M44s: Sodium Cyanide Capsules


Courtesy Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense         

M-44s are small, baited cylinders designed to shoot sodium cyanide into the mouth of any curious animal. They’re used in areas where livestock have been reported killed by predators and can be legally placed only by Wildlife Services, an agency of the Federal Government. The cylinder is mostly buried with the top couple of inches poking out of the ground. This exposed end is baited to attract coyotes and other canids.

Two dogs were killed in Utah in 2006 by M-44 devices. The first occurred on BLM land in Uintah County near Vernal where a man and his dog were rabbit hunting at a popular hunting and fishing area. The second, also on BLM land, occurred in the Lawson Cove area in Millard County where a woman was with her dog at a community rock pit.

M-44s kill. Nothing can be done once the poisonous gas fills an animal’s lungs. Dogs
generally start vomiting and foaming at the mouth, and are usually dead within minutes. The use of these traps is regulated by the federal government. They may only be used after evidence of predators harming livestock or threatened or endangered species. They are not to be used on federal lands designated for recreational use; however, federal lands in Utah, especially BLM lands, are often used for ranching as well as recreation.

M-44s have also poisoned people. Signs in both English and Spanish must be posted at common access points to an area where M-44s are in use.

Elevated signs are also required within 25 feet of each device. Pets, and especially children, should be kept away from all known M-44 use areas.

Pets lost to M-44s often go unreported. Government agencies have records that are fragmentary at best. If you lose a pet to an M-44, it will be helpful to other pet owners and government agencies alike to have a necropsy (animal autopsy) performed so the cause of death can be verified.