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USDA Responds to M-44 Incident in Pocatello, Idaho

The USDA has issued a statement regarding the incident in Pocatello, Idaho that killed Casey, a 3-year old lab and injured his owner, 14-year old Canyon.  The full statement is as follows:

“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. We are grateful that the individual who with his dog when it activated the M-44 device was unharmed, however, we take this possible exposure to sodium cyanide seriously and are conducting a thorough review of this incident. Wildlife Services has removed M-44s in that immediate area, 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.

This was a rare occurrence. Wildlife Services policies and procedures are designed to minimize unintentional actions with 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 incident 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.

R. Andre Bell
Public Affairs Specialist
United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Legislative and Public Affairs”

Perhaps the most disturbing piece of information that has come out of this report is that since 2009, 100,000 coyotes and at least 230 dogs have been killed by M-44s.  The mayor of Pocatello, Brian Blad, has written a letter to the USDA asking them to cease all production and placement of M-44s in Pocatello.  The USDA claims the “unintentional lethal take of a dog is a rare occurrence.”  In his letter, Mayor Blad said, “one such occurrence is one too many.”  Currently, the USDA has a facility on Dillon and Second Avenue where it has already produced more than half a million M-44 traps.  Neighbors in the area of the M-44 incident are still concerned about the cyanide traps being present and are afraid to take their dogs for walks.

Story from Local News 8 in Idaho Falls.

Story about Mayor Blad letter to USDA.

Letter from Mayor Blad to USDA.

Photo: Theresa Mansfield

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