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EPA approves compound 1080 for collar use.

In a move that has aroused the ire of some conservationists, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week approved the pesticide sodium monofluoroacetate, or "Compound 1080," for use in special "livestock protection" collars. The collars, to be worn by sheep, goats and other livestock, are designed to control coyotes that prey on such animals.

Compound 1080 has been banned since 1972 because of evidence that it could accidentally kill animals other than coyotes, including endangered species and human beings. But the collar, according to EPA, is a "more selective way" to use the compound, "controlling only those coyotes that prey on livestock." Since coyotes normally kill their prey with bites to the throat, they are expected to receive fatal doses of the compound when their teeth puncture the rubber collar's reservoir containing the compound.

Conservationists say they are concerned with difficulties in controlling the pesticide, such as secondary poisonings. "One of our concerns is with the 1080 dribbling down a sheep's neck after the coyote's killed it," says Susan Hagood of the Washington, D.C.-based Defenders of Wildlife. "Out there in the wide-open spaces you can't control how much 1080 gets consumed by nontarget scavenger species, like golden eagles, vultures or crows." However, EPA spokesperson Al Heier says, "since the amount used in the collars is . . . a low concentration, we think the Compound 1080 will only affect the coyotes and wild dogs."

Hagood, who estimates that one teaspoon of the compound in powdered form could kill 30 to 100 people, says she's also concerned that ranchers, once they obtain the collars, could easily extract the poison in order to engage in the illegal practice of lacing bait carcasses and placing them out on the range. This was common practice before the 1972 ban, but only employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service -- and not ranchers -- were legally authorized to use the poison in this way. EPA, however, says it will not let the ranchers use the collars unless they are specially trained and certified in the product's proper use and disposal, 3 feet underground and one-half mile from human habitations or water. "We're concerned about illegal uses too," says Heier, "and that's why the regulations are written so that it's a federal offense to extract the poison."

Says Dick Randall, a Wyoming-based representative of Defenders of Wildlife, "You can put all the regulations you want on paper, but we're talking about millions of acres with no one looking over your shoulder." Randall has been collecting information on illegal poisonings with 1080 and other substances in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.
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Title Annotation:livestock protection collars
Author:Mathewson, Judith
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 27, 1985
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