Huffman, Cohen, Merkley Call on Forest Service to Ban Cyanide Bombs on Public Lands

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Steve Cohen (TN-09) along with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) led a letter urging the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ban M-44 cyanide injectors on public lands in its jurisdiction and to remove any that remain.

The members sent a similar letter to the Bureau of Land Management, which led to a groundbreaking decision last December by the agency to ban the use of M-44 devices for predator control on all public lands in BLM’s jurisdiction.

“America’s Forest Service lands should be safe places for people to recreate without worrying about losing their dog, their child, or being poisoned themselves. We urge the USDA to take swift action to ban M-44s on all Forest Service lands and remove any devices currently in use,” the members said in their letter.

M-44s are small traps made up of a stake that is driven into the ground with a spring and a canister loaded with the powdered poison, sodium cyanide. Once they’re set, the traps resemble sprinkler heads, and when triggered, the M-44 ejects a cloud of cyanide meant to kill coyotes, wild dogs, or foxes. Science has shown that lethal predator control is unnecessary and ineffective. Poisoning predators like coyotes with M-44 devices has not been shown to significantly reduce predation pressure on livestock and game species.

Reps. Huffman, Cohen and Sen. Merkley led Canyon’s Law, legislation to ban M-44 ejectors from all public lands. Canyon’s Law is named after Canyon Mansfield, an Idaho boy who took a customary walk with his dog Kasey in 2017 on BLM lands on a hill behind his home. He touched what he thought was a sprinkler head, inadvertently triggering an M-44 device. Canyon watched helplessly as his beloved companion suffered a cruel and painful death. Fortunately for Canyon, the wind pushed much of the cyanide away from him, yet he still suffers health effects years later.

In October 2022, Huffman led a letter to U.S. Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland calling on the Department to take swift action and ban these devices on all its public lands and remove any that remain. This letter led to BLM’s decision to do exactly that. Representative Huffman also oversaw the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife hearing on this topic in the 117th Congress. View his line of questioning with Dr. Mark Mansfield, Canyon’s father.    

The letter was signed by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Jerry Nadler (NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Mark Pocan (WI-02), and Dina Titus (NV-01) and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The letter was endorsed by Predator Defense, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Project Coyote.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.