WASHINGTON (AP) – Advocacy groups are asking the government to ban two poisons widely used for killing wildlife.
The poisons are primarily used to kill coyotes that threaten livestock and game. Sodium cyanide capsules are placed in baited ejectors, and sodium fluoroacetate, or Compound 1080, is used in sheep and goat collars.
The Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services program distributes the poisons.
In a petition filed Wednesday with the Environmental Protection Agency, the groups cited problems with the poisons:
-Internal audits revealing poor inventory control that could lead to theft of the poisons.
-Deaths of California condors and other animals that feed on poisoned carcasses.
-Availability of non-lethal alternatives to control coyotes and other predators.
“While death by sodium cyanide is quick but traumatic, Compound 1080 can take several excruciating hours to kill a person or an animal exposed to it,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu, a Colorado-based advocacy group for wolves and other predators.
“Because of the tremendous consequential damages these poisons can cause to people, pets and wildlife, they should be banned,” she said.
The Agriculture Department chooses the most effective and humane poisons for a given situation, spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said.
“It might be possible to do the work without them, but not necessarily as effectively,” Bannerman said.
“With a livestock protection collar, which uses Compound 1080, the only animal that would receive this toxin is an animal that is, in fact, trying to eat a sheep or a goat,” she said.
Scavengers don’t eat the wool and hair where the collars are and likely wouldn’t be exposed, Bannerman said.
EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said the agency takes its responsibilities to safeguard people, wildlife and the environment seriously and will review the petition.
The Agriculture Department killed more than 2.7 million nuisance animals in 2004, the most recent year for which data was available. The majority of animals killed were starlings, birds that destroy crops and contaminate livestock feed.
By Libby Quiad, The Associated Press
The Guardian, United Kingdom