Help Us Ban M-44 Cyanide Devices

Photo of deadly M-44 cyanide device by Brooks Fahy

Deadly M-44 cyanide device

We have initiated and led national efforts to ban M-44s, lethal sodium cyanide devices used to kill livestock predators. Not only do these indiscriminate devices eject their poison on other unsuspecting animals and humans, but far more scientifically sound methods of predator control are available. While legislation has not yet passed, we are not giving up.

Victim Stories

The letters below were written to Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), requesting a complete ban on the deadly M-44. The cases are strikingly different, but each had tragic results.

The articles below relate even more families' tragic losses. Their dogs died from M-44 poisoning from traps set by Wildlife Services on their own private land.

Progress to Date

March 2012 - Our legislation to eliminate M-44s for good was re-introduced in Congress. Details

June 2010 - Our legislation was introduced in Congress with bipartisan support. It stalled.

May 2010 - Published essay, Two Killers that Need to Go, describing our efforts to date in our ongoing quest to ban M-44 devices, as well as the deadly poison, Compound 1080.

May 2008 - Our first bill to ban M-44s was introduced in Congress.

January 2008 - Asserting a cover-up, Predator Defense compelled the EPA to launch a formal investigation into human poisoning by an M-44, a device the USDA's Wildlife Services uses across the country:

September 2007 - Predator Defense suspected USDA Wildlife Services cover-up of human poisoning, demanded the EPA investigate, and called for an immediate moratorium on M-44s:

What Are M-44s?

Diagram of M-44 cyanide device

Diagram of M-44 cyanide device

M-44 devices are spring-activated sodium cyanide ejectors that deliver a deadly dose of this poison when an animal pulls up on it. The animal can die within minutes or linger over a long period of time.

To set up an M-44 device, a small pipe is driven into the ground and then loaded with the ejector and a sodium cyanide capsule. The top of the ejector is wrapped with an absorbent material that has been coated with a substance that attracts canines.

When an animal pulls on this material, a spring ejects the sodium cyanide into the animal’s mouth and face. The force of the ejector can spray the cyanide granules up to five feet.

Predator Defense has been pressing for a national ban on the lethal M-44 sodium cyanide ejector (also known as “coyote getters”) since 1994 when Amanda Wood-Kingsley contacted Predator Defense for help after she and her dog Ruby were poisoned by an M-44.

Predator Defense is working with Congressman Peter DeFazio’s staff to develop a bill to completely ban M-44’s. Congressman DeFazio is acutely aware of the threat that M-44’s pose to pets, people, and wildlife. We consistently relay personal accounts to him of poisonings that occur across the country.

Victims of M-44s support Predator Defense’s efforts to ban these devices nationwide. The following letters and a report on a Predator Defense field investigation of another dog poisoning provide dramatic testimony of the horrific consequences of M-44 use.

Federal Statistics

Wildlife Services Warning Signs & Directives

Predator Defense investigations have repeatedly found a lack of warning signs on M-44s, despite the following federal directive on M-44 Device Use and Signage:

23. Bilingual warning signs in English and Spanish shall be used in all areas containing M-44 devices. All such signs shall be removed when M-44 devices are removed.

a. Main entrances or commonly used access points to areas in which M-44 devices are set shall be posted with warning signs to alert the public to the toxic nature of the cyanide and to the danger to pets. Signs shall be inspected weekly to ensure their continued presence and to ensure that they are conspicuous and legible. An elevated sign shall be placed within 25 feet of each individual M-44 device warning persons not to handle the device.

Excerpted from USDA APHIS ADC (Wildlife Services) Directive, M-44 Cyanide Capsules, M-44 Use Restrictions, EPA Registration No. 56228-15

EPA's Use Restrictions for M-44s

USDA Precautionary Statements for People Handling M-44s