News Releases from Headquarters›Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP)
Statement by EPA Administrator Wheeler on M-44, Predator Control Devices
WASHINGTON (Aug. 15, 2019) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the EPA would reevaluate the use of M-44 devices to control wild animals that prey on livestock and other animals.
“I am announcing a withdrawal of EPA’s interim registration review decision on sodium cyanide, the compound used in M-44 devices to control wild predators. This issue warrants further analysis and additional discussions by EPA with the registrants of this predacide. USDA is the primary registrant, along with five other state departments of agriculture: Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. I look forward to continuing this dialogue to ensure U.S. livestock remain well-protected from dangerous predators while simultaneously minimizing off-target impacts on both humans and non-predatory animals.”
How is it used? As a predacide, sodium cyanide is manufactured as an encapsulated single-dose product, which is inserted into an M-44 spring loaded ejector device near fetid bait, to control animals (foxes, coyotes, feral dogs) that prey upon threatened or endangered species, and/or livestock. As an insecticide, sodium cyanide is used as a source of hydrogen cyanide gas for quarantine fumigation of surface pests on citrus. EPA human health risk assessments under FIFRA review the proper and labeled uses of products and in the case of this predacide, EPA found that when properly utilized, there are no dietary, residential, or occupational risks of concern to humans. However, there are risks to non-target species. EPA has found that “[s]ome bird and mammal species may have direct exposure to M-44 baits, especially medium to large-sized animals that may be attracted to the baits.” Our 26 label changes – now being re-evaluated - address those concerns via notices, set-backs, and other precautionary requirements for proper use.
- Sodium cyanide was first registered as a predacide in the late 1940s.
- EPA issued the Reregistration Eligibility Decision for sodium cyanide in 1994.
- In 2007, several organizations, represented by Sinapu submitted a petition to cancel the registrations for M-44.
- In January 2009, EPA denied a petition to cancel these registrations (see: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0752-0002). As part of this decision, EPA conducted an analysis of the role of M-44 in predator control programs (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0752-0027).
- At the beginning of the Obama Administration, petitioners sought a reconsideration of the petition denial. The agency upheld the Bush Administration decision (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-0944-0879).
- In 2017, Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition seeking the cancellation of M-44.
- In the Fall of 2018, EPA denied this petition (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0752-0089).