After a young teenager and his dog were sprayed with a deadly gas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it had temporarily stopped the use of “cyanide bombs” in Idaho.
Canyon Mansfield, 14, was walking with his dog behind his Pocatello home in Idaho when he noticed a curious device sticking out of the ground. As all kids are, Canyon curiously nudged it and the spring-loaded device sprayed an “orange gas everywhere,” he told East Idaho News.
The device was an M-44 predator control trap that, when activated, releases a burst of poisonous cyanide gas – hence the nickname “cyanide bomb.” They’re intended to kill coyotes, however, this time, it wasn’t a coyote that set off the “bomb.”
Tragically, the dog was killed after appearing to suffer from a seizure immediately after being sprayed by the toxic gas. The 14-year-old was sprayed in the face and all over his body. He instantly dropped to the ground and began rolling in snow to get the gas off him – smart kid!
Canyon had to be transported to a nearby hospital, but was not seriously harmed.
“That little boy is lucky,” Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said, according to the Idaho State Journal. “His guardian angel was protecting him.”
Following the incident, 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:
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.