You've probably seen recent headlines about the EPA reversing course on 'cyanide bombs' and thought the Trump administration had miraculously decided to do the right thing and quit using M-44s to kill wildlife. That didn't happen...at least not yet.
While there are reasons to celebrate some serious progress, the headlines are misleading. M-44s have not been banned. As of this moment they are still being used for predator control in 14 states. This remains unacceptable.
Here are some of the headlines that caused confusion:
A careful read of these articles and related EPA documents shows all that happened for sure is the EPA decided: (a) not to renew the registration for the sodium cyanide poison used in M-44 devices, (b) not to tighten the M-44 use restrictions geared toward public safety, and (c) to further discuss the issues. They have not banned M-44s.
On the plus side the EPA appears to be recognizing public outrage over their use of poison land mines in our great outdoors that have killed countless wild animals, dogs and potentially a child. But the EPA's most recent decision not to renew the registration for sodium cyanide pending further discussion and study is deceptive. It simply restores the status quo.
If the EPA had truly been listening, they would finally realize the truth of what we've been saying all along: M-44 'cyanide bombs' can't be used safely. Ever.
But First, We Must Celebrate!
We have many reasons to celebrate! First, we are receiving an unprecedented level of press coverage on the obvious need to ban M-44 "cyanide bombs." The headlines above are the tip of the iceberg.
"I look forward to continuing this dialogue to ensure U.S. livestock remain well protected from dangerous predators while sim
ultaneously minimizing off-target impacts on both humans and nonpredatory animals."
So the EPA is publicly recognizing that M-44s can kill or injure unintentional targets, human and animal. This means they realize deep down that they cannot be used safely, regardless of warning signs and other use restrictions.* But they are ignoring this pesky reality and reaffirming their focus on minimizing the risk to humans and nontarget animals. In other words, they are OK with a certain number of wild animals and dogs (and potentially people) being killed by M-44s. This remains unacceptable.
* Important note re EPA's "red herring" focus on use restrictions: Tightening M-44 use restrictions is pointless, as additional signage and community alerts won't protect wild animals, dogs, or a small child. They will only protect an adult who can read a warning sign. But then, as we know from decades of work with whistle-blowers, agents often don't follow use restrictions, so even adults remain at risk.
It appears EPA is recognizing the public will no longer tolerate the large number of "off target" deaths by M-44s. We insist they need to ELIMINATE these deaths, not just minimize them.
We should also celebrate the growing certainty that the majority of Americans oppose M-44s, that bans are being implemented (e.g., recent statewide ban in Oregon, temporary moratorium in Idaho since 2017, and bans on public lands in Colorado and Wyoming), and that between 2017-2018 there was a 50% reduction in the number of animals killed by M-44s. This is great progress.
Now, more than ever, we need to leverage our momentum. We need to keep the pressure on the EPA and the federal government by calling for a complete ban. They have have the discretionary authority to cancel the sodium cyanide registration now. This is what we're pushing for.
We are also continuing to come at this issue from multiple angles--state and county bans, federal bills in both the House and the Senate, and past and ongoing lawsuits in states like Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado.
And Why We Must Act Now
We need your help to take advantage of the momentum we have built and the inroads we've made in the EPA's thinking. Here's how you can help us get M-44s banned across the country for good:
- Rain fire on the EPA Head Andrew Wheeler and the program-level lead on sodium cyanide, Leigh Rimmer. Tell them whatever you'd like or copy/paste the following: "Please CANCEL the registration on sodium cyanide used in M-44 devices for predator control. Tightening M-44 use restrictions is pointless. Additional signage and community alerts won't protect wild animals, dogs, or a small child. They will only protect an adult who can read a warning sign, and because agents often don't follow use restrictions, even adults remain at risk. The only acceptable action is to ELIMINATE "off target" deaths by M-44s, not minimize them. M-44s can never be used safely. They are a public safety menace and must be banned." Send message to:
Office of Pesticide Programs
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
109 T.W. Alexander Drive
Mail Code: C504-06
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Office of the Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave
Mail Code: 1101A
Washington, DC 20460-0001
We thank you for all you do, and for being with us as we fight for a better world.
For all that is wild and free,
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"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it,
but that it is too low and we reach it."
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