Special Report: KPVI Investigates Cyanide traps and the USDA

story by as broadcast/published on KPVI.com

“This is not the first time the USDA had a run in with the Gate City…”

It’s almost been two months since a Pocatello family lost their dog and almost their son to a cyanide trap set 300 yards behind their house. Since then the USDA says they’ve taken all the traps out of the Gem state. But that hasn’t changed anything to investigators who say they were never notified of the deadly chemical, meant to kill predators, planted around Bannock County.

The incident began in the Buckskin area back in March. Canyon Mansfield says, “I panicked and sprinted down to get my mom.” The 14-year-old and his dog Kasey were 300 yards away from their house. He describes, “Suddenly there’s like a pop and then orange gas spews out.” The Mansfield family dog died and they almost lost their son as well. Theresa Mansfield, Canyon’s mother says, “We didn’t want to believe it was from Cyanide poisoning, but deep down it scared the crap out of us.”

The Cyanide trap was placed on BLM land with no warnings in sight. Investigators found a second trap not far from the first. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen says, “We’re not Alaska. There are wilderness places where people go. I don’t care what the purpose is. If it’s endangering public it shouldn’t be there.”

Since the death of Kasey there’s been a worldwide outcry. The Bannock County’s Sheriff’s office has launched their investigation. The city has also stepped in. In March Pocatello’s Mayor Brian Blad wrote a letter to the USDA asking them to stop manufacturing Cyanide Traps, or M-44’s, in the city. Since then the agency reached out to the mayor. He says he toured the facility, learned about their safety precautions and products “They’re going to continue to do their practice until congress acts,” said Blad.

This is not the first time the USDA had a run in with the Gate City. Seven years ago the agency was responsible for illegally setting “Quick Kill” traps, meant for Rock chucks within city limits. Obtained by KPVI in an incident report by Pocatello’s animal control, an elderly woman called them after finding a cat trapped alive in a “quick kill” trap or Conibear trap in her backyard. She admitted to the city she requested the traps from the USDA. She says at least three cats had been killed before and they were removed by the local USDA representative Todd Sullivan. Sullivan is the same man involved in the Mansfield investigation. In 2010 the charges against Sullivan were dismissed by a federal judge.

The city and USDA came to an agreement that they would not place Conibear traps in Pocatello without notifying the city first. The USDA declined to speak to KPVI on camera, but gave us a written statement answering our questions. They told us, the incident involving the Mansfield Dog is still under investigation and can’t comment. But claimed they had “107 M-44’s set on 16 properties in the state and all have been removed.” Our request to tour the Pocatello manufacturing facility was denied, they say because of security concerns.

The agency tells us the Pocatello location has been manufacturing M-44 deceives since 1969. And also handles, “Gas cartridges for fumigating rodent burrows, rodent grain baits…, predator lures, and repackages other products such as order control products and animal immobilization drugs.”

The sheriff’s investigation is now left in the hands of county prosecutors to find if any state laws were violated. In the meantime, the sheriff says this to residents, “We now have to be aware of our surroundings. If there is something that is out there that is not part of… leave it alone, leave it alone,” Nielsen said.

WWP Wins Ban of M-44 Wildlife ‘Cyanide Bombs’ in Idaho

News Bulletin from Western Watersheds Project

“Our delight with the statewide ban on M-44s across Idaho is tempered by several factors…”

When Canyon Mansfield and his dog were sprayed with cyanide by a Wildlife Services M-44 “coyote getter” near Pocatello three weeks ago, Western Watersheds Project convened a group of conservationists and animal welfare groups to to draw up a strategy. As part of our strategy, WWP filed an Administrative Procedures Act petition on behalf of ourselves and 19 other groups demanding that the agency to cease the use of M-44s statewide in Idaho, and remove those that were already deployed. Much to our surprise, yesterday we received a letter from Wildlife Services committing to exactly these requests.

Our delight with the statewide ban on M-44s across Idaho is tempered by several factors. The new ban doesn’t bring Canyon Mansfield’s dog back to life, nor can it take away the trauma this 14-year-old boy has experienced as a result of this wildlife-killing device. And it isn’t necessarily a permanent ban – Wildlife Services committed to informing WWP at least 30 days in advance if they ever deploy M-44s in Idaho again, but we don’t know if the reprieve for wildlife and public safety will last a month, a year, or a decade.

In writing the petition and generating the media around it, WWP was able to draw upon a wealth of knowledge assembled over decades by Predator Defense, the organization that leads efforts to ban these devices at the nationwide level. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen and Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad spoke out strongly against M-44s in the media. The Idaho State Journal issued a blistering editorial condemning M-44s, and journalists across Idaho and throughout the country elevated the tragedy and the need to get rid of M-44s to a nationwide issue.  And the Mansfield family themselves had the strength an endurance to bring their personal tragedy into the national spotlight in hopes that what happened to their son would never happen to anyone else’s children ever again.

This is an important, if temporary, victory. But there is a long road ahead. We hope to make the Idaho ban on M-44s permanent, and to see the manufacturing facility and storage depot in Pocatello permanently closed. We are advocating to eliminate the use of the deadly toxin Compound 1080 and its poison baits that likewise kill family pets on an all-too-frequent basis. We are pursuing legal challenges to shut down killing programs of all kinds pursued by Wildlife Services, from aerial gunning to traps and snares, that target our native wildlife for eradication. And we are pressing for federal legislation to end these taxpayer-funded killing programs.

We want to be sure we recognize each one of our conservation partners who joined us in the petition that brought this victory: Predator Defense, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Western Wildlife Conservancy, Nevada Wildlife Alliance, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Environmental Protection Information Center, the Wolf Conservation Center, Wilderness Watch, Klamath Forest Alliance, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, Footloose Montana, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Project Coyote, Voices of Wildlife, and the Mountain Lion Foundation.

But we also want to thank, you, our members and supporters. Without your generous contributions, there would be no Western Watersheds Project to fight these battles. So give yourself a pat on the back, because today you have made a wonderful difference in the world we share with our native wildlife.

http://mailchi.mp/fad0343a19b8/wwp-wins-ban-of-cyanide-bombs-in-idaho

Federal Bill to Ban Lethal Wildlife Poisons Introduced after Kids Exposed & Three Dogs Killed by M-44 “Cyanide Bombs”

Source:  Predatordefense.org

14-year-old Canyon from Idaho,
pictured with his best friend Kasey,
a 3-year-old lab. They are laying in
one of their favorite spots, behind
Canyon’s back yard, where he
accidentally triggered an M-44
“cyanide bomb” on March 16, 2017.
It killed his dog in front of him.

March 30, 2017 – This month three dogs were killed by M-44 “cyanide bombs” in Wyoming and Idaho. In both cases children were present and put at grave risk of poisoning. This is beyond unacceptable.

M-44s are indiscriminate sodium cyanide ejectors set by USDA Wildlife Services agents and local wildlife agencies for “predator control.” Details | Diagram There is no justifiable excuse for the use of M-44s. It is insane to set poison traps in the great outdoors.

We’ve been pressuring for an M-44 ban since 1990, collaborating with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oreg.). We are thrilled to announce that on March 30 Rep. DeFazio introduced the legislation we’ve been working on in Congress. The bill is called H.R. 1817, “The Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017.” It would ban both lethal M-44 sodium cyanide devices and Compound 1080, which are used unnecessarily by government wildlife agents for predator control.

What we need now is your help to get this legislation passed into law. This is a nonpartisan, public safety issue, and there honestly are no valid arguments against banning wildlife poisons. Learn how to help

Background on March M-44 events

Early in March 2017 we began working with a family in Wyoming who went out for a beautiful pre-spring walk on the prairie–one they’d taken many times before–and lost two dogs in horrifying circumstances.

We’re also spreading the word about the other devastating event in Idaho, where a 14-year-old boy in Pocatello, Idaho accidentally set off an M-44 behind his back yard and watched helplessly as his dog died an excruciating death. The boy had to be hospitalized and is being closely monitored. He and his family are devastated and outraged. Here’s what our executive director, Brooks Fahy, had to say about this case in The Oregonian:

“[The] Idaho poisoning of a dog and the near poisoning of a child is yet another example of what we’ve been saying for decades: M-44s are really nothing more than land mines waiting to go off, no matter if it’s a child, a dog, or a wolf. It’s time to ban these notoriously dangerous devices on all lands across the United States.”

On March 28, 2017, we joined a coalition of environmental and wildlife groups asking for an immediate ban on M-44s in Idaho and removal of all existing devices in the state.

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