Why It Matters: Our nation’s professional wildlife managers are often tasked with addressing human-wildlife conflicts over large, often rural, or remote areas, on limited budgets and staff capacity. M-44s not only serve as an important tool for these professionals given their limited resources, but they are also highly effective in managing the targeted wildlife. Unfortunately, H.R. 4951 does not take into the account the highly restrictive management practices that are required to utilize M-44s and the effectiveness of these devices.
On July 21, the House Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee held a hearing on H.R. 4951, a piece of legislation that would hinder the ability of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, (APHIS) Wildlife Services, and other wildlife professionals to manage problem wildlife. This legislation seeks to ban the use of M-44 devices on federal public lands.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation strongly supports our wildlife professionals and their efforts to address human-wildlife conflicts with the tools they deem necessary and appropriate. That is why CSF actively opposed H.R. 4951 in advance of the legislative hearing last Thursday. CSF’s statement in opposition spoke to the value of M-44s and the need to provide deference to our wildlife managers in determining the tools needed to successfully manage the nation’s wildlife.
The M-44 is an ejector device that is spring-activated and delivers a dose of cyanide powder to targeted problem wildlife. Importantly, the M-44 device can only be used by professional wildlife managers, such as Wildlife Services, not the lay-sportsman or woman. Currently, only 14 states authorize the use of M-44s by Wildlife Services. Of those 14, there are only 5 states that have registrations for non-Wildlife Services applicators to use M-44s, however, these applicators are still trained and certified wildlife professionals. Furthermore, there are 26 use restrictions that serve as guidelines for Wildlife Services and other professionals utilizing M-44s to ensure the safety of the user, the public, and non-target species.
In 2019, USDA stated, “USDA recognizes the importance of the M-44 Sodium Cyanide Capsule in managing predation caused by wildlife. The M-44 is one of the safest, most selective, and efficient tools available to producers in situations where predators are causing excessive damage to agriculture, livestock, or impacting threatened and endangered species”. Opponents of M-44s device will argue these devices are indiscriminate. However, a Montana case study that looked at M-44 use by non-USDA-Wildlife Services applicators between 2006-2019 showed that non-target species only accounted for 6.7% of non-Wildlife Service applicators take. During that same time period, non-target take by Wildlife Services with M-44s only accounted for 0.23%, demonstrating the effectiveness of M-44s in taking targeted wildlife.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to oppose H.R. 4951 and other legislative efforts that seek to undermine our wildlife professionals.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?