Livestock Lobby Pressures to Retain Wildlife Poisons

Two Front Battle to Block Legislative Ban and EPA Registration Revocation

Washington, DC — As a public comment deadline looms, the livestock industry is ramping up to fight growing calls to ban two of the most deadly poisons used to kill wild mammals, according to documents released today by Sinapu and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This battle takes place against a backdrop of rising concern about a massive federal program to kill predators and other wildlife deemed a problem by ranchers, primarily in the West.

The two poisons are sodium cyanide (used in M-44 ejectors) and sodium fluoroacetate, commonly called Compound 1080, used in “livestock protection collars” strapped onto the heads of sheep and goats. The poisons are distributed by Wildlife Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture which used these two agents during 2006 to “dispatch” an average of 1.6 animals every hour. The poisons are part of a $100 million Wildlife Services’ program which killed more than 1.6 million animals during 2006.

The public comment for a proposal before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the two poisons ends this January 15th. Last week, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) also introduced legislation outlawing production and use of the two agents, which EPA classifies as having the highest degree of “acute toxicity.” The basis for the proposed bans is growing reports of accidental poisonings of pets and “non-target” wildlife, including endangered species, and environmental damage.

Compound 1080 is registered for use in only 11 states and are outlawed in several countries, as well as California and Oregon. Because it is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and water soluble, Compound 1080 is poses a significant bio-chemical threat if introduced into urban water supplies. In November, Wildlife Services announced a nationwide safety review of its pesticide and hazardous chemical operations.

“Protecting sheep from coyotes does not require waging chemical warfare,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu, noting that even rancher groups concede that the two poisons account for only a small percentage of coyote removal. “The industry’s own figures show that a wide range of effective alternatives exists.”

Nonetheless, the ranching lobby has opened a vigorous double-barreled campaign to block the poison bans. For example, nearly a month before Rep. DeFazio introduced his bill, the industry recruited Rep. John Salazar (D-CO) to circulate a letter discouraging co-authors. In the letter, Rep. Salazar touted the benefits of Compound 1080, even though it is outlawed in his state. In 2001, however, someone in Grand Junction, Colorado illegally used Compound 1080 to poison 30 pets; even the policeman who handled the carcasses was sickened.

In addition, the industry is urging its members to submit public comments to EPA opposing the ban. In a surprising contrast, Mark and Jane Truax, members of the American Sheep Industry Association, wrote supporting the ban, pointing out that buying a guard llama ended coyote predation on their ranch.

“Scattering incredibly potent poisons across the range should not be a mainstay of modern wildlife management,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization in partnership with Sinapu organized the petition that EPA accepted for comment this past November. “Many of us are perhaps naively hopeful that the Environmental Protection Agency makes this decision on the merits.”

EPA had previously banned Compound 1080, but the Reagan Administration reversed the ban.

Press Release
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, January 9, 2008Contacts:
Wendy Keefover-Ring ||Sinapu || 303.596.3756
Carol Goldberg || PEER || 202.265.7337
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3 responses to “Livestock Lobby Pressures to Retain Wildlife Poisons

  1. Pingback: Livestock industry looks for more money for wildlife killing agency « Ralph Maughan’s Wildlife News

  2. It’s frightening how evil the government can be to appease the livestock industry! And, at OUR TAX DOLLARS!

  3. I lived this nightmare…I lived the poisoning of hundreds of non-target animals in the Canadian rockies when a game warden decided to use poison instead of stalking and killing a “problem” grizzly.

    In 1973 I was a guest at a friend’s cabin in the Yukon Territory of Canada. It was a pretty remote spot.
    My friend had a 150 Newfoundland dog named “get a hey”…The dog was a gentle giant. The dog also was allowed to roam freely as was the custom in that area. One day when I was at the cabin by myself, without warning, Get a Hey literally ran into the cabin screaming in pain and knocking the door in with his panic. He continued to run in circles and scream. I did not know what to do…After 15 minutes of this he died in my arms.
    I later found out that a poisoned carcass had been set out to kill this bear by the game warden, but that hundreds of other creatures had been see dead or dying in the area. I will never forget this horror till the day I die. To think that this is still going on, that people have not yet learned about the damage to wildlife that this kind of approach takes, makes me want to just sit and cry over what humans are and what we do to other living things.

    Su Neuhauser
    Ashland, Wisconsin