In a surprising reversal, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday it is walking back a recent decision to reauthorize use of M-44s, also known as "cyanide bombs," to kill coyotes, foxes, and other wild animals.
M-44s are spring-loaded traps filled with sodium cyanide, which Wildlife Services officials use when they kill animals for ranchers and farmers. Last year, the federal agency killed more than 1.5 million animals, with about 6,500 dying because of M-44s. These traps have also killed pets and injured people who stumbled upon them.
Last week, the EPA said on an interim basis, Wildlife Services would be able to use the traps again, but after public outcry, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced Thursday the "withdrawal of EPA's interim registration decision on sodium cyanide," adding that the issue "warrants further analysis and additional discussions by EPA with the registrants of this predacide."
The news relieved environmental groups. Predator Defense Executive Director Brooks Fahy said in a statement that it's obvious "somebody at EPA is paying attention to the public's concerns about cyanide bombs. ... Our phone has been ringing off the hook from concerned citizens regarding their greenlight to continue using these horrific devices. We'll have to see how this plays out."