Idaho boy injured, family dog killed by government ‘cyanide bomb’
From Yahoo News By Laura Zuckerman (video at this link)
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) – A “cyanide bomb” planted by U.S. predator-control agents targeting coyotes near homes and hiking trails in Idaho exploded when a boy handled the device, injuring him and killing his dog, authorities and relatives said on Friday.
Canyon Mansfield, 14, was playing with his yellow Labrador retriever, Casey, on Thursday afternoon near his home east of Pocatello when he saw what he thought was a sprinkler head on the ground and touched the device, causing it to detonate.
The explosion sprayed the boy and his 3-year-old, 90-pound (40 kg) pet with toxic cyanide gas, according to the boy’s mother, Theresa Mansfield.
“Canyon said there was a bang like a bomb, then an explosion of an orange substance that covered him and Casey, who was writhing in pain on the ground before he died right in front of Canyon,” she said.
Her husband, Pocatello physician Mark Mansfield, rushed to the scene and pounded on the dog’s chest in a futile effort to revive the animal.
The family and first-responders underwent decontamination procedures and the boy, who was sprayed in the face, was tested for cyanide poisoning at a hospital for the second time Friday, officials and family members said.
The device, called an M-44, was among several placed in the area by Wildlife Services, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that targets coyotes, wolves, cougars, foxes and other animals considered nuisances to farms and ranches.
The agency has been sued by conservation groups claiming that its programs to poison, trap and shoot various predator species violate federal environmental and wildlife protection laws.
Thursday’s incident marked the first “unintentional lethal take of a dog” by an M-44 in Idaho since 2014, and Wildlife Services seeks to minimize hazards to pets and humans by posting warnings, spokesman Andre Bell said.
“These devices are only set at the request of and with permission from property owners or managers,” the agency said. They are “spring-activated” and “not explosive devices,” it said.
Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen, who described the devices as “cyanide bombs,” said no notice was given to authorities about their placement.
“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.
Nielsen said he intended to meet federal officials next week to “get to the bottom of this.”
Theresa Mansfield said Wildlife Services had not sought to contact the family to apologize for the incident.
EastIdahoNews.com shared this update:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, which placed the devices in the area, issued the following statement Friday.
APHIS’ Wildlife Services confirms the unintentional lethal take of a dog in Idaho. As a program made up of individual employees many of whom are pet owners, Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses. 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.
The unintentional lethal take of a dog is a rare occurrence. Wildlife Services policies and procedures are designed to minimize unintentional take or capture of domestic pets. It 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. M-44s are spring-activated devices that release cyanide when they are activated through upward pressure or pulling. These devices are only set at the request of and with permission from property owners or managers. This is the first unintentional take with an M-44 device in Idaho since 2014.
Wildlife Services provides expert federal leadership to responsibly manage one of our nation’s most precious resources – our wildlife. We seek to resolve conflict between people and wildlife in the safest and most humane ways possible, with the least negative consequences to wildlife overall. Our staff is composed of highly-skilled wildlife professionals who are passionate about their work to preserve the health and safety of people and wildlife.
(This is Idaho. Is the UDSA doing this in your state? Are you sure? In this case, the county sheriff didn’t even know!)
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