Anti-coyote ‘cyanide bomb’ hurts 14yo Idaho boy, kills his dog
The device, called an M-44, is spring-loaded to discharge poisonous sodium cyanide powder if it is pulled on. The US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services uses the scent-baited booby-traps to kill predator animals like coyotes, foxes, wolves, and cougars that can pose a risk to homes, livestock, and hiking trails.
However, in Thursday’s incident, which occurred near Buck Skin Road east of Pocatello, Idaho, an M-44 sprayed Canyon Mansfield, 14, and his three-year-old yellow Lab, Casey, as the two were walking on a hill near the family home.
“I see this little pipe that looked like a sprinkler sticking out of the ground,” Canyon told EastIdahoNews.com. “I go over and touch it. Then it makes a pop sound and it spews orange gas everywhere.”
The powder got into the teen’s left eye and onto his clothing, he said. He only realized his dog was hurt after washing his eye out with snow.
“I look over and see him having a seizure,” Canyon said, adding “I ran over and he had these glassy eyes. He couldn’t see me, and he had this red stuff coming out of his mouth.”
The boy called for help, and his father Mark, a medical doctor, tried to resuscitate Casey, but failed.
It took hours before the cause of the dog’s death could be linked to the Department of Agriculture’s predator-control program.
“We didn’t know anything about it. No neighborhood notifications, and our local authorities didn’t know anything about them,” Mark said. “The sheriff’s deputies who went up there didn’t even know what a cyanide bomb was,” he noted.
Canyon was taken to hospital for treatment, and the family and Bannock County sheriff’s deputies that had responded to the incident had their blood tested for possible cyanide poisoning.
The Wildlife Services said on Friday that the incident near Pocatello was the first “unintentional lethal take of a dog” by an M-44 in Idaho since 2014.
“Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses,” R. Andre Bell, a spokesman for the US Department of Agriculture, said in a statement. “Wildlife Services has removed M-44s in that immediate area. Wildlife Services is completing a thorough review of the circumstances of this incident, and will work to review our operating procedures to determine whether improvements can be made to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences happening in the future,” it continues.
The statement added that M-44s are only planted at the request of property owners, claiming the service “posts signs and issues other warnings to alert pet owners when wildlife traps or other devices are being used in an area for wildlife damage management.”
“The USDA’s statement regarding the horrific incident that happened to my family yesterday is both disrespectful and inaccurate,” said Canyon’s sister, Madison Mansfield. “The USDA intentionally refers to the brutal killing of our dog as a ‘take’ to render his death trivial and insignificant,” she stressed.
“They also claim that the killing of an unintended victim is a rare occurrence, but this is entirely untrue. In fact, this issue is nationally recognized due to the lack of selectivity of cyanide bombs, and there have been many reported incidents in which unintended animals and people have been targeted,” she told the Idaho State Journal.
Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said no notice had been given to local authorities about the placement of M-44s in the area.
“I’ve been a sheriff here for 20 years and worked for the office for 39 years, and I’ve never heard of leaving around a device that emits poisonous gas,” he said, as cited by Reuters, adding that he would be meeting the federal authorities next week to “get to the bottom of it.”