agency needs to be better regulated at the least!

  3. Ida Lupine says:

    I hope they finally get this done (for good), there’s no need for this war poison in our environment.


August 2022


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey