New Bill Would Stop Accidental Poisoning of Wildlife, Pets and People
After a day rafting along the White River in Utah, Brooke and Cliff Everest were alarmed when, back at camp, their spaniel, Bea, started acting strangely.
Earlier that day, Bea had found and, like any dog would, curiously inspected a sheep carcass that was laced with sodium fluoroacetate, also known as Compound 1080 — an odorless, colorless, tasteless and water-soluble poison with no antidote. Because of her fateful run-in with Compound 1080, widely used by Wildlife Services to kill livestock predators, Bea died that day.
Stop the painful poisoning deaths of wildlife, pets and people from Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide.
Compound 1080 and another deadly poison used regularly by Wildlife Services, sodium cyanide, are ranked Level 1 by the EPA for their “high degree of acute toxicity.” They’re meant to protect livestock from native predators. But other animals, including endangered species and pets like Bea, as well as people, often become accidental victims. A new bill, H.R.5643 would ban the use of these two indiscriminate killers.
Kept in rubber bladders and tied around the necks of sheep, goats, and cattle, Compound 1080 is meant to poison a livestock animal’s attacker when they rip open the bladder trying to take down the animal. But the pouch is also easily punctured by thorns, barbed wire, and other sharp objects — and this silent killer leaks into the environment for other unsuspecting animals to ingest.
Death from Compound 1080 — just one teaspoon of which is strong enough to kill 100 human adults — is especially agonizing. Animals who’ve ingested the poison have been found with vomited lungs, distended veins, and evacuated bowels and bladders. They’ve even been seen trying to rip open their own stomachs to get at the painful poison.
Likewise, sodium cyanide is an indiscriminate killer often mistakenly ingested by ill-fated animals and people. M-44s are spring-activated ejectors that are set off when a predator (or other animal, or child, or hiker…) pulls at the top, which is a discreet knob buried in the ground. The M-44 is meant to eject the poison into a predators mouth and face, and can spray the toxic granules up to five feet. Victims can die within minutes or suffer for hours.
It’s estimated that 12,000-15,000 animals die per year from M-44s ejecting sodium cyanide. This number doesn’t even include the number of pet victims. Past Wildlife Service employees have said that agents will remove collars of dogs and discard the bodies, for fear of jeopardizing its predator control program.
These extremely lethal poisons are under-controlled and, as a result, countless unintended species die. In 2007, Wildlife Services even admitted they were having internal issues with safely handling hazardous chemicals. And after two failed audits, the Office of the Inspector General reported “an alarming lack of inventory control and unrestricted access to poisons by unauthorized people.”
It’s outrageous that an agency named “Wildlife Service” would expose wildlife and other species to such an indiscriminately harmful toxicant. You can sign the petition to support H.R.5643 and stop the accidental deaths of wildlife, pets, and people from Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide.
photo credit: istock