DENVER — Today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the final interim decision for the registered use of sodium cyanide. Working with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the label for this predator control tool will include three additional use restrictions to promote public awareness and decrease non-target impacts. American Sheep Industry Association President Benny Cox said this announcement is welcomed by our nation’s sheep producers.
“We sincerely appreciate USDA and EPA working together to ensure livestock producers have access to effective predator control, while also increasing public awareness and transparency,” said Cox. “Livestock producers face heavy losses from predators, amounting to more than $232 million in death losses annually. We are particularly vulnerable during lambing and calving, where we see the worst predation. The use of tools like sodium cyanide placed by USDA Wildlife Services is most critical. Death losses to predators are not pretty. Not only do they take a toll on an operation’s ability to survive financially, they take a personal toll on the producer and their family.”
Sodium cyanide has been registered as a predicide since the 1940s and is only used with the oversight of federal or state wildlife officials. In the field, a capsule containing a precisely measured amount of sodium cyanide is inserted into a mechanically spring-loaded bait station, called an M-44. The M-44 is staked into the ground in a location where predation has been a problem. The M-44 ejector deposits the sodium cyanide directly into the mouth of the target canid. The M-44 was initially developed in the 1960s and got its name because it was the forty-fourth method for delivery tested. In states where it is licensed for use, sodium cyanide is responsible for more than 16 percent of coyote takes. Sodium cyanide used in the M-44 is extremely targeted, resulting in less than 2 percent non-target species takes annually. It is also environmentally safe, degrading to non-detectable levels in less than 24 hours.
“Sodium cyanide is the most effective, most targeted and safest predator control method available to livestock producers,” said Cox. “Without this tool, many sheep producers would not be in business, including many in my home state of Texas. While over 24 percent of sheep producers use livestock guardian dogs, and many more employ various other non-lethal methods to control predation, tools like sodium cyanide remain a critical component in our industry’s ability to survive.”