Equine Rescue

‘Horrific incident’: Family Speaks Out after Pet Dog Killed by ‘Cyanide Bomb’

By Shelbie Harris as published on The Idaho State Journal

“While at first glance this sad story might not appear to have much to do with wild horses and burros but it most certainly applies, with spades.  Some time ago, myself and fellow investigators from Wild Horse Freedom Federation were documenting BLM Contract long term holding facilities when we came across one contractor’s property, used to house former wild horses, with prominent signs indicating that like poison devices were in use on the very same property that captive wild horses were grazing.  To date, this finding haunts us as we continue to seek ways and means to stop the barbaric removal of protected wild horses and burros from their congressionaly approved, rightful range.” ~ R.T.

Signage on BLM contractor’s property housing former wild horses. (Click to Enlarge) ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

POCATELLO — As he walked his dog along the ridgeline of the hillside just south of his family’s home on West Buckskin Road, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield noticed what he thought was a sprinkler head protruding 6 inches from the ground.

Like many curious teenagers would, he bent down and touched the pipe, which erupted with a loud popping noise that knocked Canyon off his feet. A hissing sound ensued and Canyon noticed his clothing and face were covered with an orange, powdery substance. After quickly washing his face and clothes in a nearby patch of snow, he called for his dog, a 3-year-old Lab named Casey.

But Canyon’s best friend didn’t respond.

“He just stayed on the ground mumbling,” Canyon said. “I thought he was playing with his toy, but I saw the toy a couple yards away from him. … So, I called him again and got really scared. I sprinted toward him and landed on my knees and saw this red froth coming from his mouth and his eyes turning glassy and he was having a seizure.”

Within minutes, Casey was dead.

“My little brother is lying in bed crying next to me,” said Canyon’s sister, Madison Mansfield. “He spent yesterday in the emergency room after stumbling upon an unmarked cyanide bomb in the woods directly behind my home. He watched his best friend suffocate as sodium cyanide was deposited in his mouth.”

Canyon was taken to Portneuf Medical Center, where he was treated and released. But he must continue daily follow-up appointments to check toxicity levels.

On Thursday afternoon, Casey joined thousands of other non-targeted animals — both wild and domestic — that have been mistakenly killed by one of the most lethal tools at the disposal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture — spring-loaded metal cylinders that are baited with scent that shoot sodium cyanide powder into the mouth or face of whatever or whoever touches them.

Known as M-44 devices, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) division of the USDA deploys these sodium cyanide capsules throughout the West to protect livestock from coyotes, wild dogs, and red and gray foxes.

M-44s are hollow metal tubes 5 to 7 inches long that are driven into the ground, loaded with 0.9 grams of sodium cyanide and coated with the smelliest bait possible…(CONTINUED)


11 replies »

  1. We decry third world countries and various thugs for planting IEDs and land mines, yet here we not only allow this horrific indiscriminate killing tool, but have taxpayers pay for it!

    The article claims the USDA hired person who planted them in this case is “unidentified” which is complete BS. Someone is cashing a paycheck and plenty of people know who s/he is.

    Also furious about the claim this is the first “unintended” victim since 2014… as if they would know everything that staggered off and died after hitting one of these time bombs?

    It should be a felony to plant these on public lands, period. It would be cheaper to send the livestock home and let their owners protect them on their own land. This boy could have died to protect a cow who brings a producer around $50 profit per year, while the grazing permit system and related wildlife killing “services” costs taxpayers millions annually.

    Write your elected officials and register your disgust! It would be cheaper and more ethical to buy armor suits for cows and sheep than to allow (and unwillingly pay for) this sort of random terrorism on our own soil.


  2. The thought of this kid having to watch his dog die? How many times is this going to happen – to domestic pets AND people – just so this “agency” can slaughter our wildlife. This is just not right – the whole idea of this – killing predators (plus others) because livestock producers refuse protect their own stock – which CAN be done by non-lethal methods. It seems slaughtering wild animals is easier!


  3. “M-44s are sweet-smelling capsules that deliver a fatal dose of poison to the face or inside of the mouth when activated by an animal drawn to the scent, causing suffering no one should have to endure.

    Wildlife Services’ overall kill count was over 2.7 million animals last year — and its cyanide devices alone kill thousands of wild creatures annually, including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, bears, wolves and even pets like Casey.”
    – Center for Biological Diversity


  4. Reblogged this on Joyously Hopeful and commented:
    APHIS agency records show that more than 3,400 animals have been mistakenly killed by M-44s between 2006 and 2012. These include black bears, bobcats, raccoons, opossums, ravens, ringtails, red fox, gray fox, kit fox, swift fox, turkey vultures and dogs, according to the Sacramento Bee.


    • Cows will eat or chew almost anything — so it’s at least likely some were killed by these M 44s as well. If so there should be records since we taxpayers would have to reimburse the rancher for this sort of loss, too.


  5. Federally protected, but yet the Feds are worst at destroying our beloved mustangs and burros at tax payers expensive. After all the petitions and phone calls to the WH to NO avail……I personally think it’s high time WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, start suing the USA for breaking the laws we put voted for.


    • A class action suit? I’m not a lawyer but I think the government is immune to such suits, and employees are protected unless proven negligent in their duties. The only voice we have is at the ballot, and since so few actually voted last fall there is a lot of room for improvement. Citizenship requires a modest amount of responsibility, including voting. Something everyone can do is get information about issues to non-voters, and ask them to form their own opinions and then take the trouble to vote. Without voting our country and form of government is lost.


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