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EPA reconsiders use of 'cyanide bombs'

The Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering its approvals of spring-loaded poison traps to kill wild predators.

In an Aug. 15 announcement, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said he was withdrawing an interim decision that would have modified but continued the registration for sodium cyanide, which is used in M-44 devices to kill coyotes, foxes, and feral dogs. Agency officials found the decision needed further review.

The products remain available under the existing registration during the review, an EPA spokesperson said. EPA information indicates M-44 devices—known as cyanide bombs—are loaded with a single-dose sodium cyanide capsule and used with bait to kill wildlife that prey on livestock. They are used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and agriculture departments in at least five states: Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, Wheeler's announcement states.

"I look forward to continuing this dialogue to ensure U.S. livestock remain well-protected from dangerous predators while simultaneously minimizing off-target impacts on both humans and non-predatory animals," Wheeler said in the announcement.

The announcement notes risks to nontarget bird and mammal species. The EPA review will include examinations of the precautions needed for use, such as notices to people near the devices and where they can be placed.

New practice resource simplifies antimicrobial stewardship

Veterinarians examining a dairy calfA new tool for AVMA members streamlines the development and implementation of an effective antimicrobial stewardship plan for veterinary practices.

The veterinary checklist for antimicrobial stewardship goes through actions that practicing veterinarians can take to support good stewardship. The checklist is organized around five key activities:

  • Commit to stewardship.
  • Advocate for a system of care to prevent common diseases.
  • Select and use antimicrobials judiciously.
  • Evaluate antimicrobial use.
  • Educate and build expertise.

The checklist complements the AVMA's definition and core principles of stewardship. Practices can use it to first establish a baseline and then regularly review progress.

The checklist is part of a growing inventory of practical resources that help AVMA members practice good stewardship and talk with clients about effective antimicrobial use. Other tools include free client handouts and posters, an FAQ document, and more. These can be found along with related AVMA policies and other materials at AVMA's Antimicrobial Use and Antimicrobial Resistance web page.

The stewardship checklist was developed by the AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials and AVMA staff, and it builds on work done by an earlier volunteer group, the AVMA Task Force on Antimicrobial Stewardship in Companion Animal Practice.

FSIS expands tests for man-made contaminants

Department of Agriculture food inspectors will look for more environmental contaminants and drug residues in meat and eggs.

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service officials announced Aug. 30 they are adding tests in beef for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which are persistent environmental contaminants from materials made in the U.S. since the 1940s. Products made with the substances include Teflon, stain-repellent fabrics, polishes, firefighting foam, and some food packaging.

Agency officials also are shifting to a new drug residue screening method able to detect 107 compounds—up from 92—in kidney and muscle tissue of cattle, pigs, poultry, goats, and sheep, as well as catfish muscle tissue and liquid egg products.

FSIS is adding the PFAS testing during the federal fiscal year 2020, which started Oct. 1. The agency also planned to start use of the new drug screening method Oct. 1 and expand use during the fiscal year.

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Related JAVMA content:

AVMA defines stewardship, judicious use (March 1, 2018)