Just Another “Non-Target Take”
21st of Mar 2017
How a federal program uses our tax dollars to kill pets and wildlife.
“Why can you plant a bomb near a house?” Fourteen year-old Canyon Mansfield asked after he endured watching his young yellow lab Casey die after triggering an M-44 cyanide ejector capsule planted on the hill behind his Pocatello, Idaho home. The bomb was put there by Wildlife Services – a federal government agency. Just a week before, beloved dogs Abby and Molly were killed the same way during a family walk in Wyoming. Both families risked secondary cyanide poisoning trying to save their dogs.
Earlier this month, the well-known male wolf known as OR-48 of Oregon’s Wallowa County Shamrock Pack died after triggering an M-44 meant to target coyotes that might threaten livestock – also set out by Wildlife Services.
Wildlife Services has promised the public it will only use M-44s on private land in Idaho, but according to the Bannock County Sheriff’s office the Mansfield’s dog was killed by an M-44 placed on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Sadly, these stories are nothing new. “Non-target takes” from M-44 cyanide bombs happen every year. In 2016, Wildlife Services reported it accidentally killed 321 animals with M-44s – 29 of which were dogs. It also purposely slaughtered 13,530 animals using M-44s last year, including 12,511 coyotes and 688 foxes (you can review the full 2016 Wildlife Services kill list here).
Why does the government put poison out on public land – places where people go dog walking, hiking, riding, camping, hunting, or biking? It’s just another subsidy the livestock industry enjoys. Public lands grazing accounts for just 3% of the meat produced in the US, yet in 2016 American taxpayers shelled out 99 million dollars to kill 2,744,010 animals.
Environmental groups have been working for decades to get cyanide traps banned on public lands. In 1972, President Nixon signed an Executive Order prohibiting the use of M-44s and another extremely dangerous poison, Compound-1080. But livestock interests got the ban rescinded under Reagan in 1981. Legislation to reinstate the ban was introduced in Congress in 2012, but didn’t pass. Meanwhile, people’s pets and non-target wildlife keep dying.
Because of its controversial mission, Wildlife Services is notoriously secretive. Even the emergency responders who handled last week’s Idaho poisoning had no idea what the M-44 was, who put it there, or why. And for Idaho residents like the Mansfield family, the horrors of M-44 cyanide capsules hits closer to home than they may even realize. The devices are manufactured and shipped nationwide from the Wildlife Services-operated Pocatello Supply Depot – an unassuming building just off the main track in downtown Pocatello.
Advocates for the West is teaming up with Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians to demand that Wildlife Services stop planting deadly poison on our public lands.
Please help fund this pressing legal battle with a gift today. Until this secretive agency’s inhumane killing practices are reformed, our pets and wildlife remain at risk.