A cyanide trap intended to kill coyotes in eastern Idaho instead killed a dog belonging to a 14-year-old boy and injured the teen as well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Friday that employees of its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services placed the device called an M-44 which activated Thursday near Pocatello and killed a 3-year-old Labrador Retriever named Casey.
“APHIS’ Wildlife Services confirms the unintentional lethal take of a dog in Idaho,” the agency said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Wildlife Services has removed M-44s in that immediate area.”
Federal officials did not reveal how many other traps had been set.
According to Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen, the boy’s father reported that the teen had been covered in an unknown substance and the dog had died.
“Initially, we were just trying to determine what it even was–that was our biggest concern” said Captain Dan Argyle, who responded to the call at about 1 p.m. Thursday. “We have never dealt with these before.”
Argyle reported that the trap was located on top of a ridge about 500 yards from the teen’s home, which is in a foothills area with other homes outside Pocatello.
The teen was taken to a hospital emergency room, examined, found to be without serious injury, and released. He and his family were tested for cyanide poisoning.
“It’s a miracle the child wasn’t seriously injured or even killed,” Argyle said.
M-44s are spring-activated traps typically coated with bait that shoot poison into an animal’s mouth when it tugs on the trap. The federal government uses the devices for predator population control in an effort to curtail losses to livestock owners.
Wildlife advocacy groups and some environmental groups condemn the traps, citing that they can kill non-targeted species.
The teen’s mother, Theresa Mansfield, said her son was walking their dog on a hillside behind their home when they encountered the trap. She reported that her son was knocked down when it activated, and that he watched as the family pet died.
“Seeing something like that stays with you,” she told the Idaho State Journal.
Argyle said the device was located in an area where there is both private and public land and is believed to have been placed on property belonging to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. According to Argyle, sheep graze in the area which is also frequented by hikers, bikers and ATV riders.
“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 Agriculture Department said in the statement.
H/T: New York Post
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