ASPCA Applauds Reps. John Campbell and Peter DeFazio for Introducing Bill to Protect Pets from Deadly Poisons

H.R. 4214 would ban Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide used in lethal wildlife control
March 20, 2012

NEW YORK—As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) for introducing H.R. 4214, legislation to protect pets and wildlife from the deadly poisons Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide. These dangerous chemicals, already banned in several states, are used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency to kill wildlife species considered by ranchers and landowners to be nuisances. However, unattended traps and poisons often expose domesticated animals and humans to these lethal poisons.  

"We commend Reps. Campbell and DeFazio for introducing this common sense legislation to ban Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide M-44 devices," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "As long as Wildlife Services continues to use tax dollars for inefficient and indiscriminate lethal methods of wildlife population management, the agency places our pets at risk and inflicts terrible suffering on thousands of wild animals each year."

Compound 1080 is an extremely lethal poison with no antidote; just one teaspoon can kill up to 100 people. After the misuse of Compound 1080 led to many human deaths in the 1950s and 1960s, the Environmental Protection Agency banned its use in 1972.  Unfortunately, after intensive lobbying from the livestock industry, the poison was re-approved in the 1980s for use in "Livestock Protection Collars," devices worn by sheep and other livestock that release the poison when punctured by wild predators.

Furthermore, M-44 devices are spring loaded traps that release a deadly dose of sodium cyanide when an animal makes contact with the device.  Baited with a substance that attracts canines, M-44 devices indiscriminately discharge poison across an area of up to five feet.  Often left unmarked, these devices not only endanger pets, but humans have also suffered from inadvertently springing the traps. Just last year in Texas, a pet dog named Bella was killed by a M-44 device containing sodium cyanide set by Wildlife Services less than a mile from her family’s home.

"Data reported by the USDA shows that less than one percent of livestock are killed by predators, yet the federal government hands over millions in taxpayer-subsidized wildlife extermination services to private agribusiness every year," said Representative Campbell. "Through the use of very dangerous toxins like Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide, this extermination service oftentimes kills indiscriminately and results in the targeting of non-predatory wildlife and household pets. With more humane and effective predator control methods already in use, banning these poisons is a reasonable measure that protects both animals and the taxpayer." 

"Compound 1080 and M-44 sodium cyanide capsules are lethal, dangerous, and unnecessary poisons," added Representative DeFazio. "They pose a very serious threat to our nation's citizens, wildlife, and domesticated animals. I am pleased to support this legislation which would halt the use of these needlessly dangerous poisons permanently."

Last year, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Ill. fielded more than 165,000 phone calls about pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances. If your dog or cat accidentally ingests a potentially toxic substance, please contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for immediate assistance. For more information, please visit