Government “Cyanide Bomb” in Idaho Injures 14-Year-Old Boy and Kills His Dog

There is a highly disturbing case out of Idaho where a 14-year-old boy and his ellow Labrador retriever, Casey, were poisoned by a “cyanide bomb” planted by U.S. government.  In a truly baffling act, the Wildlife Services of U.S. Department of Agriculture planted the device to kill coyotes, wolves, cougars, foxes and other animals considered nuisances for farmers and ranchers.  It seems unbelievably reckless to me to place these devices near trails and farms, even with signs that might be missed in the dark or lost to weather conditions.

Canyon Mansfield, 14, was playing with  Casey near their home when he touched what he thought looked like a sprinkler head. The device erupted and sprayed them with toxic cyanide gas.  Casey died at the scene despite efforts by Canyon;’s father, a physician, to save the dog.

The device is a M-44 and the government has been sued of its use.  Various public interest groups argue that the devices violate federal law and put both animals and humans at risk.  That would seem a compelling argument when the government is placing devices that shoot toxic gas into the air when triggered hear trails or farms. I cannot imagine the logic behind this practice, particularly near populated areas.  Indeed, the local sheriff has said that he was not only never informed of the devices but never heard of them.

In prior litigation like San Juan Audubon Soc’y v. Veneman, 153 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2001), the environmental groups alleged that the government’s use of its M-44 sodium cyanide ejectors program violates federal rules set by the EPA and that the government regularly misplace the M-44s, leading to the deaths of California condors and other threatened or endangered animals.

This strikes me as a really reckless program and one worthy of potential liability. In the interim, the entire program warrants congressional scrutiny.

What do you think?

81 thoughts on “Government “Cyanide Bomb” in Idaho Injures 14-Year-Old Boy and Kills His Dog”

  1. Trump and his pirates won’t care about a dead dog and a sickened kid! This device defended some wealthy rancher raising the next load of Trump Steaks.

    1. Look. If you didn’t have a problem with Obama when this was going on under his watch, then how can you suddenly take issue with his successor who has been in office for mere days? You either have to blame Obama for these shenanigans going on for 8 years under him, unchecked, while asking Trump to change it, or you don’t the successor without being a hypocrite.

      Fish and Game puts down any wild deer they find being kept as pets, including fawns, and they routinely have massive coyote hunts where hundreds of coyotes are killed. All of this was under Obama. So if you have a problem with coyote kills, then please include Obama in your ire.

  2. The only reason that this M-44 sodium cyanide ejector program exists at all is because the manufacturers/distributors of the cyanide ejectors have BRIBED officials of the Wildlife Services of U.S. Department of Agriculture. Follow the money and I guarantee you that the person or persons behind the decision to use the cyanide ejectors are on the take–100%. You will also see that the US Government also paid 2 or 3 or more times the cost of those cyanide ejectors if they had purchased them at market prices. After all, SOMEBODY has to PAY for the BRIBES paid to the U.S. Government individuals involved–and the somebody is YOU, tha taxpayers.

    So, we’re not talking about “recklessness,” a “mistake” or any other sort of mroe innocent label you want to put on this story. We’re talking about CRIME, and crime all around.

    Will this crime be investigated? No, it won’t. Although the U.S. Government has many agencies and divisions that are charged with identifying and rooting out waste, fraud, mismangement, corruption, and crime–NONE of them ever do their jobs. Sure, they may do a token “collar” here and there to justify their existences. Sort of like when the U.S. Goverment went after “Fabulous” Fab Tourre, a Goldman Sachs bond trader, with a vengeance during the financial crisis, while all the REAL criminals got away rich as ever, if not more so.

    1. And yet, many people want the government in complete control of their lives, from cradle to grave, believing they will live in ease and comfort in government run utopia. Better Living Through Big Government. They believe that the EPA, Fish and Game, and Wildlife Services, being a government agency dealing with the environment and/or wildlife, would never do anything wrong. No regulation is ever wrong or onerous. Through some sort of cognitive dissonance, they can spend 3 hours at the DMV 7th circle of Hell, and still think that our government can create a Tomorrowland fantasy if it could only grow big enough, powerful enough, and those darned conservatives, Rush Limbaugh, and grass roots small government groups would get out of the way.

  3. And may I just add that, as an asthmatic, I find the presence of toxic gas bombs to be especially abhorrent.

    1. M-44’s are more like a nebulizer. It’s loaded with powder and I believe charged with a shotgun shell. When a wolf or coyote grabs the meat that it’s baited with it triggers and distributes the powder around the animal’s muzzle.

  4. These cyanide traps are similar to leg traps and land mines. They are unthinking, non target specific, and unsafe. Once set, anyone may stumble upon them.

    There are better, safer ways to deal with predators who have become a nuisance. One of the problems is that we humans move in, fence off land, and then create a paradise for rodents after we’ve chased off their natural predators. Then, we resort to poisons to deal with the rodent population explosion. We also deal with traps, shooting, and poison to deal with the predators lured in by the paradise of rodent banquet. Or when we ranch or farm, we lure in predators with helpless calves, lambs, and poultry, an easy feast for wild predators used to working with all they’ve got to bring down wild prey.

    We create these problems, so we’ve got to come up with intelligent solutions.

    I am so very sorry for the injury to this boy, and the loss of his dog. I hope the child does not have any long lasting effects from cyanide poisoning. He’s very lucky to be alive. His parents must be beside themselves.

    We must discontinue use of these traps.

    You can use livestock guardian dogs, such as Anatolian shepherds, to guard livestock. The dogs are a deterrent once the coyotes learn they mean business. They are ubiquitous at alpaca farms, and I’ve family who use them to guard their free range organic poultry. Not a single loss. There was a coyote that went after the crias after my friend’s alpacas gave birth, and her Anatolian tore its throat out. They are very serious guardians, but safe around people. During the day, when their owners are home, anyone in the public can walk right in and look at the livestock. The dogs won’t even bark, and will walk up for a friendly pat. But when the owner is gone, or at night, if anyone or anything tries to hop that fence, they are not going to make it. Other options are to put up coyote rollers along the top fence line of backyards to protect small pets. Build a predator proof pen for poultry. (Ours is velociraptor proof since we live next to a coyote den and there are bobcats nearby. Plus we have cattle dogs. Not a single loss.) Donkeys mixed in with cattle herds will attack wolves and coyotes on sight. It’s instinctive, and in fact you have to put in a some effort to socialize them with dogs because they are natural born enemies. Then there are services which use dogs to harass aggressive cougars or wolves, making them shy around humans in areas where they are not hunted and have grown bold. There are bean bag rounds to make them scared of humans.

    There are many more ways to protect livestock from losses that do not involve either the ranchers ignoring the losses and losing money, or planting cyandide bombs for unsuspecting kids and dogs. Plus the bombs do not specifically target the problem animals, which can be wiley enough to avoid them.

    This is yet another example of government agencies not doing the right thing. Neither the EPA nor the Wildlife Services Division are immune from terrible decisions, which is why their policies may need an overhaul. Just because they are associated with wildlife and the environment does not make them holy or beyond reproach. But the problem is that they have unlimited coffers with which to fight in court, so the average citizen gets no justice when he or she is wronged. This is why we must ensure that government agencies do not gain too much power, and remain answerable for their actions.

  5. We need more facts. My first thought about bringing suit is the sovereign immunity issue. With the right fact pattern there may be a way to overcome that defense.

  6. You all forget where this incident occurred, Idaho. A place where the state government feels it more important to protect those that abuse cows than those that report such abuse.

    I am visiting just a few miles from where this incident occurred. It sickened me when I read it in the paper yesterday. This is not the first such incident where a person and/or pet was injured/killed. If you oppose this fine usage of your tax dollars, tell your congressman/senator. If you live anywhere in any state, you should contact them if you want it to change.

    1. Paul – while you are there, get a map that shows all the federal and state land in Idaho. Then you will see what part of the problem is.

    1. But the Spring-gun is a governmental agency, I hear that good ole immunity racking up.

  7. If you or I put out a booby trap for whatever “legitimate” purpose and somebody got hurt, we would pay dearly.

    But these folks will claim governmental immunity to avoid personal responsibility and pay of the kid with taxpayer money.

    Same as when the government polluted the Animas River out here.

    First they promised to fix things/pay for damages.

    Then they reneged and claimed governmental immunity.

    Behavior that would have bankrupted a commercial enterprise and put its CEO in jail (and has many times – see West Virginia) got a complete pass.

    Once again, the protected live under a much gentler justice system than do you or I.

  8. I don’t care what administration put them in or what signage is in place, the government should not have policies and procedures in place that threaten our lives, liberty or property. That would be the exact opposite of their constitutional purpose. I’ve never heard of these M-44’s before so I’m assuming incidents like these are fairly rare. We have a lot of coyotes in our small town in northern San Diego county and pets are lost to them nearly every night. I’m now curious to know if they are used in our area.

    And for all of you “and the Trump administration is going to” crowd, spare us your warnings unless you are sitting in his policy meetings. Your predictions ring hollow, especially in light of the fact you dismissed our concerns about what the Obama administration “is doing”.

    1. Olly

      M-44 like devices have probably been around at least 40 years. My dad said they would load them up with black pepper around the ranch so the dogs would learn to stay away.

      For those of you all aghast at humans for indiscriminate killing, my dad also told me about coyotes who would kill lambs just to lick the milk out of their stomachs.

  9. Wildlife Services kills hundreds of thousands (it may be millions) of animals every year mostly to benefit hunters, ranchers and farmers. Wildlife Services has long been basically a goverment welfare program for the private interests that benefit from the KILLING of wildlife.

    I have previously contacted my US Representatives on the subject. But big money agricultural and hunters seem to mostly dictate their heinous policies. Sadly even the unintended death of a dog will likely not affect longstanding policy……after all, police shooting pets for little reason continues unabated and without consequence.

    btw – doubt dumb donald will change policies in place that assist wealthier conservative interests….even with more limited budgets

    1. Bill has a very good point here in first sentence and paragraph. The Wildlife agencies are just created to help dorks go out and shoot a deer, cut his head off and hang it on the wall. The carcass often gets left on the ground for vultures. A lot of this is inspired by male ego trippers who can not get a roll in the hay for several reasons or another and they go out and kill things to prove their “manhood”. Same sort of dorks who gun their engines at the intersection to show off. Males without real tails.

      1. Not a shrink, but a Freudian could probably discern a lot from your posting.

      2. I don’t believe that is true. All the hunters I have known and members of my family hunt for the solitude and to provide for the family table. People who hunt for trophies are evil. It is a waste of life albeit an animal.

      3. Jack – I do not know of anyone who would shoot a deer and let the meat rot. From your comment I assume you do not know any subsistence hunters. I have family and friends who fill their freezers with meat for the year hunting. Although the price of permits can be expensive, they can still save a lot of money on grocery bills, plus it’s as independent as gardening. As long as the game is not exposed to any chemicals somehow, it’s the most organic meat possible raised in the most healthy lifestyle, rather than the concentrated, filthy, factory farmed meat you get at the market, which ended in the horrors of the slaughterhouse. I do not hunt myself. I’m a hypocrite who either buys game from others or buys grass fed for exorbitant prices through a CSA. But I support hunting as being more humane and healthy, when properly done.

        I suppose there must be someone, somewhere, who kills deer just for fun. But it’s not usual among the hunting community.

        1. Karen – there are boutique butchers who only operate during hunting season. Where I grew up venison was a staple for the winter and spring.

      4. Jack Ruby – vultures need something to feed on, it the circle of life. You are over-thinking the Wildlife Service.

      5. You are an ignorant fool. Thankfully you limit your hunting forays to underground parking garages.

        And like lawyers, vultures gotta eat too, provided they aren’t killed by windmills.

    2. Anyone who’s ever worked in an agency focused on animal management knows that those agencies are saturated with the lust to kill. Eyes light up whenever a new program is announced that allows them to engage in more animal killing. The slightest reason to kill is like telling a kid they are going to Disneyland. For those who lust to kill, their favorite words are, “it needs to be done”, which seems to effectively offset the cultural knowledge that causing suffering is always wrong.

      1. I gather they fired you for absenteeism or incompetence.

    3. Bill

      Why shouldn’t Wildlife Services benefit hunters, ranchers and farmers? All three benefit wildlife.

  10. Wow, it’s always been procedure when a farmer/rancher has problem with wildlife they were allowed to take care of it, by shooting it. I suppose with factory farms and giant ranches,
    Money talks and government lackeys listen. It’s a dangerous shame though.
    But I suppose if the government really cared about danger we would not have nuclear power heating water to make electricity.

  11. Trump’s cutting of govt funding maybe not so bad after all.

    Unfortunately, some say defense can’t be cut because US military power “encourages” foreign govts to buy massive amounts of treasuries to fund debt and props up the dollar as reserve currency. Also the CIA-Dem coup attempt was a warning shot against any anti-interventionist impulses Trump may have had. Funny how little is mentioned about how Obama-Hillary adventurism in Libya and Syria caused about 750,000 deaths in Libya and Syria and millions of refugees and migrants.

    1. Funny how little is mentioned about how Obama-Hillary adventurism in Libya and Syria caused about 750,000 deaths in Libya and Syria and millions of refugees and migrants.

      It’s not mentioned by anyone it incorporates a notion of causality which is fit only for addle-pated mental patients.

  12. Assuming it was planted by the US Govt and assuming it was on federal land, it also required hazard signage. No signage, sue them for their mother’s back teeth.

    1. Paul Schulte,….
      Another article I read described the area the device was in as “a patchwork of private and public land” near this family’s home.
      That same article said the device went off on a ridge, behind the family’s home.
      I haven’t found any details about distances from the house, posting of hazard signs, barriers,etc.
      Unless this family actually requested this device on our near their land, it looks like Wildlife Services has a lot of explaining to do.

  13. Sue the perps. See if they violated an Idaho state law.

    Ban the damned devices.

    1. Sue them in State court if you get a better jury. Sue them in Fed Ct if you might get a better jury there. In Fed Ct have one Claim or more under the Fed Civil Rights violation act and one Claim under state law. Sue for damages but also sue for declaratory judgment and injunction. Sue all the perps right down the line.

      1. Jack Ruby – what Wildlife Services is doing is right. Where they are doing it seems to be wrong. There isn’t a lot of money in this suit. Minimal for the dog (chattel) and little for the boy, because the father was there to save him. Had the boy died, this would make a great suit. Although, some of these attorneys can take nothing and make it into a molehill.

        1. On voir dire (jury selection) I would ask each member of the jury panel if they ever owned a dog. Then, can they be fair to someone who is charged with killing a dog. Maybe one will disqualify himself by saying he can not be fair to a dog killer. I would say: I am not asking you to vote to kill the dog killer but to make him pay. And make him pay big so he won’t do it again and his co-horts won’t do it again. The value of the dog is a lot more than what the dog cost as a pup at the pound. Juror number 3: How much would you value your dog?

          The other side will probably settle for a large sum after jury selection and you break for lunch and have a settlement discussion. The judge will probably encourage the dolts to pay up.

          The dog is probably worth twenty grand to the kid. The kid is the plaintiff by the way. Not the parents.

          1. Oh, I forgot to mention the request for punitive damages. That is where you punish them.

            1. Jack Ruby – they are going to claim they are the government and claim sovereign immunity. Even if you get past it, it will cost you more than the dog and the punitive damages.

          2. Jack Ruby – the kid is too young to sue, so his parents will have to sue on his behalf. The dog might be worth 1K, maybe 2. Remember you only get the market value of the animal. So, depending on the breed will depend the price. If he got a mutt from the pound (good for him) he is only going to get $100.

            My heart is with you Jack, I am owned by a dog, however, the law is against us.

      2. You must be dreaming. LEO’s throw flash bangs into baby cribs and face nothing but civil payouts. Probably falls under qualified immunity.

        1. pinandpuller – the cops didn’t throw that flash bang into the crib on purpose. You know that. It was always a civil case.

          1. Paul Shulte

            The wildlife officer didn’t mean for a kid and dog to wander into the M-44 zone either.

  14. The EPA rules and regulations are going to be dismantled anyways. Alls Mr Trump in the OoP has to do is, write an executive order permitting this type of device and that should take care of any state or federal lawsuit. Furthermore they intend to limit the amount of recovery as well, there are bills in both the senate and house. Why should the government have to pay damages for a civilian, they certainly do not pay for the injured veterans. What makes a rural citizen any more valuable.

  15. So, what happened to all the “save the wildlife” campaigns? If you have animals that pose a danger, allow responsible hunting. Choose something with a brain over something that is automated, and can be set wrong, any day.

  16. In the military we had four types of minefields. from hasty to the full blown everything down and surveyed in variety. A big part besides the surveying was signage. Comes under the Laws of Land Warfare. Given the information expecially for a device that comes under WMD or Weapon of Mass destruction and given the target the signage in and around the area would have been more evident than Chicken Man. Absent any other information excluding a Nuremberg Defense whomsoever did that andoh yes by the way failed to patrol and guard it. would be busting rocks into pea gravel

    So now you are saying a freaking civilian can use these things? i take it this was from the last administration.

    What was their escalation path. Chemical to Biological to Nuclear?

    1. More like the mentality of the DDT administration. The similarity of mindlessness is an airtight argument. Stupidity in the White House is encouraging stupidity throughout the land. The rocks are turned over and the scum is slithering out.

      1. This would have been under the LIAR Obama’s Administration. You Dems don’t ever except responsibility for anything but this dog’s death is on YOU!

        1. Dems not accepting responsibility, excuse me, which leader just has to say I am sorry to the House and Senate Intel committees to stop the useless waste of taxpayer dollars. On the other side, America the Country is safe so long as Congress is putting out Trump fires.

          America is a Country, it’s not Trumps Personal Company.

      2. Trump is doing everything he was elected to do. Hillary is getting $1,200 haircuts and telling people she has decided to “come out of the woods.” Please don’t tell us about stupidity, Isaac.

        1. Bob – is Hillary blowing the last of the Clinton Foundation money before she either goes to jail and/or has to get a real job?

  17. Extremely reckless. There has to be less hazardous methods to deal with the wildlife in the area.

  18. The individuals who set the device out there are liable for assault and battery on the child and dog killing. They can be prosecuted. If they have some defense then let them raise it. When they prove that the bosses told them to do this then the criminal liability goes that way too.
    Then there is a federal civil suit against the perps as individuals acting under color of law.
    Damages, attorney fees and injunctive relief. No more. If the perps state that their device did not pose a danger then subject them to some cyanide at their deposition.

    1. I don’t know if the device was placed on private property or federal land ( a big portion of Idaho).
      Either way, the device can’t distinguish between harmful predators it’s supposed to target, and a boy, or a dog, etc.
      Seems like a foolish risk.
      Wildlife Services issued a statement that the devices are only placed at the request of, and with permission from, property owners or managers. ( Reuters)
      The same article mentions the sheriff’s statement that in his 39 years with thr Sheriff’s Dept., he’d never heard of these devices.
      At best, even IF the statement from Wildlife Services is correct, and if the device was clearly marked as hazardous, it may only partially shield Wildlife Services from litigation
      I hope the boy, his father, and other first responders suffered no lasting damage.

      1. The family contends it was placed proximate to the property line, and their complaint is that no one warned them. The photographs illustrating these stories have a picture of one which looks rusted, as if it had been installed quite some time ago (whether it’s the actual device or another like was not specified). I’d wager the youngster kicked it.

      1. I am sorry, are you still stuck in blame mode? A sore winner I imagine. The realities are Trump asked for and received every cabinet members resignation. Not Obamas fault if you or your people have no direction.

      2. This is almost certainly the sort of idiocy that is ordered by a low to mid-level civil servant without the knowledge of his political masters. Remember how big the US government is. No president, no cabinet even, can keep track of everything. As lauraoslin says, this has been going on at least since the Bush administration, but I wouldn’t blame Bush either.

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