Coyotes are the prime target of M-44s, but numerous other wildlife and pets are also killed by these devices. Photo George Wuerthner

Today, 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.

Coyote. Photo George Wuerthner 

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.

Coyote in trap.

Even with the elimination of M-44s, native predatores 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 who exploit 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.

About The Author

George Wuerthner

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

8 Responses to The Dept of Interior Bans M-44s or Cyanide Bombs On BLM Lands

  1. Pamela Williams says:

    I am relieved to hear this. I want these nasty devices off the landscape everywhere, but this is huge progress! It’s a hard-won battle in the relentless war on wildlife.

  2. Glad to see these horrifical devises eliminated from public lands. Next step is to outlaw them altogether witching the United Sates.

  3. Ida Lupine says:

    Thank goodness, finally!

  4. laurie says:

    I sincerely hope Deb Haaland immediately acts on this in a decisive manner. It’s horrible enough that countless wildlife alone suffer gruesome deaths from these monstrous devices.

  5. Ralph Maughan says:

    After all these years there is much more to do,but this is terrific because the BLM is the worst deployment area.

  6. Ida Lupine says:

    Oh yes we appreciate greatly the work of Congressman Peter DeFazio on this and for wildlife, and I was sorry to hear about his retirement. An environmental advocate like him is rare, IMO, and it concerns me who will replace him.

  7. Louise Kane says:

    This is great news and the result of effort by many people but Brooks Fahy should be commended. All over the world, snaring, trapping and poisoning harm wild predators and other wildlife deemed to be disposable, a sickening reality. Scottish scientists are speaking out against these practices in Scotland. https://committeetoabolishsporthunting.wordpress.com/2023/12/04/predator-control-on-scottish-moors-causes-tremendous-unjustifiable-suffering-to-animals-say-academics/

  8. Ida Lupine says:

    Yes, I know that Brooks Fahy has worked very hard on these issues for quite some time. I know I thank everyone involved.

    And speaking of killings in the thousands to ultimately put human activities first, which is what has endangered the spotted owl in the first place:

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/feds-propose-shooting-one-owl-to-save-another-in-pacific-northwest/

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‎"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