Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Manmade Threat in the Wilds of Utah- The M-44 Sodium Cyanide Capsule

M-44s are spring-loaded devices topped with bait lures. When an animal tugs on the bait, a spring sprays sodium cyanide powder into the animal’s mouth. The cyanide turns into gas once it mixes with moisture from the mouth that is readily absorbed into the lungs. After less than two minutes, a victim of an M-44 device dies.

These animals were among 24 lions killed by the federal agency Animal Damage Control (now called Wildlife Services) in the Galiuro mountains of Arizona, a wilderness area North of Willcox. All were killed on federal lands on the Coronado National Forest over a six-month period from December 1988-May 1989. While it is uncertain whether any of these cougars ever preyed on livestock, the ostensible purpose of the killings was to protect cattle that were grazing on public lands. This type of indiscriminate lethal predator control continues in almost all of the states where mountain lions occur.


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