The bombs that kill our wildlife

February 25, 2020 1:41 PM

In Montana, we still allow the government agency known as Wildlife Services to destroy predator species by the use of cyanide bombs. The devices that look much like a sprinkler for your yard are placed on public and private lands across the state, often at the urging of the livestock industry. Yet, it’s these devices that kill thousands of dogs, eagles, bears and other wildlife that remain its unintended victims. But perhaps most important it is also killing people.

Wildlife Services last year alone killed more than 3.2 million animals in all 50 states. M-44’s are cartridges, which are spring loaded and are covered with an attractant. That has led to other wildlife such as eagles landing and being killed by M-44’s. Several years ago it almost led to the death of a young boy in Idaho that went to a hill behind his home with his dog as he often did. On that faithful day, he noticed a device in the ground, thinking it was a sprinkler he bent down to touch it and it exploded. Because of the direction of the wind, he lived, but his dog died in his arms.

His parents were outraged that a device was so close to their home and they began a campaign to eliminate these “bombs” from their state. As a result, Idaho has banned their use. But here in Montana, it’s bombs away, with these devices being set up on lands with much of the public having no idea that they or a family pet could be in arms way.

Wildlife Services should be disbanded. There is no need with the science we have and our increasing understanding of wildlife that we continue killing predator species. They are vital to a healthy and sustainable environment. Predator species are self-regulating and it’s important to understand the generous subsidies that the livestock industry enjoys. Like any business there is risk. Destroying so many animals to appease a 19th century mentality is not making our land healthier or society better.

Wolves, coyotes, bears and other magnificent creatures deserve to co-exist, not be destroyed by cyanide bombs. Wildlife Services must be reined in, and hopefully one day dissolved.

On Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Grouse Mountain Lodge, Footloose Montana will be showing, the award winning film, “Lethal Control” by Missoula Filmmaker Jamie Drysdale on M-44’s. Admission is free.

Stephen Capra is the Executive Director of Footloose Montana.