Family’s Dog Was Just Killed By This Tool — And The U.S. Government Put It There

https://www.thedodo.com/usda-m44-kills-idaho-dog-2322197701.html

“It took my dog’s life — and it could have taken my son’s.”

A boy and his dog, Casey, were taking a walk near their home in Pocatello, Idaho, on March 16 when the unthinkable happened.

The boy, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield, noticed something sticking about half a foot out of the ground. When he touched it, there was a pop and a “siss” and orange powder shot out.

Canyon jumped back in shock. When he looked for his loyal dog, Casey, he saw him on the ground.

Casey, a 3-year-old dog who was killed by a cyanide device set out by the USDATheresa Mansfield

“He just stayed on the ground mumbling,” Canyon told the Iowa State Journal. “I thought he was playing with his toy, but I saw the toy a couple yards away from him … So, I called him again and got really scared.”

Canyon rushed toward him and held him, seeing something was terribly wrong. “[I] saw this red froth coming from his mouth and his eyes turning glassy,” he said.

He ran down the hill for help and, when he and his parents returned a few minutes later, Casey was dead.

Later the family would discover that their 3-year-old dog had been poisoned by an M44, a cyanide trap that is set out by the U.S. government to kill coyotes, luring them through scented bait.

“M44s are incredibly dangerous by nature of what they are,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, a nonprofit based in Eugene, Oregon, told The Dodo. “They put a scent lurer — like urine from a coyote in her heat cycle or another smell that makes the animal want to grasp the M44 head — and any coyotes, wolves, are attracted to it. They pull on it and that’s when it goes off.”

Casey and Canyon Mansfield were best friends.Theresa Mansfield

“With children and people — they are curious,” Fahy cautioned. “It’s like putting a loaded handgun on a table.”

Casey is among the latest victims of the thousands of animals unintentionally killed by Wildlife Services, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that kills millions of wild animals each year to make more room for human industries like raising livestock. Over 3,400 animals were mistakenly killed by M44s between 2006 and 2012, including black bears, bobcats, raccoons, opossums, ravens and foxes, as well as dogs — and that’s just what the agency has reported. Fahy suspects the actual number is even higher.

Cyanide poisoning strangles cells, making it impossible for them to absorb oxygen, essentially suffocating any animal — intended or unintended — to death.

There was little time to grieve Casey at the moment he died — Canyon had to save his own life. His father, a physician, and his mother had him take off his clothes, which were covered in orange powder. He was rushed to the emergency room for tests. Thankfully, the family believes Canyon was upwind from the poison powder. He’s alive, but he’s traumatized.

“My son Canyon, who witnessed it all, is really struggling with what happened,” Theresa Mansfield told The Dodo. “It was above our house. It makes me not feel safe. I feel like I had terrorism in my own backyard, with my own government.”

The spot where the M44 was planted and where Canyon would often take Casey for walksTheresa Mansfield

The Mansfield family had no idea the devices where there, just about 350 yards from their home, at the edge of their property line. And they weren’t the only ones — even the county sheriff didn’t have knowledge of these devices, or just how dangerous they are. The Mansfields say there also weren’t even any warning signs and they were never notified about the presence of the M44s. It was later reported that two M44s, including the one that killed Casey, were planted in this area near the Mansfield’s house on February 25.

“APHIS’ Wildlife Services confirms the unintentional lethal take of a dog in Idaho,” a spokesperson for the USDA said in a statement last week. “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.”

The agency claims it has removed the other M44s in “that immediate area,” while conducting a review of the incident.

When The Dodo asked whether the USDA would issue an apology to the family, a spokesperson replied: “We are concerned about the individual who may have been exposed to sodium cyanide when his dog activated the M44 device. Initial reports indicated he was examined at a local hospital and released with no symptoms, and we are hopeful those reports are true. We will consider this possible exposure very seriously as we conduct a thorough review of this incident.”

“It’s something so close to my house, and it took my dog’s life,” Theresa said. “And it could have taken my son’s.” Now Theresa is hoping that their story will help make the M44s illegal. “It’s a brutal way of killing something.”

The M44 device that killed CaseyTheresa Mansfield

While the Mansfield family has only just learned, in the hardest way, about these devices, some people have been fighting to ban M44s for years. And a mere investigation into this latest incident simply isn’t sufficient, they say.

“This is another demonstration of what we’ve been saying for decades — the dangers of M44s are essentially landmines waiting to go off for a dog, endangered species or a child,” Fahy said. He estimates that hundreds, even thousands, of dogs have been killed by these devices. “This happens all the time.”

U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced a bill in the past seeking to make these devices illegal — and it’s expected, given the recent slew of accidental deaths, that he’ll keep trying. “I have been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of devices like the M44 for decades,” DeFazio said in a statement recently. “The use of this device by Wildlife Services … has previously killed domestic dogs, and sooner or later, will kill a child.”

An old photo of Casey leaning in for a hug from his favorite boyTheresa Mansfield

While the USDA claims that a dog dying from an M44 is a relatively rare occurrence — the last time an animal in Idaho died from an M44 accidentally was in 2014 — there’s doubt that the supposed benefits outweigh the risks, especially since killing predators to control populations doesn’t necessarily even work.

“M44s are a terrible device for killing coyotes by cyanide poisoning, which is a nasty and sickening way to die,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Dodo recently, after a rare wolf in Oregon was killed by the device. “They should be banned both because they are indiscriminate, killing this wolf as well as often pets and animals, and because killing coyotes in this and other manners is totally ineffective.”

Last year alone, Wildlife Services intentionally killed 76,859 coyotes; 12,511 were killed by M44s. That’s an average of 34 M44s intentionally exploding per day. At least seven pets or livestock were killed by M44s last year, though the USDA doesn’t specify what kinds of animals they were. Twenty-two dogs the agency claims were “feral, free-ranging and hybrids” were also killed.

Another example of what an M44 planted in the ground looks likePredator DefenseJust days before Casey was killed, two other pet dogs were also killed by an M44 in Wyoming on March 11, though the USDA claims this was not one of their own devices. In either case, Fahey says the tools should be banned. “Bottom line, this device needs to go — immediately,” Fahy said.

Until the device is banned, others remain at risk, and the Mansfield family is trying to cope with their loss any way they can. The clothing Canyon was wearing when the M44 exploded is still in a bag outside their house, a constant reminder.

“We’re not coping very well. We’ve been really sad,” Theresa said, adding that she blames the USDA for not taking full responsibility for just how dangerous M44s essentially are. “I feel like they don’t care about that it’s a bomb and they’re probably worried about being in trouble, but they’re not willing to change that these things are bombs. They could hurt kids and little dogs. And there’s no explanation. That’s the thing that’s hard.”

Predator Defense“Our Casey was so important,” Theresa said. “He was everyone’s dog, he was my little boy’s best friend, my daughter’s running buddy.”

“I think in a way, you just feel violated,” she added. “We didn’t even know anything like that existed.”

Casey and Canyon’s dad. The dog was well-loved by the whole Mansfield family.Theresa Mansfield

To help protect pets and wildlife from these poisonous tools, you can contact your representatives to support legislation to ban these devices. You can also donate to Predator Defense.

USDACorrection: This article has been updated to reflect that bait on M44s can be many different attractants, not just the urine mixture.

Groups want summary judgment in wolf lawsuit

Environmentalists trying to stop federal agency from killing wolves in Idaho

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By ERIC BARKER of the Tribune 6 hrs ago 0

Environmental groups have filed a motion for summary judgment in their case that seeks to stop the federal Wildlife Services agency from killing wolves in Idaho.

According to the lawsuit, the small agency has killed dozens of wolves in the state’s Lolo zone in each of last six years at the behest of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and its efforts to aid elk herds there. The agency also has acted in concert with the state to kill wolves that prey on livestock.

The Boise-based Advocates for the West argued that the federal agency – even when acting at the request of the state – must follow the National Environmental Policy Act. The 1970 law requires the federal government to study and publish the environmental consequences of its proposed actions and to consider viable alternatives

Advocates of the West Executive Director Laird Lucas said the agency has based its wolf control actions on a 2011 environmental assessment that he argues is outdated and falls short of essential details, such how many wolves would be killed, when and where the control might take place and what the ecological effects would be.

The lawsuit also argues the 2011 assessment is out of date because it relied on a population objective in a state wolf management plan that was changed even before the assessment was complete, and that a more lengthy and detailed environmental impact statement is needed to fully consider the effects of the agency’s wolf killing program.

The lawsuit asks federal district court judge Edward J. Lodge to require the agency to set aside the environmental assessment and require the agency either expand its study or to update it.

“We have this secretive agency trying to operate outside of the public eye,” Lucas said. “Many people in the public really care about wolves, and that is the point of (the National Environmental Policy Act) – to publicly disclose what you are doing.”

The lawsuit was filed in June by the Friends of the Clearwater, Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Predator Defense.

The federal government has not yet responded to the request for summary judgement that was filed Friday. If the environmental groups were to prevail, it would make it much more difficult for the state to manage the size of wolf packs in remote areas like the Lolo Zone.

Last year, Wildlife Services employees in helicopters shot 20 wolves in the Lolo Zone. A similar number of wolves was killed there in the three previous years. Idaho’s predator management plan for the Lolo Zone, north of the Lochsa River, calls for a 70 to 80 percent reduction of wolf numbers. In 1989, the department estimated the area had about 16,000 elk. A 2010 survey estimated the herd had dropped to 2,100 animals. The state agency is counting wolves in the Lolo Zone again this winter.
http://lmtribune.com/northwest/groups-want-summary-judgment-in-wolf-lawsuit/article_3ed65c8a-912f-5205-9d96-7534522e0aeb.html

Even Idaho has laws against Wolf Hunting and Trapping



With Idaho Fish and Game winter feeding big game in areas of southern Idaho, hunters are reminded that mountain lions and gray wolves may not be hunted or pursued within one-half mile of any active Fish and Game big game feeding site.  In addition, wolves cannot be trapped within the same distance. 

Additional details on seasons and rules for wolf hunting and trapping, as well as mountain lion hunting rules can be found in the 2015 & 2016 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure available at all Fish and Game license vendors and online at https://idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/rules/big-game.

copyrighted wolf argument settled

Wolf that escaped from Idaho wildlife park killed by owner

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A wolf that escaped from a drive-thru wildlife tourist attraction in southeastern Idaho has been shot and killed by the owner of the business, Idaho officials said.

Courtney Ferguson, the owner of Yellowstone Bear World near Yellowstone National Park, tracked the wolf through snow and shot it about an hour after it escaped from the facility that also has bears, elk, bison and deer.

“Courtney saw the tracks in the snow, tracked the wolf down and shot it,” Doug Peterson of Idaho Fish and Game told the Standard Journal in a story published Monday. “He took care of it all by himself and relatively quickly and easily.”

Peterson said the wolf was owned by Ferguson so the state’s hunting rules did not apply to the killing of the wolf.

“The wolves we hunt belong to the citizens of Idaho,” Peterson said. “This particular wolf of Courtney’s belonged to him.”

All the animals at the facility that is now closed for the winter were born and raised there, the company said.

Yellowstone National Park has drawn a record of more than 4 million visitors this year, many hoping to spot wolves and grizzly bears in the wild. Ferguson’s wildlife park sits on one of the major routes into the park, with a selling point that visitors can see the animals up close.

“It’s a different setting than the park but they do get to see what those animals look like,” said Jim White, regional supervisor for Idaho Fish and Game.

Yellowstone Bear World operates with a license issued by the Idaho Department of Agriculture and its animals are permitted by Idaho Fish and Game.

White called the escape of the wolf “an unusual, isolated incident.”

Ferguson did not immediately respond Tuesday to telephone and email messages seeking comment.

Hunting stops growth in Idaho’s wolf population

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Published on November 28, 2016 11:49AM

A gray wolf. Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.

COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
A gray wolf. Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.


BOISE — As hunting is resulting in a slow but steady decline of Idaho’s wolf population, a Boise State University poll taken earlier this year showed strong statewide support for the hunting of wolves.

Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.

It peaked at 856 in 2009, the first year Idaho allowed hunters to take wolves, before a lawsuit that resulted in the animals being put back on the endangered species list halted that hunting season.

Since wolves were permanently delisted and hunting resumed in 2011, the population has slowly declined and was 786 at the end of 2015.

“The overall wolf population has stabilized since state management [and hunting] began in 2011,” said Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler. “That’s when that 30-40 percent population increase we were seeing annually stopped.”

A poll taken in January shows support for the hunts.

“Our … survey showed it’s not popular to be a wolf in Idaho,” said Corey Cook, dean of BSU’s School of Public Service, which conducted the poll. “People didn’t express a lot of support for wolves.”

The phone survey of 1,000 Idahoans was conducted in all regions of the state and the results — strong support for wolf hunting — were the same.

The poll results showed that 72 percent of people surveyed supported wolf hunting while 22 percent opposed it.

Fifty-one percent of respondents strongly supported wolf hunting compared with 13 percent who strongly opposed it.

Even in Boise, Idaho’s main urban area, 64 percent of respondents favored allowing hunters to take wolves while 28 percent opposed that.

The poll results show that Idahoans understand hunting is an important wolf management tool, said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation spokesman John Thompson.

“It certainly is a good thing to hear,” he said. “You certainly wouldn’t expect to find that (support) in some of the other states that wolves are moving into.”

After wolves were re-introduced into Idaho in 1994 and 1995, the animal’s population grew rapidly, expanding at a rate of 30-40 percent annually.

Hunting has stopped that growth.

“We’re getting over the honeymoon period (and) people see hunting as a good tool in the management toolbox,” Thompson said.

While wolf hunting has been successful in controlling the animal’s population in Idaho, IDFG numbers show that wolves are getting smarter when it comes to avoiding hunters.

During the 2010-2011 hunting season, Idaho’s first full year of wolf hunting, 181 wolves were killed by hunters. That number rose to 376 the next year but has declined each year since then, to 319 and then 303 and 249 last year.

So far this season, 154 wolves have been killed by hunters in Idaho.

When it came to state efforts to reduce the wolf population, support was solid but a little less favorable than for hunting.

When told that Idaho lawmakers approved spending $400,000 annually to reduce the state’s wolf population, 56 percent of people surveyed supported state efforts while 38 percent opposed them.

OR man poisons wolves

http://www.mtexpress.com/news/environment/man-pleads-guilty-to-wolf-poisoning/article_6a23a02a-9197-11e6-9c69-33ba6422ac80.html

Oct 14, 2016
    A central Oregon resident has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to placing poison on a deer carcass in the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness that caused the death of a wolf and a dog.
According to a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Tim Clemens entered a guilty plea Tuesday, Oct. 4, to one count of poisoning animals and one count of unlawful take of big game.
    Fourth District Magistrate Lamont Berecz sentenced Clemens to 10 days in jail, 200 hours of community service in lieu of an additional 20 days in jail, and four years of probation, during which time he cannot hunt. The court also ordered Clemens to pay $675 in fines, court costs and community service insurance, $400 in civil damages for the big game animal killed and $10,000 in restitution to Idaho Fish and Game for investigative costs.
    Fish and Game reported that the charges were the result of an investigation launched in January after conservation officers received a citizen report that two dogs had been poisoned in the Brush Creek drainage of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River during the previous fall hunting season. Brush Creek flows into the lower Middle Fork from the west at the Flying B Ranch.
    A veterinarian confirmed that one dog had died from poisoning and a second dog had survived after treatment for poison symptoms. Interviews of the dogs’ owner and others tied the incident to a field-dressed deer carcass.
    After winter snows receded, Fish and Game officers were able to access the remote area to gather evidence. Sample results from a wolf carcass that the officers found near the site confirmed that it had ingested poison, and sample results from the poisoned dog matched the deer carcass.
    Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler said in an interview that investigators were able to work with people who knew where animals had been killed by hunters in that area.
“[The investigators] were able to find the various kill sites and take samples,” Keckler said.
Valley County Prosecutor Carol Brockmann stated that the complex investigation involved multiple interviews in two states and close cooperation between the prosecution and Fish and Game.
    According to the news release, Clemens admitted to Fish and Game that he put a small amount of poison on the carcass of the deer he had killed after the meat was removed.
    “We don’t know what he was targeting,” Keckler said.
    Pursuant to a plea agreement, the court granted a withheld judgment. A withheld judgment means that after completing his sentence and probation, Clemens may ask the court to dismiss the charges against him, removing them from his criminal record.
copyrighted wolf in water

70 Wolves Killed in Idaho in 2016

http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/idaho-officials-wolf-depredation-drops-management-working/110688064

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho officials say livestock depredations by wolves appear to have reached a low point, showing that the program is on the right path.

Idaho Wildlife Services Director Todd Grimm says his office killed 70 wolves in Fiscal Year 2016, which ended Oct. 1, 50 of the wolves were tied to livestock depredations. The recent numbers were about the same as during FY 2015 and slightly down from 2013.

Grimm says he believes depredation cases have gotten about as low as they will be.

Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation Administrator Dustin Miller says the state, which recently took over wolf management, has greater flexibility to manage the predators that the federal government did. He says he expects the trend of depredations to stay low.

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CASTLE PEAK, CASTLE LAKE and CASTLE DIVIDE PROTECTED AS WILDERNESS!

 
Castle Peak and Castle Lake, Ernie Day photo, circa 1970.
 
 
In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world — the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. John Muir
A year ago on August 7, 2015, President Obama signed the bill that designated three new Wilderness areas in the Boulder-White Clouds.
They are:
White Clouds Wilderness, 90,769 acres
Hemingway-Boulder Wilderness, 67,998 acres
Jerry Peak Wilderness, 116,898 acres
Total: 275,665 acres
Boulder-White Clouds Council
Box 6313
Ketchum ID 83340

North Idaho wolf pups killed at den; reward offered

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2016/jun/16/north-idaho-wolf-pups-killed-den-site-reward-offered/

Gray wolf pups. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)Gray wolf pups. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game is asking for the public’s help in determining who is responsible for removing and killing young wolves from a den in North Idaho.

The incident occurred in Kootenai County, about 15 miles from Coeur d’Alene, in the Sage Creek drainage, says Phil Cooper, department spokesman.   The incident likely occurred sometime during the week of May 16.

“Fish and Game manages wolves in Idaho as big game animals,” he said.  “There was no open season for wolves in the area when the juvenile wolves were killed.”

Fish and Game officers collected evidence at the scene and are following leads.

Information about the incident can be called in to the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline, (800) 632-5999.

“Callers may remain anonymous,” he said. “A reward is available for anyone providing information that leads to criminal prosecution of the case.”

Wolves kill four hunting hounds in ID

Alpha female mom and pup

Wolves killed four hound dogs valued at several thousand dollars near Moody Bench earlier this month.

Idaho Fish and Game official Gregg Losinski reported that wolves killed the dogs while they were hunting for black bears. The owner had allowed the dogs to run off in search of the bears.

“These were not dogs in a person’s yard or with an individual on a trail. These were dogs that were let loose to track down a black bear and to tree a black bear,” he said.

Wolves prove notoriously territorial and will kill hunting dogs thinking they’re part of a rival pack, Losinski said.

“Wolves don’t see hound dogs as dogs but as other wolves. In their world, they kill the other pack that’s there. It’s not about emotions. It’s about survival. They’re programmed to do that,” he said.

Fish and Game believes the wolves responsible for killing the dogs are part of a wolf group called the White Owl Pack. There’s not much that Fish and Game officials can do about the attacks other than to warn dog owners that there is a wolf population.

“All we can do is alert people that Idaho is a wild place. When you go out there, things happen. Hopefully you’re in control,” he said. “If you know there’s wolves in the area, we encourage hunters not to release their dogs in the area.”

If a dog owner caught a wolf attacking his pet, the owner is within his rights to shoot the wolf. But you can’t just shoot a wolf unless it is hunting season. The state gives residents the chance to do that by summer’s end. It’s allowed wolf hunting for the past five years.

“Depending on where you’re at, you can harvest five wolves through hunting and five through trapping,” Losinski said.

The wolves’ hide is often highly sought after, he said.

“The pelt of the wolf is in its prime during the winter and is a desirable pelt on people’s walls,” Losinski said.

It’s often difficult to successfully hunt and kill a wolf, but that’s what often motivates sportsmen, he said.

“Hunting is oftentimes not about food but for the sport of it,” he said.

Right now the state is in the middle of black bear hunting season. Wolf hunting starts Aug. 30.

In the meantime, Losinski urged hunters to be cautious.

“Do your homework. If you hear wolves, it is not advisable to release hound dogs in that area,” he said.

Losinski also warned that another wild animal, the grizzly bear, will run after dogs if they don’t kill them first.

“Grizzly bears pursue hound dogs. They chase them back to their owners. Black bears will tree,” he said.

Losinski likens the situation to someone fishing for minnows, knowing perfectly well that there’s a shark nearby.

“It’s about situational awareness. Think about where you’re at and what you should do,” he said. “It’s all part of the sport and knowing what you’re getting into.”