California Court Approves Ban on Federal Wildlife Poisoning, Trapping

Restrictions Aim to Protect Rare Tricolored Blackbirds, Beaver, Gray Wolves

SAN FRANCISCO— In response to a lawsuit filed by wildlife advocacy groups, a federal animal-killing program must restrict its use of bird-killing poisons in Northern California and stop setting strangulation snares and other traps in places like the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The agreement, approved today by a San Francisco federal court, also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife in California’s “Sacramento District.” This 10-county region covers Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Napa, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties.

“This victory will save hundreds of animals that would have needlessly suffered and died in traps set by Wildlife Services over the next several years,” said Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney representing the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit. “It’s another important win in our fight to shut down this agency’s destructive and indiscriminate war on bobcats, coyotes and other wildlife.”

Under the court order approved today, Wildlife Services must provide, by the end of 2023, an “environmental impact statement” that analyzes the effects and risks of its wildlife-killing program in the Sacramento District. It must also offer opportunities for public input.

Pending completion of that study, the court order imposes several measures to protect wildlife in the 10-county area. For example, it restricts use of the avicide DRC-1339 to prevent accidental poisoning of state-threatened tricolored blackbirds. It also bans any use of body-gripping traps, such as strangulation snares, in several areas.

The court order further ends most beaver-killing in waterways where endangered wildlife depends on beaver-created habitats. The order also spells out several measures to protect California’s endangered gray wolves from being accidentally killed in traps set for other carnivores.

“We are pleased that Wildlife Services has agreed to consider the environmental impacts of its wildlife-killing program,” said Cristina Stella, an attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Wild animals in California deserve our protection, and this victory assures that they will be free from some of the cruelest killing practices until Wildlife Services complies with federal law.”

“This agreement will ensure greater transparency and accountability from a federal agency that has run roughshod over America’s wildlife for far too long,” said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote executive director. “Many cost effective, non-lethal solutions exist to address human-wildlife conflicts that are more humane, ecologically sound and ethically defensible. We are hopeful that this settlement will propel a shift in this direction statewide.”

Today’s victory is the result of a lawsuit filed in August 2019 by the Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Legal Defense Fund and Project Coyote.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services is a multimillion-dollar federal program that uses painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and aerial gunning to kill coyotes, cougars, birds and other wild animals. Most of the killing is in response to requests from the agriculture industry.

In 2018 Wildlife Services reported killing nearly 1.5 million native animals nationwide. That year, in California, the program reported killing 26,441 native animals, including 3,826 coyotes, 859 beavers, 170 foxes, 83 mountain lions and 105 black bears. The 5,675 birds killed in 2018 in California included blackbirds, ducks, egrets, hawks, owls and doves.

Today’s victory follows several other recent wins by wildlife advocates in their campaigns against Wildlife Services, including in California (2019 and 2017), Oregon (2018), Colorado (2017), Arizona (2017), Idaho (2019 and 2018) and Wyoming (2019).

# # #

Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visit

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit

Research Links Pesticide Harmful to Bees With Collapse of Fisheries

Anew study out this week provides more evidence of harm caused by a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, with researchers linking use of the chemicals on a Japanese lake with impacts to an entire food web that resulted in the collapse of two fisheries.

“No surprise,” tweeted former UK Green Party leader leader Natalie Bennett, “soaking our planet in pesticides has broad systemic effects on biodiversity and bioabundance.”

For the study, published in the November 1 issue of the journal Science, the researchers looked at Lake Shinji and analyzed over two decades of data. They found cascading impacts that appeared to stem from the first use of neonicotinoids on nearby rice paddies.

André Müller@andreairplane9

First study in @sciencemagazine to show how –> application of neonicotinoids 💉 around lakes –> less dragonflies, mayflies 🦟 –> less fish 🐟 (perhaps birds and others). 

Alliance for Freshwater Life@AFL_org

Fishery collapse ‘confirms Silent Spring pesticide prophecy’ –
Common pesticides found to starve #fish ‘astoundingly fast’ by killing aquatic #insects via @guardianeco 

See André Müller’s other Tweets

Masumi Yamamuro@MasumiYamamuro

decreased and smelts in a Japanese lagoon through decreasing foods aquatic insects and crustaceans. Any comments and suggestions are welcome. 

Neonicotinoids disrupt aquatic food webs and decrease fishery yields

It is now well known that neonicotinoids negatively affect pollinators. As research has expanded, it has become clear that these globally used insecticides directly affect other ecosystem components,…

See Masumi Yamamuro’s other Tweets

“Since the application of neonicotinoids to agricultural fields began in the 1990s, zooplankton biomass has plummeted in a Japanese lake surrounded by these fields,” the researchers wrote. “This decline has led to shifts in food web structure and a collapse of two commercially harvested freshwater fish species.”

“Using data on zooplankton, water quality, and annual fishery yields of eel and smelt,” the paper says, “we show that neonicotinoid application to watersheds since 1993 coincided with an 83% decrease in average zooplankton biomass in spring, causing the smelt harvest to collapse from 240 to 22 tons in Lake Shinji, Shimane Prefecture, Japan.”

As for the strength of the link between the pesticides and the collapse, added:

The researchers note that they also studied other factors that might have led to fishery collapse, such as nutrient depletion or changes in oxygen or salt concentrations. They report that they were not able to find any evidence showing that there might have been something other than pesticides killing the food fish ate leaving them to starve. They conclude that the evidence strongly suggests it was the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides into the lake environment that led to the die-offs.

The Guardian, in its reporting on the study, noted that the researchers pointed to the haunting warning from Rachelel Carson’s seminal work, Silent Spring:

In their report, the Japanese researchers said: “She wrote: ‘These sprays, dusts and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests and homes—nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad,’ to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams.’ The ecological and economic impact of neonicotinoids on the inland waters of Japan confirms Carson’s prophecy.”

Similar impacts, the researchers added, are likely felt in other locations.

“Just awful, what gruesome harm we are inflicting on the environment,” Matt Shardlow, CEO of the invertebrate conservation group Buglife, wrote on Twitter in response to the new study.

According to Nathan Donley, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity and who was not involved in the study, the findings should spur action by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This study highlights cascading harms to aquatic life from neonicotinoids that our EPA has known about but shrugged off,” said Donley. “The evidence is now overwhelming that these pesticides are turning our rivers, lakes, and streams into inhospitable environments for fish, frogs, and other aquatic life.”

“This landmark new research should make it impossible for even the Trump administration to ignore the immense damage caused by these dangerous chemicals,” Donley added.

Neonicotinoids, or neonics as they’re often called, have also been linked to harm to bees, other insectsbirds, and other animals.

EPA Reverses Approval of Deadly ‘Cyanide Bombs’ After Public Outcry


Trump’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reversed a decision made last week to reauthorize the use of deadly cyanide traps used to kill wild animals that threaten agriculturethe Associated Press reported Thursday.

The traps, officially called M-44s but nicknamed “cyanide bombs,” are spring-loaded devices that kill their targets with a discharge of sodium cyanide, according to The Guardian. They are used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services to kill animals like foxes and coyotes that farmers and ranchers consider pests. But critics say that they cause long-term pollution and harm more than their intended targets, even killing pets and injuring humans, HuffPost explained.

“I am announcing a withdrawal of EPA’s interim registration review decision on sodium cyanide, the compound used in M-44 devices to control wild predators,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement released Thursday.

Kierán Suckling@KieranSuckling

Great News: Under withering public criticism, the @EPA today withdrew its August 10th approval of wildlife-killing cyanide bombs.

EPA press release here: 

Statement by EPA Administrator Wheeler on M-44, Predator Control Devices | US EPA

EPA News Release: Statement by EPA Administrator Wheeler on M-44, Predator Control Devices

Kierán Suckling@KieranSuckling

BREAKING: Trump EPA approves inhumane cyanide bombs.

Feds killed 6,579 foxes, coyotes, bears, racoons, dogs, etc. with them in 2018; 13,232 in 2017. Decline due to suits by @CenterForBioDiv @wildearthguard @HumaneSociety requiring new federal review. 

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The agency’s decision last week to allow continued use of the traps until a study on their impacts was completed in 2021 sparked a firestorm of complaints. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) told HuffPost that 99.9 percent of all comments sent to the EPA about the traps opposed them.

“I’m thrilled that the EPA just reversed its wrongheaded decision to reauthorize deadly cyanide traps,” CBD Carnivore Conservation Director Collette Adkins said in a statement to HuffPost. “So many people expressed their outrage, and the EPA seems to be listening. I hope the feds finally recognize the need for a permanent ban to protect people, pets and imperiled wildlife from this poison.”

Predator Defense Executive Director Brooks Fahy also credited public outrage with the EPA’s reversal.

“Obviously somebody at EPA is paying attention to the public’s concerns about cyanide bombs,” Fahy said in a statement reported by The Guardian. “It would appear they’re responding to public outrage over the interim decision from last week. Our phone has been ringing off the hook from concerned citizens regarding their greenlight to continue using these horrific devices. We’ll have to see how this plays out.”

Wolf Conservation Center


The Trump administration reversed its decision to use ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wild animals!
Big thanks to @PredatorDefense for fighting for this! 

Trump administration reverses decision to use ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wild animals

The poison-filled traps are used by the federal government to kill coyotes, foxes and other animals for farmers and ranchers

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The traps are deadly to both their intended and unintended targets. Of the more than 1.5 million native wild animals killed by Wildlife Services in 2018, around 6,500 of them were killed by the traps. In 2017, the traps killed around 13,200 wild animals, the Associated Press reported.

In one tragic incident recounted by HuffPost, one of the traps went off in Pocatello, Idaho in 2017 while 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield was walking his dog Casey. Casey died, and Mansfield was rushed to the hospital. He eventually recovered, and his parents are suing the USDA.

Wildlife Services stopped using the traps in Idaho after the incident, and in Colorado following a lawsuit. Cyanide bombs are currently banned in Oregon.


‘s Pick to Head Blocked Report Warning of Risk to 1,000+ Endangered Species  @bpncamp @EricLiptonNYT

Trump’s Pick to Head Interior Blocked Report Warning of Pesticide Risk to 1,000+ Endangered Species

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt faces a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday.

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Senator Rand Paul Destroyed Pet Food Safety

Humans, Fish and Other Animals Are Consuming Microfibers in Our Food and Water

It’s 7:48 pm on January 8, 2018, and rain is quenching San Mateo, California’s parched suburban streets. I park my car and don my waterproof jacket and pants, yank on knee-high plastic rain boots, and trudge over to Carolynn Box, science programs director for the 5 Gyres Institute, and Diana Lin, environmental scientist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI). Standing on a footbridge over San Mateo Creek, we are all wrapped, head to toe, in foul weather gear — all of it plastic in one textile form or another. Box plunges a rigid plastic tube into the swiftly moving creek as Lin turns on a pump. Making a loud wamp-wamp-wamp sound, like a sewing machine, it slurps up a 5-gallon (19-liter) sample of water from the swiftly moving stream.

A passerby inquires what we’re up to. Someone quips, “We’re bottling water to sell it!” Everyone chuckles.

In fact, the creek sampling is part of a two-year research project in which SFEI and 5 Gyres are analyzing microplastics — synthetic fragments 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) or smaller — in water, sediment, fish and wastewater treatment plant effluent released into San Francisco Bay. This includes microfibers — thread-shaped microplastics — shed from synthetic apparel, like the clothes we are all wrapped in.

Animal Impacts

To date, laboratory studies have largely looked at microplastics as a whole rather than specifically at microfibers. However, since microfibers are a primary constituent of microplastics, such research can provide useful insights.

Lab studies have found that microplastics can harm small aquatic organisms that eat them — including plankton, a hugely important food source for aquatic organisms. These harms include decreased ability to feed and reproduce. Zooplankton given food laced with microplastics in a lab had decreased nutrition and poorer health than the control group. And pearl oysters fed polystyrene microbeads had less energy.

Microfiber researcher Chelsea Rochman, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, and other researchers, including Matthew Cole, a research scientist at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, hypothesize that the physical shape of synthetic fibers might affect organisms. For example, they could increase the likeliness of blockages in the digestive tracts of some organisms that consume them, depending on the fiber’s size and the animal’s size, they say.

A small number of lab studies have sought to analyze how ingesting fibrous microplastics affects aquatic organisms. For a 2015 study, European researchers embedded 1- to 5-millimeter (0.04- to 0.2- inch) microfibers from polypropylene rope in food given to crabs for four weeks. The crabs that were fed the fiber-laced food ate less overall than the control group and had less energy available for growth. After moving through the digestive tracts, the fibers were balled up, so they did not seem to cause physical blockages.

But in a lab study published last year, Australian researchers found that microfibers harmed Ceriodaphnia dubia, a freshwater crustacean, more than microbeads did. Complete mortality occurred at lower concentrations of microfibers than of microbeads; at sublethal concentrations, the crustaceans showed more severe stunted growth and reduced reproduction when exposed to fiber than when exposed to beads. The researchers hypothesized that the beads harmed the organisms by filling their guts without providing nutrition, while the fibers entangled, exhausted, immobilized and deformed them.

In his experiments, Cole also has shown that copepods — crustaceans that are found in marine and nearly all types of freshwater and serve as a key food source for small fish — readily ingest microfibers.

There is concern about impacts due to chemicals that attach themselves to microfibers, too. Rochman fed fish microplastic pellets that had absorbed toxins via prolonged exposure to seawater near San Diego. The fish accumulated the chemicals — which included polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), all known carcinogens — and suffered liver toxicity and other pathological changes.

Advocacy groups such as 5 Gyres pointed to Rochman’s study, and to concern that microplastics, including microfibers, could cause large-scale harm by introducing toxins found in waterways (including the legacy industrial contaminants PCB and DDT) into the food chain, to successfully lobby for a US ban on the sale of soaps and cosmetics with added plastic microbeads. (Canada and the United Kingdom have followed suit.)

Thus far, however, scientists cannot say whether microfibers from textiles harm nonhuman animals in different or more severe ways than other types of microplastics. But some suspect so. Since many synthetic garments are treated with synthetic dyes, waterproofing or antimicrobial agents, and because clothing accumulates flame retardants and sends them into wastewater, scientists are especially interested in studying microfibers shed from apparel as a source of toxic chemicals.

“It’s understood that [microfibers] may have unique effects because of their shape and maybe the cocktail of chemicals associated with them — like all of the dyes and sometimes flame retardants or waterproof chemicals [applied to textiles],” says Rochman.

Humans, Too

Humans consume microfibers via bottled and tap water, salt, beer, and seafood, according to a growing list of studies.

In a study published in April, student Mary Kosuth and associate professor Elizabeth Wattenberg from the University of Minnesota and Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, analyzed 159 samples of tap water from 14 countries, 12 brands of beer brewed with Laurentian Great Lakes water, and 12 brands of commercial sea salt. Eighty-one percent of the tap water samples contained human-generated debris, as did all of the beer and salt samples. Nearly all of the debris was composed of microfibers, most likely synthetic.

Earlier this year Orb Media published a study of bottled water led by Mason. Microplastics were found in all but 17 of the 259 bottles of water analyzed. Fibers were the second most common type of particle found. Polypropylene, which is the type if plastic used in bottle caps, was the most common type found. Nylon accounted for 16 percent of the fibersand polyester made up 6 percent.

In response to this study, the World Health Organization is launching a review of its own to explore the potential risks of plastics in drinking water. A WHO spokesperson told The Guardian that the organization is planning to assess existing evidence, identify areas where more research is needed and make plans to address them.

There is also concern that humans may be exposed to microfibers through what we eat. In a 2015 study published in NatureRochman reported that microfibers were found in the intestines of market fish and shellfish. Since people consume the guts of shellfish, they are likely consuming microplastics when they do.

Recently, researchers from Shiraz University in Iran found microplastics — most of them microfibers — embedded in the tissues of four species of fish (shrimp scad, orange-spotted grouper, pickhandle barracuda and bartail flathead) caught in the Persian Gulf. The researchers recommended caution in consuming such fish.

In the Air

We also might be coming into contact with microfibers through the air we breathe. Think, for example, of tiny fibers that might be getting past filters in clothes dryers, or those sent airborne when you shake out a blanket or sheet.

Several years ago Rachid Dris led a study as a graduate student at Université Paris-Est that involved collecting atmospheric fallout on rooftops in two locations, one urban and the other, suburban. Nearly all the material collected was fibrous, and a third of the fibrous materials were synthetic. In a second study, Dris, now a researcher at the University of Bayreuth, compared the fallout at three indoor sites with that of an outdoor site and found far more airborne fibers indoor. A bit more than a third of the indoor fibers were synthetic.

Dris and colleagues have also studied potential human health impactsfrom breathing microfibers. Their research found that how likely a fiber is to be inhaled (brought into the nose or mouth and deposited into the upper airway) or respired (brought into the lung) depends on size and shape — but that inhaled fibers can settle in the lung and can cause inflammation. Fibers bigger than 5 microns in diameter are not likely to enter the lung, according to the paper. The fibers in the fallout studies Dris performed were between 7 and 15 microns — however, only fibers 50 microns long and up were analyzed (smaller ones could not be analyzed) so shorter fibers may have smaller diameters.

Biopsies of the lungs of textile plant workers have shown lesions whose suspected causes, based on animal studies, were acrylic, polyester or nylon dust.The researchers looked to studies of textile workers dating back to the mid-1970s and late ’90s. These show that synthetic microfibers have been found in lung biopsies, and biopsies of the lungs of textile plant workers have shown lesions whose suspected causes, based on animal studies, were acrylic, polyester or nylon dust. Some of these past studies have shown higher respiratory inflammation linked to prolonged exposure to airborne fibers (a similar pattern of biological response to asbestos exposure). Yet others have found that pulmonary fibrosis and cancer can follow extended periods of inflammation.

Dris and colleagues note that airborne fibers, like those found in water, could be manufactured or coated with harmful chemicals. And they call for more research both on the human health impacts of microfibers and on whether and how consumers are inhaling microfibers through sources such as household dust.

Now What?

In a nutshell, we know very little about the impacts of microfibers on the health of nonhuman animals and people. But what we do know suggests a need for additional research.

Indeed, researchers are working to find out more about actual animal and human impacts. And at the same time, efforts are underway among advocacy groups, researchers and apparel brands aimed at everything from understanding how and which apparel sheds fibers, to preventing fibers from entering wastewater, to potentially altering how textiles are made to reduce shedding. View Ensia homepage

Read part 1 and part 3 of this series for the whole story.

Poaching rings charged in Washington and Alaska

POACHING – Three men are accused of trying to poison wolves and leading illegal sheep and bear hunts at the hunting lodge built by Fairbanks hunting guide and aviator Urban Rahoi.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Anchorage announced a 15-count federal indictment on Tuesday against three employees of Rahoi’s Ptarmigan Lake Lodge, which is an inholding on the north side of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

The indictment alleges that Casey Richardson of Huson, Montana, Dale Lackner of Haines, Alaska, and Jeffrey Harris of Poulsbo, Washington, conspired to violate the Lacey Act, a 1900 law that governs interstate traffic of animal parts.

Harris and Richardson are charged with “conspiracy to use substance to incapacitate game” in the indictment for allegedly making plans to buy the sweetener xylitol in fall 2015 to poison wolves in the area they guide.

Poison is not a legal way to kill wolves under Alaska or federal law.

Harris, Richardson and Lackner also face false statement and false record claims. Harris faces an additional charge of “unlawful baiting of game” for allegedly establishing bear baiting stations in the national preserve that were not permitted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or the National Park Service.

In the Lacey Act charges, the three defendants are accused of guiding out-of-state clients on sheep and bear hunts in 2014 and 2015 and transporting animal parts across state lines while not being registered guides.

The crimes alleged in the indictment could be punished by a jail term of as much as five years or a $250,000 fine, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Harris was arrested Tuesday in Washington and has an initial court date on Friday in Anchorage.

Longview hunters related to 100 illegal kills

POACHING – Seven suspects involved in a massive poaching ring in southwestern Washington and north central Oregon were officially charged this week for combined violations involved in killing roughly 100 animals illegally, including bear, elk, deer, bobcat, and squirrel.

KING 5 TV reports that multiple videos seized showed the suspects encouraging their dogs to tear bears apart after shooting them from tree tops.

Officers were alerted to the poaching ring after receiving tips about dead wildlife found without their heads or other trophy body parts.

The seven individuals being charged are from Longview and Morton, Washington, and include two juveniles.

“This was really shocking, especially that it was going on in broad daylight right in front of us,” said Washington Fish and Wildlife Police Cpt. Jeff Wickerhsam. “The correspondence among these individuals showed a wanton disregard for our wildlife resources and the rules meant to protect them.”

For Wickersham and others, the graphic videos and other evidence was disturbing. Officers served search warrants in March, April, and May. It was like peeling back an onion, Wickersham said.

The father and son pair, Eddy “Alvin” Dills and Joe Dills, are well-known in hunting circles, KING 5 reports:

“Joe Dills was investigated in 2007 and charged in 2008 for his participation in the prolific poaching group, the self-avowed ‘Kill ’Em All Boyz.’ According to his case file, Dills hunted beside Micky Gordon, a man who bragged about illegally killing bears among other wildlife and even lethally punished one his hound dogs by wrapping an electrical collar to his testicles, shocking him so severely the dog later died of his injuries.

“Eddy Dills, Joe Dills’ dad, hunted on nearly two-dozen state issued permits in 2011 to kill bears on timber farms, as part of the state’s Bear Timber Depredation Management program, which depends on hunter ethics, entrusted behind locked gates on private land to follow the rules.”

USDA halts use of M-44 ‘cyanide bombs’ in Idaho following death of family pet

This photo shows the M-44 that killed the Mansfield family's 3-year-old dog in Pocatello, Idaho.

This photo shows the M-44 that killed the Mansfield family’s 3-year-old dog in Pocatello, Idaho.

The federal government has agreed to halt the use of M-44 cyanide “bombs” to control predatory animals in Idaho after a 14-year-boy was injured and his dog killed by the controversial device.

Canyon Mansfield, 14, was knocked to the ground last month when an M-44 predator control device spewed cyanide gas into his face and killed his dog. The family had no knowledge the device — set by the U.S. government some 350 yards from the Mansfields’ doorstep — was there.

Four conservation and animal-welfare groups also filed suit last week against the government over the M-44s after a gray wolf — a protected species — was accidentally killed by the device in Oregon.

In a letter Tuesday to conservation groups, the USDA’s Wildlife Services program – which kills thousands of predators across the country annually – said it was halting the use of M-44s on all private, state, and federal lands in Idaho.

“We take seriously the incident in Idaho,” the letter read.

“Currently, WS has ceased all use of M-44 devices on all land ownerships in the state of Idaho,” it said. “WS has also removed all M-44s currently deployed on all land ownerships in Idaho.”

It remains unknown whether Wildlife Services will decide to permanently halt the use of M44s. At least 19 conservation groups have filed a petition calling for the devices to be banned permanently.

In its letter, Wildlife Services informed the groups that “WS will notify you 30 days prior to placing any new M-44s in Idaho.”

The M-44s, also known as “coyote-getters,” are designed to lure animals with a smelly bait. When an animal tugs on the device, a spring-loaded metal cylinder fires sodium cyanide powder into its mouth. The devices are placed on land by Wildlife Services — a little-known branch of the USDA tasked with destroying animals seen as threats to people, agriculture and the environment.

Over the years, thousands of non-target animals — wild and domestic — have been mistakenly killed by the lethal devices.

Canyon Mansfield stumbled upon the unmarked device March 16 while running up a hill behind his parents’ Pocatello, Idaho home with his 3-year-old golden Labrador, Casey.

When the M-44 detonated, the boy watched as his dog lay dying, suffocating from the orange-colored cyanide sprayed by the device. Since the incident, Canyon has experienced headaches, nausea and numbness and has visited a neurologist for testing, his mother, Theresa Mansfield, told Fox News.

The Mansfield dog’s death follows a string of other recent incidents in which family pets and endangered species were accidentally killed by M-44s.

The government, meanwhile, has called the accidental death of family pets from M-44s a “rare occurrence,” and said Wildlife Services posts signs and issues other warnings to alert pet owners when traps are placed near their homes.

On Tuesday, various conservation groups praised the decision to temorarily ban use of the devices in Idaho.

“This could well be the tipping point that leads to a nationwide ban of these extraordinarily dangerous devices via the legislation introduced in Congress last month,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of the national wildlife advocacy group, Predator Defense.

“As the recent cases in Idaho, Wyoming and Oregon amply demonstrate, M-44s endanger non-target wildlife, pets and children, no matter how they are used.”

Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said, “We’re glad to see these indiscriminate killing devices being pulled from Idaho – that’s an important step toward protecting wildlife, people and pets from these cyanide bombs.”

The groups petitioning for the M-44 ban included Western Watersheds Project, Predator Defense, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, Western Wildlife Conservancy and Nevada Wildlife Alliance.

Legislation introduced to ban toxic predator control poisons

  • By Shelbie Harris
  • Mar 31, 2017 

The exposure of toxic, cyanide poisoning to Canyon Mansfield, a 14-year-old Pocatello boy who triggered an M-44 predator control device, and subsequent petitions calling for a permanent ban has recaptured the attention of U.S. lawmakers.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, has been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of lethal devices like Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide containing M-44 devices for decades. He recently introduced H.R. 1817, the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017, which seeks to permanently ban the two deadly poisons for predator control throughout the United States.

“Look, it’s indiscriminate, and there have been numerous instances of domestic dogs being killed, and I’ve said for a number of years that it’s only a matter of time until a kid is killed,” DeFazio said. “And this recent incident in Idaho where the child watched the dog die a horrible death and he was slightly exposed is a sterling example.”

These two poisons are currently used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services predator control program, which according to its own report, killed more than 1.6 million native U.S. animals in 2016.

The device that detonated in Mansfield’s face, sent him to the hospital and, ultimately, killed his dog on March 16 was an M-44. Often known as a “cyanide bomb,” it’s a device used by the USDA to prevent predators such as coyotes from harming livestock on farm and ranch lands. When triggered, the M-44 spews a potentially lethal dose of sodium cyanide powder into whoever or whatever tugs on it.

Compound 1080 is a tasteless, odorless and colorless poison with no antidote. Although the EPA banned Compound 1080 in 1972, after intense lobbying from the livestock industry, it was re-approved for use in the “Livestock Protection Collar” (collars containing the poison that are placed around the necks of sheep and burst when punctured by a predator, barbed wire, or other sharp object) in 1985. Each of these collars contains enough poison to kill six adult humans.

“Even if a sheep is predated on with a 1080 collar, subsequently any carrion-eater that feeds on that is likely to die, that means bald eagles, golden eagles or vultures,” DeFazio said. “This kind of indiscriminate killing just has no place in Wildlife Services or controlling predators that have killed livestock.”

He continued, “They kill domestic animals who are totally innocent and they kill many predators who are innocent of depredation. It’s something that should not be out there for public land, and I don’t think they should be on private land either. If private land owners want to put them out by themselves, not subsidized by the taxpayers, OK, but these devices just need to go.”

The national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense, as well as the Humane Society, supports the new bill.

“The fact that Wildlife Services continues to state that incidents of M-44s killing domestic dogs and exposing people to poison are ‘rare’ is an outrage,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “Those of us involved with this issue know these incidents are common-place and that countless more will never be known because of Wildlife Services’ repeated cover-ups. We applaud this legislation and thank Congressman DeFazio for his unfailing support on this issue.”

The USDA’s Wildlife Services Agency regularly uses both sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 their predator control programs, which are subsidized by taxpayers. States contract with federal predator control programs to keep so-called “predator” populations down to help ranchers protect their livestock.

“It’s high time for our own federal government to stop using sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 on our public lands,” said Wayne Pacelle, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “These two poisons are highly lethal but completely indiscriminate. They endanger children, beloved family pets, grizzly bears, wolves and bald eagles alike. And the deaths they cause are violent and inhumane.”

The use of these poisons has led to the deaths of endangered animals and domesticated dogs and has injured multiple people in the past.

Since triggering the M-44 device, Mansfield has experienced headaches, nausea and numbness, the family said Tuesday.

Several formal petitions also surfaced Tuesday, calling for the immediate termination and removal of all devices installed in Idaho by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency. Mark Mansfield, the boy’s father and a local physician, filed one of the petitions directly to the White House.

Backed by a coalition of conservation and wildlife organizations, the Western Watersheds Project also spearheaded a direct formal petition addressed to Jason Suckow, western region director for USDA-Wildlife Services.

An additional petition filed on the website Care2 reached more than 48,000 signatures Friday evening.

“This is something that should end,” DeFazio said. “There is no central control (for Wildlife Services). Each of the state agencies are basically an entity under themselves. Some of them are totally out of control, entering into agreements that they shouldn’t and not following the rules. It’s an agency that is out of control and very dispersed.”

Mark said that although he is new to the political process of implementing new legislation, he is hopeful for change and urges people who come across the petitions to not only sign it, but also share the information on social media as much as possible.

“I’m excited, because the bill is clean, short and precise,” Mansfield said. “There is nothing extra tied to the legislation and in my mind no reasonable human being would be against it.”

E. Ore. counties drop cyanide trap use

Wildlife agencies halt practice after gray wolf accidentally killed

Katy Nesbitt

Published Mar 31, 2017 at 01:50PM

ENTERPRISE — Using cyanide traps to kill coyotes was halted in six Eastern Oregon counties to protect the region’s burgeoning wolf population.

Following the unintentional kill of a gray wolf Feb. 10 in Wallowa County, an agreement between Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the agency that manages gray wolves in Eastern Oregon, and USDA Wildlife Services, the federal agency that controls predators on private land, M-44s, spring-activated devices containing cyanide powder, will no longer be used to control predators in Baker, Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow and Grant counties.

A Shamrock Pack adult male, OR-48, was collared this winter on the Zumwalt Prairie, according to Mike Hansen, assistant Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf biologist at Enterprise. Following his capture and being outfitted with a GPS collar, OR-48 went on a solo trek that took him to Baker County.

The wolf was killed when he encountered an M-44 on its return to Wallowa County. The trap was set by a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agent in an area that at the time was not designated by the state as an area of known wolf activity.

Directly after the incident Rick Hargrave, deputy administrator for ODFW’s Information and Education Division, said his agency was unaware of Wildlife Service’s use of M-44s.

Michelle Dennehy, wildlife communications coordinator, stated in an email after the incident that Wildlife Services informed the state they had removed all M-44s from areas of known wolf activity identified by ODFW.

The agencies are continuing to work together to ensure information about wolf activity is communicated effectively.

“We appreciate that Wildlife Services has voluntarily removed M-44s,” Doug Cottam, ODFW Wildlife Division administrator, said. “We also recognize we want to increase our communication between our agencies. We want to develop a more effective system to ensure that Wildlife Services’ staff working in areas with wolves know what ODFW knows about wolf activity.”

After the initial agreement between the state and federal agencies, Dave Williams, Oregon state director for Wildlife Services, said ODFW wanted an extension on the ban of M-44s in much of Northeastern Oregon.

“We were requested in writing by ODFW to immediately discontinue use of M-44s in Baker, Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Grant and Morrow counties,” Williams said. “Prior to that request we pulled up M-44s in areas of known wolf activity and adjacent to those areas where we felt an additional margin of precaution was needed.”

Dennehy’s email said ODFW does not have regulatory authority over the coyote control work of Wildlife Services or the use of M-44s. However, the two agencies regularly work together on wildlife management including wolf management. Wildlife Services has been an important partner in helping ODFW manage wolf-livestock conflict.

Williams said moving forward it will be important for both agencies to share information on wolf sightings.

“We should know as much as ODFW where wolves are so that we can continue to do our job and continue to use the tools in our toolbox the best we can,” Williams said.

Rep. Peter DeFazio Introduces Legislation to Ban Lethal Poisons Compound 1080, Sodium Cyanide for Predator Control

WASHINGTON—Today Congressman Peter DeFazio introduced H.R. 1817, the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017, legislation that would ban the use of the lethal poisons Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide for predator control efforts.

The bill is supported by the national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense, as well as the Humane Society.

“I have been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of lethal devices and poisons like Compound 1080 and the chemicals used in M-44 devices for decades, even as a Lane County Commissioner,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D-OR). “The use of these deadly toxins by Wildlife Services has led to countless deaths of family pets and innocent animals and injuries to humans. It is only a matter of time before they kill someone. These extreme so-called ‘predator control’ methods have been proven no more effective than non-lethal methods—the only difference between the two is that the lethal methods supported by the ranching industry are subsidized by American tax dollars.”

“The fact that Wildlife Services continues to state that incidents of M-44s killing domestic dogs and exposing people to poison are ‘rare’ is an outrage,” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director, Predator Defense. “Those of us involved with this issue know these incidents are common-place and that countless more will never be known because of Wildlife Services’ repeated cover-ups. We applaud this legislation and thank Congressman DeFazio for his unfailing support on this issue.”


“It’s high time for our own federal government to stop using sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 on our public lands,” said Wayne Pacelle, Executive Director, the Humane Society Legislative Fund.” These two poisons are highly lethal but completely indiscriminate. They endanger children, beloved family pets, grizzly bears, wolves and bald eagles alike. And the deaths they cause are violent and inhumane.”


Compound 1080 is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless poison with no antidote. Although the EPA banned Compound 1080 in 1972, after intense lobbying from the livestock industry, it was re-approved for use in the “Livestock Protection Collar” (collars containing the poison that are placed around the necks of sheep and burst when punctured by a predator, barbed wire, or other sharp object) in 1985. Each of these collars contains enough poison to kill 6 adult humans.

Sodium cyanide is contained within M-44 devices, which are spring-activated ejectors that deliver a deadly dose of  poison when pulled on. The top of the ejector is wrapped with an absorbent material that has been coated with a substance that attracts canines. When the device is activated, a spring ejects the poison. The force of the ejector can spray the cyanide granules up to five feet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Wildlife Services Agency regularly uses both of these poisons in their predator control programs, which are subsidized by the taxpayer. States contract with federal predator control programs to keep so-called ‘predator’ populations down to help ranchers protect their livestock.

The use of these poisons has led to the deaths of endangered animals and domesticated dogs, and has injured multiple people in the past. Most recently, three domestic dogs were killed in Idaho and Wyoming and a teenage boy was nearly poisoned after he accidentally detonated an M-44 device.

“The federal government should not be using these extreme measures,” Rep. Defazio added. “It’s time to stop subsidizing ranchers’ livestock protection efforts with taxpayer dollars and end the unchecked authority of Wildlife Services once and for all.”