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Will It Take a Child's Death to Ban M-44s?

We asked Congress in person, joining Idaho family who lost dog (and almost a child) to M-44 "cyanide bomb"; legislation introduced

Photo by Jenifer Morris Photography

Photo credit: Jenifer Morris Photography

Photo of 14-year-old Canyon and dog Kasey, who was killed by M-44 in this spot

14-year-old Canyon from Idaho with
his best friend Kasey in one of their
favorite spots--behind Canyon's
back yard, where he accidentally
triggered an M-44 on March 16, 2017.
It killed his dog in front of him.
Read Canyon's first-hand account

Photo of 8-year old girl who lost her dog Abby to M-44

Roxy Marie, an 8-year old Wyoming
girl, holds photo of her dearly loved
dog Abby, killed with another dog
on March 11, 2017 by an M-44 while
family was walking on the prairie.
Read family's harrowing account

June 20, 2017 update - In March three dogs were killed by M-44 "cyanide bombs" in Wyoming and Idaho. In both cases children were present and put at grave risk of poisoning. This is beyond unacceptable. We've been working since 1990 to end atrocities like these.

Wyoming victims | Idaho victims

M-44s are indiscriminate sodium cyanide ejectors set by USDA Wildlife Services agents and local wildlife agencies for "predator control." We believe there is no justifiable excuse for the use of M-44s. It is insane to set poison traps in the great outdoors.

About M-44s | Fact sheet | Diagram

In our work we've pressured for a nationwide ban on M-44s collaborating with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oreg.). We're pleased to announce that DeFazio introduced the newest legislation we've been working on in Congress on Mar. 30, 2017. The bill is called H.R. 1817, "The Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017. It would ban both lethal M-44 sodium cyanide devices and Compound 1080, which are used unnecessarily by government wildlife agents for predator control.

In June we traveled to Washington, D.C., with the Mansfield family from Pocatello, ID, who lost their dog and almost their child to an M-44 (pictured above left).

What we need now is your help to get this legislation passed into law. This is a nonpartisan, public safety issue, and there honestly are no valid arguments against banning wildlife poisons.

Oregon Wolf Killed by M-44, a Poison-Filled Device that Also Endangers People, Pets

March 2017 - Just how many animals need to die a horrible death before people realize it is insane to set poison traps in the great outdoors?

A wolf died a cruel death in Oregon on Feb. 26, 2017 because of a device set on private land by federal agents from the egregiously misnamed program within the USDA called "Wildlife Services."

We've been working with U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oreg.) for decades to ban wildlife poisons like the M-44 sodium cyanide ejector. These indiscriminate devices also endanger pets and people.

M-44s are an outrage, and taxpayers fund their use. This travesty must be put to an end. And it will be if enough of us speak out and demand it. We are currently working on new legislation to ban M-44s and will keep you posted. Learn how you can help

Media Coverage

How You Can Help

Learn More

Profanity Peak Pack Slaughter Shows Washington Values Cows over Wolves

SPECIAL UPDATE - Between August-October 2016 seven members of Washington’s Profanity Peak wolf pack in pristine Colville National Forest were killed by state agents to protect cattle grazing in the wolves' known territory. The killings are an outrage for a myriad of reasons and public outcry was intense.

Washington has long been thought of as a progressive state when it comes to wolf management. Not any more. These wolves were brutally blasted by shotgun from a helicopter or trapped, simply for being themselves. They were also sold out by several large environmental groups on Washington's Wolf Advisory Group.

The hunt for the remaining adult female and three pups continued until it was finally called off on Oct. 21, due to the rancher’s cattle being removed from their seasonal grazing allotment, as planned. To most people, the hunt being called off sounded like great news, but it only means the remaining four wolves should be spared death over the next few months. Once the cattle are returned to graze next year, all bets are off. The wolves will then be killed if they attack any cows. This is NOT OK.

The Underlying Travesty Has Not Been Addressed: It’s a Set Up

The killings are an outrage for a myriad of reasons. Wolves are being continually set up to be slaughtered by the combination of Washington State's wolf policy and federal public land grazing allotments. Ranchers bring their cows to graze on pristine public land, which displaces the wolves' natural prey, deer and elk. So the wolves get hungry and turn to cattle as prey. And after a certain number of cows are attacked or killed, the state gets the go-ahead to kill the wolves. The cost to taxpayers so far is well over $100,000.

It is our firm belief that vital apex predators like wolves should not be killed in their natural homes, all to help ranchers continue to externalize their business costs on the taxpayers' dime. Read more in our featured Seattle Times' op-ed:"More wolves killed because of the sacred cow at the public trough."

We immersed ourselves in protesting this appalling slaughter and it's underpinnings. We blasted Facebook and Twitter, rallied in Olympia, met with the governor's policy staff, submitted official comments at the WAG/WDFW public meeting, and continued to work behind the scenes.

We also co-authored a letter to Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Amazingly, HSUS was part of the Wolf Advisory Group that "authorized removal" of the wolves. We urged HSUS to take a public position opposing it now. HSUS responded on Sept. 10. We still weren't satisfied, so our conversation continues. Details

How You Can Help

  • Send Governor Inslee an e-message or call him at 360-902-4111 and ask him to use his influence to stop all killing of wolves on public lands. Let him know the majority are against the killing, as well as public lands “welfare ranching,” and that Washington’s policies need to change accordingly. Telling him in your own words what you think makes a bigger impact.
  • Spread the word to everyone you know who cares about wolves, wildlife and public lands.
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share our posts.
  • Learn more about America's war on wolves.
  • Support our work for wolves with a donation today.
  • Help fund our films. We are currently producing a short film memorializing the Profanity Peak wolf pack, as well as a reform documentary, "The Killing Agencies."  

Media Coverage

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Idaho Wolf Slaughter

June 1, 2016 - Today we filed suit with five other groups to stop the federal government's illegal and scientifically egregious slaughter of wolves in Idaho.

Our suit seeks to halt all federal wolf control and killing activities being performed in Idaho until the agency doing the killing—USDA Wildlife Services— completes an updated, valid Environmental Impact Statement. The suit declares that Wildlife Services has not only completely ignored the best available science, but also failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

Read press release | Legal complaint

In the last five years since wolves lost federal protection, Idaho has become the national poster child for wolf-killing. Before delisting in 2011, Idaho had the largest wolf population in the Rockies, at approximately 1,000. Idaho is now the biggest wolf-killing state in the Lower 48. Hunters and trappers have killed over 1,500, and hundreds more have been killed by government and private sources. Idaho's Governor wants to bring the total wolf population down to 150, a scientifically egregious and socially heinous goal.

At present, wolves in Idaho are not able to perform their essential ecosystem services as apex predators. They are under such tremendous pressure from federal agents gunning them down from helicopters—let alone hunters and trappers—that they are performing almost no ecosystem services at all. They are living in social chaos and running for their lives. This must stop. And this case marks an important first step—going after the federal government's ecological misbehavior.

Attorneys from Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project are representing us and the other co-plaintiffs, who include WildEarth Guardians, Friends of the Clearwater, and Center for Biological Diversity. We're also pleased to report that this case is in good company: It joins the 2015 Washington lawsuit, which we won, and the current Oregon lawsuit, filed in February 2016.

Celebrating 25 Years by Expanding Scope

2016 - In these harrowing 21st century times we need the wild, the solace of nature, more than ever before. And it has never been harder to find, or under broader attack.

Our nation’s maligned predator species—wolves, cougars, coyotes and more—play a vital role in our vanishing wild lands and in the health of our planet. They also have so much to teach us. For example, they do not reproduce more than the environment can support. Imagine if humans could follow suit!

Our mission has always been to protect native predators and to help people learn to coexist with them. But predators continue to be slaughtered at record levels in most states, all under the guise that we need to control their populations. Meanwhile, the best available science says the OPPOSITE is true!

There are places where wildlife is treated admirably. Over 80 countries and eight U.S. states have banned or severely restricted trapping. Costa Rica has banned hunting completely. California has not allowed cougar hunting for nearly 40 years. So there is reason for hope, particularly if enough of us demand our leaders start making bolder and wiser decisions. But they will only do that if they know enough of us insist on change.

In America's current wildlife management system, agency funding and commission appointments are primarily "sourced" from hunting and ranching interests, who are ignoring science and the public will. This means the killing of wildlife remains big business, plain and simple. And we have recently been alarmed to see relatively progressive states like Oregon taking giant steps backward.

So, in addition to our ongoing focus on reforming the federal Wildlife Services program, we need to demand reform of the outdated state wildlife management agencies. In 2016 we will kick these efforts into high gear. Stay tuned...

Americans "EXPOSED" to War on Wildlife

Photo - film EXPOSED wins best activism award


Dec. 2015 - Our primary focus for 2015 was getting as many people as possible to watch and share our whistle-blowing documentary, "EXPOSED: USDA's Secret War on Wildlife." This award-winning short film features three former federal agents and a Congressman blowing the whistle on Wildlife Services--a barbaric, wasteful and misnamed agency within the USDA--and expose the governmentís secret war on wildlife on the taxpayer's dime.

We worked hard to spread the word around the country. On June 15 we took "EXPOSED" to Washington, D.C., and held a Congressional screening and panel discussion for an unprecedented standing-room-only crowd from both sides of the aisle. We also screened it in Oregon, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New York. And we screened it a total of six times in Idaho, the Ground Zero of wildlife killing in America.

"EXPOSED" received a rave review from none other than Jane Goodall. It also won Best Short at the 2015 Animal Film Festival, and Best Wildlife Activism at the 2014 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, the premier wildlife film festival in North America.

Help Us Stop America's Wolf Slaughter

Between April 2011, when wolves lost federal endangered species protection, and April 2016, over 4,200 wolves were slaughtered in just five states. This is truly tragic, and we have been taking the government to task for their flawed and biased plan to further remove protections for the gray wolf across the nation.

We are not alone in our thinking. In 2014 an independent peer review panel rejected the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's delisting proposal, saying it is not supported by the best available science and would be premature.

Leaked documents reveal cover-up of animal abuse investigation in USDA's Wildlife Services agency

Case reveals Wildlife Services
employee set his dogs loose on live
coyotes caught in leg traps.

"Final" report withheld from both the public and Congress

In June 2013 we learned that—despite a specific request last November by Congressmen Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and John Campbell (R-CA) for the results of the investigation into allegations of animal cruelty by a federal trapper—officials at Wildlife Services withheld their "final" report from the public and Congress.

In fact, they told the Congressmen that the report did not exist. See Tweet from Congressman Campbell

In addition, the leaked documents show that after Wildlife Services exonerated the trapper from any wrongdoing, they started asking questions internally about specific violations he had actually committed.

For several years we've been the driving force behind a nationwide push for a Congressional oversight hearings on Wildlife Services and reform of the agency. We've also been working with Tom Knudson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from the Sacramento Bee, on an in-depth exposé of their out-of-control "predator control" program.

Bobcat Rescued from Illegal Snare

Meet the bobcat we named Freedom and the
man who released him from the strangling
snare, Brooks Fahy, our executive director.

In the course of our work we often receive calls about animals caught in traps. In 2012 we received a call about a bobcat caught in an illegally set strangling snare on private property. We immediately rushed to the location and found an adult male bobcat caught around the torso. He had been trapped for about 12 hours.

Fortunately we got there in time to save his life by restraining him and cutting him free. We were rewarded by his immediate race for freedom, and—amazingly—we caught all this on video. Our footage will be an important tool in bringing about essential trapping reform and we will be sharing it broadly.

Maggie's Death: A Crime

Border collie Maggie pictured on her last Christmas

Read Maggie's story and watch our
video interview
with Maggie's family,
the McCurtains. You'll see the lovely
suburban neighborhood where this
deadly trap was illegally placed by
Wildlife Services. If this could happen
here, it could happen anywhere.

Family's border collie strangled to death in trap near yard

In a pristine suburb of Portland, OR, a family's border collie named Maggie was killed by a deadly trap set in a community common area just 45 feet from their back yard. This is an area where kids play. This trap could have easily injured or killed a child.

No compliant warning signs were posted, nor were instructions for removing the trap or whom to call for help. The trap's placement violated both Oregon state law and the internal directives of Wildlife Services, the government agency responsible. This crime was committed with the help of your tax dollars.

Read Maggie's story and learn how you can help the family honor Maggie and protect others from similar tragedy.

Photo of cougar heads piled up by a tree

The USDA's War on Wildlife

Your Tax Dollars at Work

The USDA Wildlife Services predator control program is the only federal program that kills native predators at the request of ranchers and state wildlife management agencies. They use indiscriminate methods that also endanger humans and pets. This program is a primary focus of our legislative work. About USDA Wildlife Services

Wildlife Patient Stories

Photo of deadly M-44 cyanide device by Brooks Fahy

From 1990-1995, Predator Defense operated a wildlife hospital and care center for injured and orphaned predator mammals.

Many native predators, like the baby bobcat orphan at left, were successfully released back into the wild.

Meet some of our patients