AWI and a number of conservation and wildlife organizations formally petitioned the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services program and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture in June for an immediate ban on the use of M-44 cyanide devices in Wyoming. The petition was prompted by recent deadly incidents involving M-44s, including the death of two dogs in the state. One of the dogs had triggered an M-44 while the two were out walking with their respective families. (See AWI Quarterly, summer 2017.)
When triggered, M-44s spew sodium cyanide, which reacts with moisture in the mouth to produce highly toxic hydrogen cyanide gas. The devices lead to the agonizing death of thousands of animals every year, many of them nontarget animals.
Federal law requires Wildlife Services to respond to the petition. A similar petition was filed in Idaho in March, after a 14-year-old boy in that state accidentally triggered a device set near his own house. The boy was hospitalized and his dog was killed. Following this earlier petition, Wildlife Services agreed—for the time being—to remove M-44s from all lands in Idaho.