Cyanide traps pose danger to wildlife, pets and people

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According to the EPA, cyanide traps are sprung 30,000 times per year. The traps kill thousands of coyotes and other non-targeted wildlife, dozens of dogs and even injured a 14-year-old boy in Idaho in March. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) According to the EPA, cyanide traps are sprung 30,000 times per year. The traps kill thousands of coyotes and other non-targeted wildlife, dozens of dogs and even injured a 14-year-old boy in Idaho in March. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered new guidelines for using cyanide traps in the wild, in response to growing criticism from environmentalists and the public.

"These devices are deadly and indiscriminate," said Andrea Santarsiere, who works for the Center for Biological Diversity (one of several environmental groups demanding that the government stop using the devices).

M-44 cyanide traps are used across the country to control predator populations, including in Arizona. They are spring-loaded with a cyanide capsule inside. Bait is often placed on the top to lure coyotes or foxes. When an animal chews at the bait, the capsule shoots into its mouth. But the devices also kill other wildlife and pets.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, cyanide traps are sprung 30,000 times per year. The traps kill thousands of coyotes and other non-targeted wildlife, dozens of dogs and even injured a 14-year-old boy in Idaho in March.

"They are a serious risk to people, especially children, pets and native wildlife," Santarsiere said.

The new guidelines from USDA officials call for warning signs to be placed within 15 feet of the devices. The agency will also expand its review of the of the devices and conduct a comprehensive analysis of their use and placement.

Cyanide traps have been used for decades to control predator populations near ranches in an effort to protect livestock. But there are widely differing views about how much damage predators, like coyotes, wolves and foxes, actually cause to livestock populations. Critics say they are responsible for fewer livestock deaths than bad weather, accidents and disease.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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