September 15, 2010
Help Outlaw the Poisoning of Wildlife
The HSUS is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Wildlife Services program to end the use of two notorious predator poisons—Compound 1080 and the cyanide-loaded M-44.
At the behest of ranchers who worry that carnivores such as coyotes, mountain lions, and foxes will kill their livestock, Wildlife Services uses these poisons to kill predators.
But the poisons kill any animal unlucky enough to come across them: People, pets, endangered species—including bald eagles and California condors—and other non-targeted wild animals have all fallen victim. Over the past few years, they've killed at least half a dozen federally protected wolves.
Wildlife Services employees load Compound 1080 pouches into collars worn by sheep. When a predator (coyotes are the primary targets) attacks a sheep—usually around the neck—its teeth may puncture the pouch, shooting the poison into the coyote’s mouth.
Death is inevitable, but it is a long time coming. The coyote suffers convulsions and muscle spasms for hours before dying. This suffering is so unacceptably intense that Compound 1080 should be prohibited.
In addition, although Compound 1080 is only supposed to kill the attacking coyote, the poison leaking from the collar onto the dead sheep renders the carcass poisonous to scavengers, extending the chain of suffering and death.
An M-44 is a spring-loaded bait tamped into the ground that, when triggered by an animal investigating the bait, releases a lethal dose of cyanide into the animal’s mouth.
Wildlife Services staff have placed thousands of M-44s on public and private lands throughout the country. The bait attracts a wide range of animals, claiming victims that include the highly endangered California condor, federally protected gray wolves and even pet dogs.
The increasing availability of proven, effective, and long-term non-lethal techniques for protecting livestock from predators renders the use of these archaic, indiscriminate, and cruel poisons completely indefensible.
What you can do
Please contact Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and tell him that the USDA and Wildlife Services must stop killing wildlife with poisons. Call on him to immediately prohibit the use of Compound 1080 and M-44s. There are more effective and less expensive nonlethal methods of resolving conflicts between wildlife and ranchers.