Huffman, Cohen, Merkley Introduce Bill to Keep Families and Pets Safe from Hazardous Cyanide Bombs

June 13, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Today, United States Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Steve Cohen (TN-09) and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) re-introduced Canyon’s Law, legislation to ban from public lands the M-44 ejector – a spring-loaded device filled with sodium cyanide used to kill predatory animals and pest species. 

“Cyanide bombs are a cruel and indiscriminate device that have proven to be deadly for pets, humans, and wildlife – regardless of the intended target,” said Rep. Huffman. “Families should be able to enjoy the outdoors without the fear of accidentally detonating these devices. They have no business being on our public lands, especially when there are far safer, proven methods to protect livestock, and our bill will bring an end to their use.”

"Cyanide bombs have no businesses being on public lands,” said Sen. Merkley. “These dangerous devices have no safeguard for our families and our pets, threatening animals and humans alike. More effective, safe, and humane predator control options are available, and should be the only options used on public lands.”

“The use of M-44 cyanide bombs to control wildlife is inhumane and unjustifiable. I am pleased to join Congressman Huffman and my other colleagues in ending this barbaric practice. With the passage of Canyon’s Law, hikers, campers and their pets will be able to traverse federal lands without the fear of harm or death from these inconspicuous devices,” Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9), a longtime member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus.

M-44s are small traps made up of a stake that is driven into the ground with a spring and a canister loaded with the powdered poison, sodium cyanide. Once they're set, the traps resemble sprinkler heads, and when triggered, the M-44 ejects a cloud of cyanide meant to kill coyotes, wild dogs, or foxes.

Canyon’s Law is named after Canyon Mansfield, an Idaho boy whose dog unfortunately came into contact with an M-44 while walking along public lands in 2017. His dog accidentally activated a M-44 device, and Canyon watched helplessly as his beloved companion suffered a cruel and painful death. Fortunately for Canyon, the wind pushed much of the cyanide away from him, yet he still suffers health effects five years later.

“No one should have to experience what my family and I went through with the death of our dog and the near death of our son,” said Dr. Mark Mansfield, father of Canyon. “Cyanide has no place being used anywhere in the U.S. as a pesticide or ‘lethal control’ weapon, such as an M-44 ‘cyanide bomb.’ All Americans can and should get behind this simple, common-sense law, ‘Canyon’s Law’.”

The USDA acknowledges that there are hundreds of unintended wildlife deaths every year as a result of these devices. These cyanide bombs have also caused severe, irreparable harm to people who have been exposed, either inadvertently or while trying to save their pets.

The legislation was originally introduced in the House by now-retired Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04). Last Congress, Congressman Huffman oversaw the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife hearing on this legislation. View his line of questioning with Dr. Mark Mansfield, Canyon's father. 

“Working side by side with the Mansfield family since their tragedy, as well as with other M-44 victims for over 30 years, I have witnessed the pain and loss these indiscriminate devices inflict,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, a national wildlife advocacy group. “Since M-44s can never be used safely, they must be banned. This is not a partisan issue. It’s a public safety issue.”

“Planting deadly, cyanide-spraying land mines in rural areas on public lands to kill native wildlife is unacceptable, both ecologically and from a public safety standpoint,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “We should end M-44 cyanide bomb use permanently, before any more children, pets, and wildlife are poisoned by this barbaric device.”

“Wildlife Services' refusal to end the use of M-44 sodium cyanide devices shows both an unwillingness to transition away from archaic lethal methods, as well as a cruel indifference to the threats posed to people, pets, and wildlife,” said Susan Millward, Executive Director and CEO of the Animal Welfare Institute. “These dangerous devices have no place on America's public lands. We urge Congress to stand up to Wildlife Services and end the use of this inhumane method.”

“Across U.S. public lands, M-44 ‘cyanide bombs’ have had devastating impacts on people, pets and wildlife” said Carson Barylak, campaigns manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “We applaud the reintroduction of Canyon’s Law and look forward to continuing Canyon’s courageous fight to eliminate deadly cyanide traps from lands meant to be protected for all Americans.”

The bill in endorsed by Predator Defense, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Western Watersheds Project.

Original co-sponsors of the legislation in the House include Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Susan DelBene (WA-01), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Dina Titus (NV-01). In the Senate, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

Text of the House legislation can be found here.

Text of the Senate legislation can be found here.