Coexistence, not poisons, on public lands

April 4, 2017

5 Minute Read

Richard Nixon is looking pretty good right now. He created the Environmental Protection Agency. He signed the Endangered Species Act. He also signed an Executive Order banning poisons that kill native carnivores on public lands in 1972. That executive order is, sadly, no longer in effect.

In the past few weeks alone, three tragedies involving use of indiscriminate poisons on our public lands should give pause to every American. A few weeks ago, a young boy was harmed and the family dog killed by a cyanide bomb placed on public land by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal damage control agency. Five days earlier, two families recreating on public lands in Wyoming watched two of their family dogs die after the animals detonated cyanide devices. And two weeks before those incidents, a wolf was killed in Oregon by the same type of device.

These three recent incidents are exactly why extremely dangerous M-44 cyanide bombs, and other indiscriminate tools like traps and poisons that are deployed to kill wildlife, often targeting majestic native carnivores like wolves and coyotes, should not be placed on our public lands.

Cyanide bomb USDA WildEarth Guardians

A cyanide bomb. Photo by USDA.

It would be a mistake to call these tragedies accidents. It’s not an accident if federal employees are knowingly placing deadly devices where children and companion animals play; that’s extreme and inexcusable negligence.

This should be, and I believe is, a bipartisan issue. While liberals and conservatives may disagree about wolves, can’t we all agree on public safety issues that affect our children and family companion animals? Is it going to take the death of a child before the public takes action to prevent the regular and reckless damage caused by these practices? Sadly, this very well could happen.

The essential questions are these: how precise are these “cyanide bombs” and how effective are they at accomplishing their stated goals? Consider this: more than 50,000 non-target animals have been killed in this or similar ways. If the USDA has failed 50,000 times regarding animals, how long before an unsuspecting child is the victim?

But we can make it stop.

WildEarth Guardians is intensifying our End the War on Wildlife campaign to mobilize more popular support to secure local, state, and federal action to end the barbaric, indiscriminate killing. Just last week, Congressman Peter DeFazio introduced a bill in Congress to ban predator poisons on our public lands.

And earlier this week, we filed a lawsuit to force Wildlife Services to stop using cyanide bombs. Last week, we filed a petition with the USDA seeking to prohibit their use in Idaho. I strongly believe that the American people firmly support an end to cruelty against our majestic wildlife, and I am absolutely convinced that every American is opposed to actions that threaten their children.

As an environmentalist, I am concerned with every needless attack on animals, but even if you aren’t an environmentalist, you should be concerned about the terrible possibilities presented by the activities of Wildlife Services (the government agency responsible for these traps).

Their activities are not only a threat to public safety; on the most mundane level, they’re also a massive waste of money. Wildlife Services spends $120 million a year. At a time when there are so many pressing needs facing our country, from infrastructure to healthcare, can’t we find a better use for these funds?

Today, I am asking you to engage. Sign up for more alerts on the campaign at our website. Share this information with others, not just fellow environmentalists and animal welfare advocates, but anyone you know who cares about children, or our companion animals, or sound fiscal policy. I think that should pretty much cover everyone.

Ask them to contact their congressional representatives and senators. Make phone calls, send letters, demand town halls, and show up in force. We need you to be a foot soldier in our campaign to End the War on Wildlife. We want you to engage simply because its wrong, but recent events have reminded us that it’s a war with the potential for collateral damage that is unacceptable to anyone.

About the Author

John Horning | Executive Director, WildEarth Guardians

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