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on March 18, 2017 at 7:30 AM, updated March 18, 2017 at 8:26 AM
A three-year-old Labrador retriever died and a 14-year boy was knocked to the ground when a cyanide device deployed by the federal government exploded in Pocatello, Idaho.
The Idaho State Journal reported the boy, who had been on a walk with his dog Thursday on a ridge near their home, watched his dog die. According to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, the boy was also “covered in an unknown substance” when the device known as an M-44 detonated. He was evaluated at a hospital and released.
“That little boy is lucky,” Sheriff Lorin Nielsen told the Pocatello newspaper. “His guardian angel was protecting him.”
The Idaho incident comes a few weeks after a gray wolf was accidentally killed by an M-44 on private land in Oregon’s Wallowa County. The controversial type of trap is used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services crews around the country primarily to kill coyotes and other predators.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced legislation as recently as 2012 to ban the trap.
DeFazio has said he would reintroduce a similar bill in Congress.
The wolf death was the first documented “incidental take” of its kind in Oregon involving the protected animal and the M-44, fish and wildlife officials said.
Federal Wildlife Services officials said there were 96 M-44 devices dispersed across Oregon as of last week and the agency was looking to remove devices that were near known wolf habitat. Oregon fish and wildlife officials have said the devices were not allowed in areas of known wolf activity.
Oregon has long paid Wildlife Services to kill invasive species and specific predators. But Gov. Kate Brown’s’ recommended budget doesn’t include $460,000 typically set aside to pay the federal agency to kill animals in Oregon.
Bannock County officials described the device as “extremely dangerous to animals and humans.”
The department circulated photos of the trap. “If a device such as this is ever located please do not touch or go near the device and contact your local law enforcement agency,” officials said.
Government officials have said the number of deaths of domestic animals and non-target animals each year is low, and officials say they are conducting an “internal review” of the wolf death.
Wildlife Services killed 121 coyotes in Oregon in 2016 with M-44 devices, along with three red foxes, according to the government’s figures. No gray wolf was killed in the U.S. last year with the cyanide capsules, according to the government.
A Eugene nonprofit says the government isn’t being truthful about the number of pets and non-target animals – such as wolves – killed each year.
“Yesterday’s Idaho poisoning of a dog and the near poisoning of a child is yet another example of what we’ve been saying for decades: M-44s are really nothing more than land mines waiting to go off, no matter if it’s a child, a dog, or a wolf,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, said in a statement.
“It’s time to ban these notoriously dangerous devices on all lands across the United States.”
— Andrew Theen