Update: Gov’t agency issues statement after family dog killed by ‘cyanide bomb’


70  Updated at 12:30 pm, March 17th, 2017 By: EastIdahoNews.com staff
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A cyanide bomb | Courtesy Bannock County Sheriff’s Office


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.


POCATELLO — The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an incident where a predator control device — commonly referred to as a “cyanide bomb or cyanide trap” — detonated killing a family dog and injuring a child.

The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office received a call Thursday from a local father indicating an unknown device had detonated in close proximity to his son and the family’s dog, according to a news release. The incident occurred on a ridge line located above a residence on Buckskin Road in Pocatello.

The father said the family dog had been killed and his son had been covered in an unknown substance as the device detonated. The sheriff’s office indicated the child was not seriously injured by the chemical.

Hazmat crews and fire department personnel responded to the incident. Investigators were still at the scene as of 8 p.m. Thursday, according to the Idaho State Journal. The deceased dog, a 3-year-old lab named Casey, also was found covered with cyanide.

Deputies later determined the device was placed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for animal control, specifically for predators such as coyotes. The device, officially named an M-44, releases a burst of cyanide when activated.

Deputies say this device is extremely dangerous to animals and humans. If a device such as this is ever located, local law enforcement officials say not to touch or go near the device and to contact local law enforcement immediately.

The family involved in this incident were evaluated at a local hospital and were released, according to the news release.

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  • thisIsKristopher

    Sounds like a lawsuit to me.

    • USMCM14

      Never happen they set thousands of these M-44 across the entire U.S. every year and incidental killing of pets are extremely rare !!

      • Brenda Noone

        Rare????? Are you kidding me???? IT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN!!! There is no way these things should be legal anywhere! It coyotes are a problem they should deal with them the same way we do….shoot them when they are around our calves! Otherwise we leave them alone as they are part of the habitat.

        • Brian R Gard

          Touche! These devices must be removed, destroyed, and never ever again be applied within the Borders of these United States of America.

      • Rlwy

        Yes, “extremely rare…” the last one let to light in Idaho was just a couple years ago. Dead pets, and dead people don’t talk USMCM14.

  • Rlwy

    The equivalent would be poison salt licks for public grazers… indiscriminate, unethical, and wrong you say? I agree. One targets native/naturally occurring animals in their God given place/habitat, the theoretical other would target domesticated/unnaturally occurring private business running amok, and degrading biologically necessary ecosystems on public lands.

  • stumptowngreen

    If Trump is looking for agencies to eliminate, look no further than USDA Wildlife Services. Of course, the “rugged individualist” ranchers in the western states would oppose that because they are direct beneficiaries of that government funding.

    • USMCM14

      You are a special kind of stupid !!!

      • Rlwy

        A special kind of stupid is the person who minimizes the fact that 10 pounds and the direction of wind is all that decided the fate of the boy vs. his dog.

      • Jackson

        You are dumber than stupid.

  • Jeff Howell

    Who in the heck would even think, ‘Hey! Lets just put some cyanide bombs out in farmers fields and/or the wilderness to manage the wildlife’ and think that its a good idea? How did this even become legal? I am no tree hugger but man has got to stop trying to manipulate nature for his own needs.

    • Haight

      They’ve been doing it at least 60 years. A lot of “unintended” wildlife killed by them. I would have assumed by now they would have been deemed a safety hazzard.

  • Tony Pisano

    “This is the first unintentional take with an M-44 device in Idaho since 2014.” Shouldn’t it read; “This is the second lethal accident in three (or two?) years.” If you want a good read written by one of these government trappers, pick up a copy of Wolfer by Carter Neimeyer. So-called Wildlife Services should have disappeared thirty years ago.

  • Mark

    I’m confused. Cyanide bombs are randomly placed where they might kill anything that approaches the device? For the love of god, what kind of wildlife management is that? People need to be fired.

    • issyco

      No, the whole Wildlife Services has to be eliminated. WE are paying for them to murder millions of birds and animals every year!!! All because the farmers and ranchers deem them to be a problem! Inhumane and disgusting behavior that MUST be stopped!!!

      • Amy Lynn Campbell

        True. Ranchers were able to feed and maintain people for millennia before cyanide bombs and wildlife services. Just because technology has made it easier for people to forget their roots and also how to manage wildlife and pests in a natural way doesn’t mean it’s the right method. Just like people say organic farmers can’t produce enough to feed lots of people. Hogwash. I know plenty of organic farms around my town that have amazing yields and everything tastes better. We don’t need more technology, we need more responsible farmers.

        • Bill Reese

          This is just funny. I lived on a farm for years. There were no “natural” ways to control pests. We used to eat food wrecked by bugs – just cut out the buggie part. That’s what we used to do in “the old days”. Much of the “organic” food is tossed because you wouldn’t buy it in a supermarket because of the bugs, the boils on the food due to bugs, the rot due to bugs, etc. The farmers aren’t irresponsible – it’s people who demand perfect food who are the irresponsible ones.

  • Tracey Dunn Williamson

    The USDA has been doing this for years, Wildlife Services has killed more than these dogs. They have also killed many other non intended target animals like bobcats. They are a rogue killing squad unfettered by anything, and our taxes pay for this. Again I will shout on to deaf ears – if you love wildlife get off beef and dairy – how do you think all this killing is defended ? Most of the killing they do is for the beef and dairy industries. This is FACT. You know you are dealing with thrill killers when words like “harvest,” “dispatch,” “Unintentional take ,” are used. Stand up for wildlife by not funding the enemy.

    • Haight

      They’ve been doing it for at least 60 years, only when I was a child in the 60’s they called them Cyanide Guns. I grew up in the foot hills of Howe and they were all over the place. We raised two baby Antelope because the mothers were killed by these things. They painted rocks or posts red to warn humans but pets and other wildlife were often killed by them.

    • Brian R Gard

      Right On – Exactly right on!

    • Bill Reese

      The killing is defended by the protection of humans who have been mauled by wildlife. Like me. The programs are successful in that you don’t hear very much about people being killed or maimed by wildlife any more. Having a peaceful life on a farm shouldn’t mean you have to always be at risk of attack by predators.

  • Rlwy

    Taxpayer money funded the use of M-44/Wildlife Services and the public has the right to know specifically what land owner used M-44/Wildlife Services. Surely, if I had injured a child and killed a family pet, I would face repercussions; we should expect nothing less, if not more from our government agencies and the private businesses killing our wildlife. The public must consistently press for steeper penalties/impactful consequences.

  • The use of these thing within at least 50 miles of ANY KIND of human habitation is basically attempted manslaughter and the official that ordered the unit placed should be in custody by now facing those charges. Only removing them from the “immediate area” is insanity. We should have quit using these types of devices (there are several) decades ago! There is ON WAY to make these things only kill coyotes. They kill what ever and whoever gets too close to the bait!

  • Rlwy

    “They’re (USDA/Wildlife Services) blatantly lying.” Watch this short video interview with the boy and family poisoned by M-44: http://www.idahostatejournal.com/news/local/pocatello-boy-watches-family-dog-die-after-cyanide-bomb-explodes/article_d0003a2f-6b7f-5d31-b427-68db03d3b93a.html

  • Seriously outraged !!!

    Ok these idiots at the USDA are dilusional!!! I’ve never herd of this practice and am outraged that they use it for so called wildlife management!!! … it’s obvious it is a huge risk to people / pets .. and non intentional targets …. This has to stop!!! … I for one am joining any organization that is opposing this practice … this has to stop ! Even if they had put up signs … which they obviously did not …. children and non intentional targets CAN’T READ!!!!

    • issyco

      Join the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) or Defenders of Wildlife or just Google and ask which ones are trying to stop this insanity!

  • Ashley

    This is CRIMINAL! There is no reason to have ANY traps set for wildlife. They belong there, it’s their home. This is a department Trump needs to eliminate. They are a hazard to the environment. Family should sue–own them! They are a disgrace!

  • issyco

    There is no reason good enough to intentionally kill any wild animals and Wildlife Services does it by the millions every year. Just Google how many birds and animals it poisons or shoots every year!!! Wildlife Services should be done away with once and for all!!!

  • Jackson

    Heck, why don’t these morons use some IEDs; that way they can kill more than one animal (or kid) at a time. After all coyotes, wolves, kids tend to run in packs. Time to step in and demand these be removed.

    I live just a few miles from this area, and never heard of one of these until a few days ago. I also walk two dogs in areas similar and wonder now, could I lose a dog to one of these devices. Cannot say what would happen if I did, but whoever planted it might want to take a long 30 year trip to Syria/Iraq/Iran to be save.

    What Trump needs to do and what should have been done years ago is to disband the dept of Ag and incorporate it into the Dept of Int. Too many services are duplicate such as camping, land management, etc. Some might say that mountain forests are overseen by AG, but not all; Henry mountains in UT are overssen by the BLM.

    The side issues that Ag has, such as kissing farmer butts, can be added to the interior. Just think of all the money we could save with less bureaucracy.

  • Middle Way

    Somebody should go to jail for this. Which one of us wouldn’t stand trial if we killed a dog and injured a boy by any kind of mistake at work? The federal government employees are never accountable. The only coyote eradication we need is by hunters with rifles. They need to remove these devices, and whoever approved them needs to be fired/stand trial. All the way to the top. Funny saying it because it won’t happen. Whole story is just sad and reckless. I feel terrible for the father of this boy and the anger he must feel.

    • Bill Reese

      The device was placed on the property on the request of the landowner. The Federal Government responds to landowner requests to eradicate predators near populated areas. The Federal Government is not to blame.

  • I like Pie

    Think about this. Federal bureaucrats in Washington D.C. decided it was a good idea to sprinkle the United States with CYANIDE LAND MINES.

    • Bill Reese

      This was placed there on the request of the landowner. The Federal government offers it to landowners as a service to keep down the predator population. The dog had to pull on it to release it.

  • Steven Feil

    “Legal” does not me right or safe.

    • Bill Reese

      What method of hunting that kills is “safe”?

  • Steven Feil

    Or maybe the child had permission to be on that property?

  • Immer Treue

    Looks like you better bet again

    Sheriff’s Capt. Dan Argyle responded to the call at about 1 p.m. Thursday. He said the device was in a patchwork area of private and public land and is believed to have been placed on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land. Argyle said the area is frequented by hikers, bikers and ATV riders. He said the area also has some sheep grazing.

    Mansfield said another M-44 was found near her home after authorities arrived on the scene.

  • Immer Treue

    Looks like you better bet again
    Sheriff’s Capt. Dan Argyle responded to the call at about 1 p.m. Thursday. He said the device was in a patchwork area of private and public land and is believed to have been placed on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land. Argyle said the area is frequented by hikers, bikers and ATV riders. He said the area also has some sheep grazing.
    Mansfield said another M-44 was found near her home after authorities arrived on the scene.

    • Bill Reese

      The Sherrif’s Dept. didn’t say it. Some guy from an environmental group said they interviewed the Sherrif. No confirmation from the Sherrif on that whatsoever.

  • T

    Great thought Bill. It was a combination of a juvenile and unfit parenting at fault here. Are you employed by Wildlife services ?

    • Bill Reese

      No. Just mauled by wildlife while living on the farm.

      • aaamen

        You were mauled by raccoons?

        • Bill Reese

          Actually mauled by a raccoon just once when I was 5. Still have scars. Been charged at by many raccoons as an adult, but they backed off when I chased them.

        • Bill Reese

          Once when I was 5. I still have those scars.

  • Laura Schneberger

    That’s not how they work, they require the moisture in the animals
    mouth, they don’t just kill indiscriminately anything live that happens to be near the device.
    The agency posts signage at every entrance to the area where these
    devices are necessary. As parents it is your responsibility to keep
    track of your kids and dogs particularly if you are in the woods, most of the time these devises are only on deeded land. However, dogs
    need to be leashed and you don’t let your kids play with such things
    especially when there are signs. Read the signs folks when you see them hanging on a fence and be aware. Doing away
    with WS will only increase disease vectors in wildlife
    this agency does a whole lot of things beneficial to the public at
    large. Who keeps the birds low at air fields, WS, who deals with plague
    in rodents, WS, who removes pigeons from dairies so milk is not
    contaminated WS. Who is the first line of defense against rabies outbreak? WS. Just calm down everyone it was an isolated incident.

  • Christopher Corvino

    yes because you and other uneducated white red necks know so much more about biology right?

  • Katherine Miller

    The “lethal take”? Is that what they will call it when it’s a toddler? This is sick.

  • patriot6280

    That was nice of the Government to put the disclaimer of “IN IDAHO” in their statement. It was the SECOND IN A WEEK in the Idaho-Wyoming area.


  • Amy Lynn Campbell

    Good gracious you are a special kind of troll aren’t you? 60 years of cyanide bombs vs millennia of naturally workable methods and you choose the cyanide bombs for convenience. Well, I suppose that says something about you. I’m no tree huger, but I’m not going to say that just because we’ve been doing it for 60 years means the methods are justified. We’ve been doing a lot of things over the last 60 years and a good portion of the world is sicker, weaker and less intelligent than it’s predecessors.

    • Bill Reese

      Was attacked by coyotes and raccoons in areas where they didn’t do this and was mauled. A troll is someone trying to piss you off for no reason. The Cyanide bombs are there for a reason.

  • Amy Lynn Campbell

    You obviously don’t understand the rancher or farming community. Most of them love their neighbors dearly and are as close as family. When the cattle gets out, who do you think these farmers call for help? Yep… that’s right, the neighbors. You have no idea what this kid was doing or how old he was and already you act as though he or his parents are guilty of some crime. How do you know the neighbors hadn’t given their permission for this child to be on their property? How do you know this child wasn’t running an errand between houses? You don’t. So stop being a prick. That child could have died instead of the dog, and then what? Have you ever seen what happens to something that dies of cyanide poisoning? On an autopsy done on a woman who was given cyanide laced coffee back in 2016 by a supposed friend, it basically destroyed everything on the way down, including her stomach. It’s a super painful and inhumane way to die. Cyanide gas is a bit different for sure, instead of eating you from the inside out, it asphyxiates you like being hung would… another scary and painful way to die. Sure, in small doses, it can be relatively harmless, but it said that the boy was “covered” in it. I don’t care what kind of “impediment to humans” certain kinds of wildlife cause, this is not humane. It’s a matter of convenience not conscience. https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/cyanide_general.htm

    • Bill Reese

      I lived on a frm and was part of the farming community for decades. You are right, the article doesn’t explain many things. However the troll is the one calling names. Not being obsessed with how things die. Fortunately you don’t get to determine the definition of “humane”, and for those of us who have been mauled by the wildlife you love, being eaten by something is not “humane” either.

  • Immer Treue

    You can’t get much more “American and Apple Pie” than a boy out with his dog.
    All to often we hear the refrain kids don’t get outside and play, as they spend too much time indoors on their electronic devices. We are also inundated with the droning of “city people” have no right to say what goes on in areas outside the city in which they reside. Going back a ways, I’m sure my folks didn’t know where I was half the time, but they were pretty sure I was out playing ball somewhere with friends or looking for snakes, frogs, butterflies etc. this boy was close to his home, with his dog. M-44 devices should be a memory.

    • Bill Reese

      Immer – I agree. But he was on someone else’s property. The government folks received a request from the landowner to place the M-44. Keep the boy and his dog on his own property and this doesn’t happen. The boy learned a valuable lesson, but his pet paid the price.

  • Al Eng

    That’s why we have hunting rifles. Duh!

    • Bill Reese

      The bombs patrol 24 hours a day. You only patrol when convenient.

  • Al Eng

    It has not been effective for 60 years. Those things kill every mammal in the area that is unfortunate to come across them.

    • Bill Reese

      That’s how they’ve been effective. They’ve kept rogue populations down.

  • steve2insd

    I don’t see the difference between using M44s to control predators, and booby traps for the 2-legged variety in your home or property. I might be found to have used lethal force lawfully (by any means at hand) protecting myself or others, but I would be guilty if I set traps to do so. The difference? I am not in constant control of the trap. It therefore operates indiscriminately. Protecting yourself and your livelihood (and my meat) should be legal, done with something like a gun, where you have control and are therefore responsible. Doing so with something indiscriminate, no matter what it is, should not be. If my grandson fell victim to one, I would damn sure even the score.

  • Mike Casey

    Talk about rarities! People being attacked by wildlife now that’s a rarity. People are killed by other people by the tens of thousands every year. Car and shooting accidents etc. drunk drivers, stupid people who don’t listen to warnings to leave potential disaster areas, diabetics who don’t monitor their blood sugar. Maybe you think we should brink back the gas chamber Billy boy to put an end to this human on human carnage and stupidity. I don’t think we need to worry about big cats and canines. You could count on one hand how often that has occurred in the last decade!

    • Bill Reese

      Not a rarity. Me and my friends were attacked and hurt by uncontrolled populations of coyotes and wild dogs. Would support every measure to control those critters that maul people.

    • Bill Reese

      In the US thousands of people are attacked by animals on a daily basis. Not quite sure what planet you live on, but dog maulings alone put over 45,000 people in hospitals per year, let alone the other maulings. I guess it would be nice to live in a bubble, but you might want to visit the doctor’s office once in a while and see what animal maulings show up every day.

  • Moonangel4evr

    How is this political?? You’d think people of any party could see how dangerous and foolish it is to have these on private OR public property. Btw, I’m a very conservative Republican.

  • Bill Reese

    I agree with you. I have encountered bears, lynx, mountain goats and bobcats without harm as a backpacker. But for those animals that overpopulate areas and humans are the next closest thing for food, I vote for the humans.

  • Bill Reese

    This is funny. We are living longer because we have better sources of protein. And if you tried to get that 60 grams of protein in your system from plant sources each day, you can’t without major discomfort. That’s why most of society rejects your arguments. They aren’t based in real science or common sense.

  • Bill Reese

    Oh I don’t know, the universe I live in says by law you don’t go on others property unless you have permission. Whether I am in the backcountry hiking or on my neighbor’s property it is with their consent. The M-44 was placed on private property on request of the homeowner, as is common practice.

  • Bill Reese

    The trap was set for predators in the area. No one intended for a pet to be killed. Murder requires intent, so your bizarre spin on the word “murder” is inappropriate.

  • Bill Reese

    It helps to publish these things so the ignorant parents can become educated.