VALE — Wildlife Services, which works to resolve wildlife/human conflicts, is regaining two of the tools it uses to control predators in Malheur County and hopes to get another one back.
Curt Mattson, acting district supervisor for the USDA Wildlife Services in eastern Oregon, shared this information with members of the county court during their meeting Wednesday. He said the service will soon be able to again use DRC-1339 to control starlings and ravens around feedlots and calving and lambing facilities.
The toxicant has been in short supply due of the loss of a manufacturer, Mattson said. However, a new manufacturer has been secured and the chemical has been re-registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, he said, so supplies would be good.
Also coming back to the Wildlife Services arsenal is M-44 cyanide devices which is the primary tool for coyote control on the ground.
The devices came under scrutiny in 2017, Mattson said, because of an incidental killing of a wolf in Oregon as well as domestic dogs around the country. Due to this, use of the devices was halted over the use of amyl nitrate as the antidote.
In April of 2017 — about a month after an M-44 anti-predator device deployed, spraying sodium cyanide in the face of a 14-year-old boy in eastern Idaho and killing his dog — the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was ending its use of the M-44 mechanisms in Idaho indefinitely.
Western Watersheds Project was among more than 20 groups that sought the ban in Idaho, and other activist groups have been pushing for a permanent national ban on the devices, according to information found on the Center for Biological Diversity’s website.
However, according to the information from the USDA and Mattson, the antidote issues have been resolved with the relabel of the toxicant and added restrictions. As soon an EPA label is registered in Oregon, M-44s will be used again in Malheur County, he said.
In addition, a pilot is still being sought for the Wildlife Services fixed-wing aircraft, which would allow resumption of shooting coyotes from an airplane to control numbers.
Another animal Wildlifes Services works to control is beavers, however that is on hold because of a lawsuit filed by environmental groups to stop killing of those mammals, which they see as beneficial to salmon. Wildlife services is under a cease and desist order until the lawsuit is resolved, Mattson said.
There is an attempt to have Malheur and Harney counties removed from the order, Mattson said as beaver issues here mainly involve irrigation facilities.