Groups say M-44 predator control is not needed 4 sage grouse

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Conservationists Fight Cyanide Bait Use.

Sunday, January 20, 2002
 
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

   BOISE, Idaho -- A conservation coalition wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deny a fellow department's request to expand use of spring-loaded cyanide baits for predators in Idaho.

   Defenders of Wildlife and six regional groups oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Service's efforts to use M-44s.

   They are spring-loaded baits that attract canines and other animals and kill them with a spray of sodium cyanide into their mouths.

   Expanded M-44 use, if approved, would be directed at coyotes and foxes. Wildlife Services contends the animals may be responsible for declines in western sage grouse populations.

   The Defenders contend sage grouse experts disagree that predators are a major factor in the bird's decline across the Intermountain West. They point to severe changes in habitat caused by overgrazing, extensive wildfires and other impacts to sagebrush.

   Currently, Wildlife Services is permitted to use M-44s in certain Western states to kill predators of livestock.

   Of the approximately 80,000 to 100,000 coyotes killed by Wildlife Services each year, about 20,000 are killed with M-44s. The indiscriminate device also kills imperiled species like the gray wolf, Defenders said.

   "Killing foxes and coyotes will not solve the sage grouse problem; we have to improve their habitat," said Laird Lucas, an attorney with the Land and Water Fund.

   "Last year we stopped Wildlife Services in federal court from going forward with this nutty scheme, and they have done nothing to improve it now. We hope EPA will put a halt to it, so we don't have to go back to court again."
 


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