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.

20 Environmental Groups Jointly Demand Wildlife Services Ban M-44 Cyanide Bombs in Idaho

 

Since 2000, Wildlife Services has killed more than 50,000 members of more than 150 non-target species, including federally and/or state-protected animals such as Mexican gray wolves, grizzly bears, kangaroo rats, eagles, falcons, California condors, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, armadillos, pronghorns, porcupines, long-tailed weasels, javelinas, marmots, snapping turtles, turkey vultures, great blue herons, ruddy ducks, sandhill cranes and ringtail cats.

On March 28, 2017, a coalition of wildlife and conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to immediately ban M-44 devices in Idaho. M-44s are cyanide bombs used by WS to kill local predators such as coyotes, as part of a larger taxpayer-funded wildlife eradication campaign wherein WS, on behalf of the federal government, slaughters millions of wild animals every single year.

The recent hospitalization of a youth and killing of a family dog in Idaho who encountered one of these ground weapons near their home was one motivator for the creation of this petition. The document lists many other incidents of indiscriminate pet injuries and killings by M-44s in Appendix A.

The petition specifically calls on the agencies to:

1. Cease all use of M-44 explosive cyanide devices on all land ownerships in the State of Idaho, and
2. Immediately remove any and all M-44s currently deployed on all land ownerships in Idaho.

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

In November 2016, WS committed to cease the use of M-44s on Idaho’s public lands. Also, in 2016, a workplan between WS and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Idaho Falls District forbade the placement of these devices within a quarter mile of residences.

The recent incident with the teen and his pet occurred within a quarter mile of his home. The petition concludes this incident shows the “commitment to cease using M-44s on public lands in Idaho is inadequate to protect public safety and wildlife,” because either WS personnel are not carrying out the commitment or older bombs are still present on public land.

“Cyanide bombs are indiscriminate killers that must be banned,” Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a press release. “Any animal that might pull on the baited trigger is at risk, including endangered wildlife like Canada lynx and grizzlies, as well as people and pets. And in just the past few weeks these cruel devices have injured a child and killed an endangered wolf and several family dogs. Enough is enough.”

The petition explains:

Since 2000, Wildlife Services has killed more than 50,000 members of more than 150 non-target species, including federally and/or state-protected animals such as Mexican gray wolves, grizzly bears, kangaroo rats, eagles, falcons, California condors, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, armadillos, pronghorns, porcupines, long-tailed weasels, javelinas, marmots, snapping turtles, turkey vultures, great blue herons, ruddy ducks, sandhill cranes and ringtail cats.

The petition also discusses how the cyanide bombs and other non-selective killing methods are actually unproductive because they disrupt ecosystem balances, can actually increase livestock losses and have not been shown to be economically effective.

Bethany Cotton, Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, previously asserted to EnviroNews that “many ranchers peacefully coexist with coyotes and report no conflicts,” and that nonlethal predator response options include solar powered electric fencing and livestock dogs, amongst others.

“Ranchers can use less vulnerable types of livestock, hang flagging called ‘fladry,’ or actually put cowboys out there with their animals to discourage predator losses without resorting to demands for poisons and poisonous land mines that kill pets and non-target wildlife,” Erik Molvar, Executive Director of the Western Watersheds Project, told EnviroNews. He signed the petition on behalf of the coalition of environmental groups. “It is senseless and irresponsible for federal agencies to use taxpayer dollars to sow land mines and poisons in open country to kill native wildlife to prop up failing ranching operations,” he stated.

Federal law requires the petitioned agencies to provide a final decision in writing to the petitioners: Western Watersheds Project, 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…(CONTINUED)

http://www.environews.tv/033017-20-environmental-groups-jointly-demand-wildlife-services-ban-m-44-cyanide-bombs-idaho/

 

Bighorns Killed after Contacting Domestic Sheep

Excerpt from The Post Register

“Domestic sheep and goats often carry pathogens that wild sheep may be susceptible to…”

Two bighorn sheep rams that were in immediate proximity to domestic sheep near Challis were euthanized Thursday to prevent the sheep from potentially carrying disease back to the wild herd. One ram was 5 years old and the other was 6 years old. Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials killed two bighorn rams after attempts to dart and radio collar the animals failed Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

The bighorn sheep were removed from a hillside adjacent to a small flock of domestic sheep on the outskirts of Challis, a Fish and Game news release said.

Samples were taken immediately after the sheep were killed, and the samples and carcasses were transported to a wildlife health lab for analysis.

Because bighorn sheep are susceptible to diseases that can be carried by domestic sheep and goats, the Department’s 2010 Bighorn Sheep Management Plan provides direction that Fish and Game remove bighorns in a timely manner when they come in contact with domestic herds to prevent potential transmission of disease to other bighorn sheep, the release said.

Domestic sheep and goats often carry pathogens that wild sheep may be susceptible to and that can result in fatal pneumonia or other diseases, the release said. The greatest risk occurs when a wild sheep mixes with domestic sheep or goats and then returns to a wild herd, potentially spreading the pathogens. In some cases, this can result in large-scale die-offs in wild sheep.

The bighorn rams were killed to prevent risk of them returning to their herds and potentially infecting other bighorns, the release said. The domestic sheep are also being tested…(CONTINUED)

http://www.postregister.com/articles/news-todays-headlines-west/2017/03/30/bighorns-killed-after-contacting-domestic-sheep#

Idaho Helicopter Ruling a Victory for Wilderness, Wildlife

as published on The Idaho Statesman

“BLM; Take Note!” ~ R.T.


“It is intolerable that agencies entrusted with enforcing our laws are themselves wantonly violating them…”

collared-wolfConservation groups cheered when a federal judge ruled last month that the Forest Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game violated federal law by landing helicopters in an Idaho wilderness area to attach tracking collars to elk and wolves. The court also ordered the data gathered through these illegal activities destroyed. The now-halted project gives every appearance of an unscientific witch hunt, tailor-made to scapegoat wolf predation as the cause of elk population declines and to justify a wolf-killing program in wilderness.

During the 1980s, a controversy raged in Alaska over whether wolves caused the decline of the Nelchina caribou herd. Vic Van Ballenberghe, a Forest Service scientist, re-examined the issue and discovered that harsh winters started the Nelchina herd on a downward trajectory. Failing to recognize the decline, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game made it worse with overharvest. Ultimately, the scientific community concluded that weather and hunting — not wolves — caused the caribou herd’s decline. Now history is repeating itself in Idaho.

Wilderness was always intended to be wild and free from human control. Here, according to the lyrical requirements of the law itself, wilderness is directed by law to encompass land “retaining its primeval character and influence,” “affected primarily by the forces of nature,” which is “untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Turning a wilderness into a heliport with helicopter landings, fitting out elk and wolves with thick leather necklaces, and ultimately waging an air war against wolves, are unnatural in every respect and completely incompatible with wilderness values…(CONTINUED)

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article134378629.html#storylink=cpy

Erik Molvar is a wildlife biologist published in the science of ungulate behavior and population dynamics, and is the executive director of Western Watersheds Project, a nonprofit environmental group.

Pregnant Wild Horse in Idaho Stabbed to Death Ahead of Adoption

Source: Multiple

Dee had been adopted and was only hours away from going to her new home when she was killed.

AMERICAN FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – A local ranch owner is looking for some answers after finding one of her mustangs stabbed to death.

Click Image to View Video

Click Image to View Video

It happened Sunday morning on Fish Hatchery Road in American Falls.

“A Little Piece of Heaven” ranch in American Falls said around 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, one of their mustangs was stabbed to death.

“Around 2:30 the dogs were going crazy and we just thought it was coyotes and we came out and one of the mustangs was out here, Dee, laying in the field,” said Erin McGuire, whose mother Kimberly Clark, owns the ranch.

Dee was about 5 or 6 years old and was pregnant. She was due to have her baby in about a month. When Dee was found, she had bled to death from what appeared to be two different stab wounds.

Dee was first stabbed near the fenceline that runs along a public access road. Dee then ran to the middle of the field where she ended up with a second stab wound, this time in the head.

“A Little Piece of Heaven” ranch is a temporary home for rescued horses. It works with the group “Miracle Mustangs” who saves dying horses and those would otherwise be sent to slaughter. The ranch is one place horses are sent to and cared for until they can be adopted to permanent homes.

Dee had been adopted and was only hours away from going to her new home when she was killed.

The ranch said she was a great horse and they already miss her a lot.

“She was a sweetheart,” McGuire said. “She made us all laugh. She was like a dog, she was one of the sweetest mustangs we’ve had here so far. She would go up to the irrigation pipes and bite at the water like a dog.”

The ranch reported the incident to the Power County Sheriff’s Office, who is currently investigating it.

Clark wants to encourage anyone who may know something to call the sheriff’s office and let them know.

A Go Fund Me account has been set up to raise money for a reward to catch whoever is responsible.

Around 5 p.m. Monday afternoon, a veterinarian and police took another look at the horse. They said Dee’s nasal cavity was completely shattered. They believe that injury occurred first, and then wound in her side occurred second.

The vet said it’s possible the wound in Dee’s side could have come from a branch as she ran, but it could also still be a stab wound. He said the nose wound is unexplainable, and believes someone did it. Clark said police aren’t ruling anything out at this point and they told her they won’t have conclusive results for about a month.

If you have any information you think could help with the investigation, call the Power County Sheriff’s Office at 208-226-2311.

http://www.localnews8.com/news/Mustang-stabbed-to-death-in-American-Falls/41319972

BLM News: Public Tour of Bruneau Off-Range Corrals May 13

Unedited BLM Press Release

BLM News

DATE: April 25, 2016
 
CONTACT: Heather Tiel-Nelson, 208-736-2352
 
Public Tour of Bruneau Off-Range Corrals May 13
 
The Bruneau Off-Range Corrals are located at 28536 Jacks Creek Road, and are privately owned and operated. About a 75-minute drive southeast of Boise, the facility provides care for up to 3,500 wild horses or burros. The facility encompasses 80 acres containing 39 large holding pens, each pen measuring 70,000 square feet that will safely hold approximately 100 horses. The horses receive an abundance of feed tailored to their needs each day, along with a constant supply of fresh water through automatic watering troughs. Free choice mineral block supplements are also provided to the animals in each pen. A veterinarian routinely inspects the horses and provides necessary medical care as needed. BLM strives to place horses removed from the range into good, private homes.  
PUBLIC TOUR
BLM will offer a public tour of the Bruneau Off-Range Corrals on Friday, May 13. Two public tours will be offered — the first will begin at 10 a.m. and the second will begin at 1 p.m. Each tour will last about two hours and will accommodate up to 20 people. Spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The public can sign up to attend and receive driving directions to the facility by calling BLM at (208) 845-2001.
What to Know Before You Go On a Public Tour
•         Tours start promptly at the scheduled time, so be at the facility a few minutes early or the wagon may leave and we cannot come back to pick you up
•         Bring comfortable shoes and clothes. Hats and sunscreen recommended 
•         Bring your own water
•         Cameras and video cameras welcome
•         Visitors will not be able to walk around the facility unaccompanied. They must travel with the group in the wagon at all times
Can I sign up for a tour right now?
 
Please RSVP for one of the two tours by May 10, 2016. You may RSVP by calling BLM at (208) 845-2001.

Where have all the horses gone? And Why?

A more detailed article on Palomino Valley from Terri Farley’s BLOG

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All images taken at National Wild Horse and Burro Center, Palomino Valley, Nevada, December 30, 2015.

by Terri Farley

I  live about 40 minutes from the Palomino Valley corrals. Since it’s open to the public, I often drive out to check on the horses and talk with John Neill, operations manager for the facility.

When I drove up yesterday, many corrals were empty. Palomino Valley corrals can hold 1850 equines and BLM round-ups usually keep it well-stocked with captive wild horses and burros.

The only times I’d seen the corrals so ghost-town quiet was when mustangs had been cleared out to make room for an influx of newly “gathered” horses. I assumed this had happened again, to make room for the survivors of Oregon’s Beaty Butte round-up.

When I checked in at BLM headquarters. Jeremy Wilhelm, wrangler, sat at the front desk. He said John Neill wouldn’t be in the office until the end of January.

When I mentioned that the corrals outside were pretty empty, Wilhelm agreed. He said a bunch of mares had gone to a Bruno, Idaho sanctuary.

How many?
He didn’t know.

Why? He couldn’t say

When? He shrugged.

Wilhelm recalled that more horses had been moved to Carson City, Elm Creek and Paul’s Valley.

How many? Why? When? He said he didn’t know and joked, “I guess I’m the village idiot.”

I insisted there must be a reason for all the missing horses and he told me, again in a joking tone, “Maybe they’re shutting us down.”

I asked if space was being made for incoming survivors of the Beaty Butte round-up?

Nope, they were already in corrals 1,2, 3 with a few in 4.

He said there were 1400 horses onsite. Later, after I’d walked the corrals, he revised that to 1200.

Could I have missed seeing some horses? Yes. I didn’t do a head count and some were banging around in the enclosed processing chute, apparently getting booster vaccines. Laying on my belly, I saw hooves, but not enough to account for hundreds of horses.

Back at my laptop, I emailed Jason Lutterman, BLM Public Affairs Specialist, asking if he could clarify the fuzzy 12-1400 number of horses, and find out why, when and how many wild horses had been shipped to Idaho, Paul’s Valley, Elk Creek and Carson City.
Lutterman responded immediately. The official count said 1,134 horses were at Palomino Valley on December 22, and he’d get answers to the rest of my questions as soon as he could.

Now, as I wait, I want to believe Wilhelm’s joke that the facility is being shut down. I want to think BLM has realized they don’t have a wild horse problem, but a people problem. That’s what I want, but experience tells me to stop dreaming.

I mean, really, what are the odds a blindfold’s been snatched from the Bureau’s eyes to reveal that it’s greed, not mustangs, drawing us ever closer to the death of the West?

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BLM to Sterilize Idaho’s Saylor Creek Wild Horses

wild_horses.Par.1257.Image.450.232.1

Saylor Creek wild horses (photo: BLM)

Drastic Plan threatens future of all wild horse herds in the West

The Cloud Foundation issued a Press Release warning that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), long criticized for its inhumane helicopter roundups, massive, indiscriminant removals, and warehousing of America’s wild horses and burros, announced their intent to sterilize the Saylor Creek wild horse herd in Idaho.  The BLM’s Jarbridge Resource Management Plan would “treat all wild horses surgically or chemically to eliminate reproduction capability.”

 “This chilling decision, if allowed to stand, will set a deadly precedent for all our wild horse and burro herds in the West,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF).  “Sterilizing a herd is the opposite of the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act (WFRHBA) and the BLM’s long repeated mantra, ‘Healthy herds on healthy rangelands.’  How can a sterilized wildlife population be considered healthy?”

The Cloud Foundation argues that the plan violates both the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the WFRHBA:

  • Violates NEPA because it fails to analyze an alternative that restores access to the Snake River as a water source for wild horses
  • Violates NEPA because it fails to adequately analyze the impacts of managing a non-reproducing herd in the Saylor Creek Herd Management Area (HMA)
  • Does not analyze the impacts to: the “wild” and “free roaming” nature of wild horses and other behavioral dynamics; the physical health of mares; genetic diversity; and rangeland health.
  • Violates the WFRHBA by proposing to manage a non-reproducing herd in the Saylor Creek HMA.

“The BLM has run rough-shod over the wild horse and burros for over 40 years, zeroing out almost half the herds that were identified for protection in the WFRHBA,” adds Paula Todd King, Communications Director for TCF.  “Now they want to turn the Saylor Creek Herd area into a ‘sanctuary,’ more accurately described as a dumping ground for other sterilized mustangs in holding.”

In 1971, 339 herds were identified for protection after the passage of the WFRHB Act.  Only 179 herds remain.  The vast majority of the remaining herds are managed at non-viable levels of under 150-200 adult animals.  83% of forage in the 179 wild horse and burro herd areas is allocated to privately-owned livestock that cost taxpayers over $120 million a year for administration of a flawed and range damaging program.

“This is just the beginning of the end for wild horse families in the wild if we don’t say ‘no’ as loudly and collectively as we can,” concludes Kathrens.

Links:

The Cloud Foundation: Say No to Sterilizatio

Record of Decision, Jarbridge Resource Management Plan

Feds Plan Wild Horse Sanctuary in Southwestern Idaho

Say GOODBYE to our Saylor Creek Wild Horses in Idaho

wild_horses.Par.1257.Image.450.232.1

by Grandma Gregg

9/15/15: The BLM Published a Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan for Jarbidge Field Office, which includes managing the Saylor Creek Wild Horses as a NON-REPRODUCING Herd … FOREVER

http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/prog/nepa_REGISTER/jarbidge-rmp-revision.html

Excerpts from their decision:
“Manage a non-reproducing herd with an appropriate management level range of 50 to 200 wild horses in the Saylor Creek Wild Horse Management Area.”

“In the Wild Horses section, two management actions … were not carried forward into the Approved RMP because they pertained to restrictions during foaling. Since the wild horse herd in the Approved RMP will be non-reproducing, there will be no foaling period.”
“In the Livestock Grazing section, allocation LG-A-1 was modified to say “The majority of the planning area will be available for livestock grazing (1,411,000 acres).”

Location: The Saylor Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) is located approximately 15 miles south of Glenns Ferry, ID in Owyhee County, ID and Elmore County, ID within the Jarbidge Field Office. The Saylor Creek HMA encompasses 94,992 acres of public land in the Jarbidge Field Office.
wild_horses.Par.15440.Image.350.263.1

The Saylor Creek Herd in motion.

BLM completes Soda Fire wild horse gather

SOURCE:  ktvb.com

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Just over two weeks ago, the Soda Fire sparked and quickly grew to more than 283,000 acres. The massive wildfire devastated habitat for a number of wildlife species throughout Owyhee County, and it tore through three Wild Horse Herd Management Areas.(Photo: Paul Boehlke / KTVB)

OWYHEE COUNTY — The Bureau of Land Management says it has completed its gathering of wild horses, after the area the animals were located in was left devastated by the 280,000-acre Soda Fire.

BLM crews were able to gather a total of 279 horses: 173 from the Hardtrigger Herd Management Area, 78 from the Black Mountain HMA and 28 from the Sands Basin HMA.

The BLM says a group of horses were returned to the Black Mountain HMA, including four mares that were treated with a fertility control vaccine.

In addition, a veterinarian treated many of the horses from the Hardtrigger HMA for burn injuries.

BLM experts are still working to determine which horses will return to the range and which ones will be available for adoption in the fall. There are other options as well, including Trainer Incentive and Extreme Mustang Makeover programs. Some of the horses may also be traveling to the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center.

The horses that go into the adoption program still have to undergo further care, including an update on vaccinations and de-worming. The process may take several weeks and the BLM says once the work is complete, there will be more opportunities to visit the horses at the Corrals.

Meanwhile, the BLM says it will implement emergency stabilization and rehabilitation activities on the fire-impacted lands in the coming months and years.