For Immediate Release

March 21, 2017

Contact: 

Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910, emolvar@westernwatersheds.org
Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense, (541) 520-6003, brooks@predatordefense.org
Talasi Brooks, Advocates for the West, (208) 342-7024 x208, tbrooks@advocateswest.org

Pet-killing “Cyanide Bomb” Placed Illegally by Wildlife Services

Agency Promised Public in 2016 that it would stop placing them on Public Lands

BOISE, Ida. — The cyanide bomb that recently killed a family dog in Pocatello, Idaho and poisoned his 14-year-old owner violated government assurances that such poison devices would no longer be used to kill predators on federal public lands in Idaho. A 2016 decision by multiple agencies banned the use of these devices, known as “M-44s,” on all public land in the state.

“The Bannock County sheriff’s department verified by phone with us today that GPS coordinates for the M-44 involved in the incident place the device on Bureau of Land Management land, despite a decision banning the use of these devices on federal public lands,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “It never should have been there at all.”

A plan for killing predators in Idaho on behalf of the ranching industry was signed late last year by Wildlife Services agreeing to discontinue the use of the explosive cyanide devices on public lands. This poison and other toxins, originally banned during the Nixon administration but subsequently reinstated, had been authorized under a national plan that was decades old. Western Watersheds Project and other environmental groups successfully argued that the use of these chemicals for predator control should be reconsidered, which led to Wildlife Services’ decision to reduce their use.

“M-44s and other traps and toxic chemicals that Wildlife Services uses to kill predators are a public safety hazard,” said Talasi Brooks of Advocates for the West.  “If Wildlife Services is putting these devices in places where people recreate or walk their dogs, the public deserves to know about it.”

On other land ownerships, Wildlife Services continues to use cyanide and other poisons at the request of farmers and ranchers to reduce livestock losses. However, these devices are not selective and kill a wide variety of non-target wildlife. Rare species such as lynx, wolverines, and bald eagles, are killed every year. Tragically, the annual list of unintended targets also includes family pets.

“The incredibly dangerous devices kill indiscriminately, and deaths of pets are common,” said Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense. “Unless there are witnesses agencies often don’t record the poisonings. Families are than left to wonder what happened to their dog.”

Last year, agencies spent $99 million in taxpayer dollars to kill 2,744,010 black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, birds, wolves, and other native wildlife species. Almost 77,000 of these animals were coyotes.  Of these, 16% were poisoned by M-44s. There is evidence, however, that killing predators only reduces their numbers temporarily and, in the case of coyotes, may even encourage higher rates of reproduction and dispersal. Non-lethal methods of predator control such as guard animals, loud noises, bright flashing lights, and fencing, may be more successful without the problems associated with lethal control.

“Federal agencies need to stop planting poison land-mines that endanger the public, and asking society to accept cruel and inhumane slaughter of native wildlife simply to subsidize a dwindling livestock industry,” Molvar concluded.

Advocates for the West is a nonprofit environmental law firm that uses law and science to restore streams and watersheds, protect public lands and wildlife, and ensure sustainable communities throughout the American West.
Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to protecting and restoring western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.

Predator Defense is a nonprofit advocacy group working to protect native predators and end America’s war on wildlife.

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15 Responses to Pet-killing “Cyanide Bomb” Placed Illegally by Wildlife Services

  1. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Pet-killing “Cyanide Bomb” Placed Illegally by Wildlife Services
    Agency Promised Public in 2016 that it would stop placing them on Public Lands

    BOISE, Ida. — The cyanide bomb that recently killed a family dog in Pocatello, Idaho and poisoned his 14-year-old owner violated government assurances that such poison devices would no longer be used to kill predators on federal public lands in Idaho. A 2016 decision by multiple agencies banned the use of these devices, known as “M-44s,” on all federal land in the state.

    “The Bannock County sheriff’s department verified by phone with us today that GPS coordinates for the M-44 involved in the incident place the device on Bureau of Land Management land, despite a decision banning the use of these devices on federal public lands,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “It never should have been there at all.”

    As an aside, one of the more visible anti-wolf/ predator posters we have come across had this to “say” about the boy and his parents.

    “reality22
    I’m willing to bet that this boy and his dog were trespassing. The article includes statements from the father and a balance article should have included a statement on this. I’m willing to bet that neighbors of this private property were notified of the devices via direct conversation AND OR signs posted. I’m willing to bet that the rancher has had AND is having serious issues with coyotes.

    It’s sad that there are groups that promote predators to no end…. Groups like Center of Biodiversity and Western Watershed promote unmitigated predator THEN have the audacity to wear the losses of these pets on their sleeve to get their “donate now” buttons pressed. In the US millions of calves will be born in the next couple of weeks. It’s also sad that those groups and their greedy ilk have no compassion for the calves that suffer on of the most heinous deaths of being eaten alive.

    If the sheriff has any common sense a ticket for trespassing should be in order…..if such is the case.”

    Once again he spouts off, without knowing what happened. Analogous to the, ” I thought it was a coyote.” Next time he posts here under any of his “manifestations”, and you choose to enter dialogue with him, please understand with whom you are dealing.

  2. avatar Louise Kane says:

    https://www.outsideonline.com/2151411/trumps-presidency-means-end-wolves-american-west

    very well written in laymen’s term condensed version of the threats facing wolves from the GOP, especially under the GOP. I know the wolves and river video is contentious but the history of persecution and the issues are laid out particularly well for people that don’t have the background some have here. I especially appreciate the story calling out the absurdly low recovery numbers and the persistent attacks on wolves through riders and must pass bills with no judicial review components. It is a vile war that needs to end.

    • avatar rork says:

      Badly written.
      That Big Ag spends money on delisting wolves because they are a big financial burden on agriculture is a fantasy. We here all know the losses are tiny. Knocking down environmental groups, liberals in general, and the ESA itself is closer to the motivation. Also, I think our republican legislators are simply grandstanding to their base of voters – they sure do in MI.
      “killing problem wolves actually leads to a direct correlation in increased livestock depredation” is terrible writing all by itself. And it is pointing to the Weilgus paper as the only evidence, where absolutely no causation is demonstrated, and the correlation itself is not convincing, so the writing is over-the-top as well as mangled.
      If we pass new laws making wolves immune to ESA protections, there is nothing to review judicially about what ESA says about them. Please, if you want little to no hunting or killing of wolves, stop using this argument, cause it makes us look ignorant. Perhaps it is effective on some people, but not fence-sitters.

      • avatar Professor Sweat says:

        “killing problem wolves actually leads to a direct correlation in increased livestock depredation” is terrible writing all by itself.”

        Agreed. Beyond what the conclusions of the Weilgus paper, I’m trying to wrap my head around how that could ever be considered a compelling argument. To the “layman”, it sounds like author wishes he or she have no recourse in the event of a depredation.
        I recently had the displeasure of euthanizing two chickens that had been attacked by raccoon. It came back and killed 3 more after I had left the property. I was so angry, I would have killed the damn thing and nailed it’s carcass to a tree.

        One can’t expect someone on the fence to join your side when you say they just have to sit back and accept a livestock loss. It just sounds so naive and blasé toward people living a more self-reliant lifestyle.

        • avatar Yvette says:

          “One can’t expect someone on the fence to join your side when you say they just have to sit back and accept a livestock loss. It just sounds so naive and blasé toward people living a more self-reliant lifestyle.”

          I usually agree with you, but not this time. I believe I understand your anger and frustration over losing your chickens. I think if I lost chickens in the same way I’d feel as you did. The only ‘livestock’ or ag animals I’ve ever had were horses and I’ve not had them for a long time. I do however, have cats and one dog. If a stray or loose dog were to kill one of my cats or my dog, I know I’d be angry enough to lash out at the attacker, but I would be unable to follow through. I can’t blame a dog for being a dog. I can blame myself for letting my cat(s) outside. I have friends who have chickens here in the city. One of those friends lost one of her chickens because a neighbor’s dog got loose and got into her yard and killed one of her ‘girls’. My friend was devastated. She blamed herself for not having all her girls inside their coup. They might provide eggs but they also become like pets.

          I struggle to agree with compensating the rancher/farmer who is growing animals for food consumption. It is a business. These rancher/business people understand the risks associated with ranching.

          Where do we draw the line with business owners and compensation of losses? Why are we taxpayers the ranchers insurance?If I own a shop and leave it unlocked or unprotected and lose stock I forfeit the loss. If I own cattle and and lose one to a predator, I not only get reimbursed for the value of the animal (double in WY) but I also get to call USDA Wildlife Services to kill the ‘problem predator’. Again, at taxpayer expense. That is only venting my anger toward another animal. It may or may not be the animal that killed my livestock.

          This long diatribe is basically about where do we draw a line on compensation for business losses with known risks? Why does one industry (agriculture) get compensation from taxpayers while most other businesses have to purchase insurance at their own expense.

          I think the killing of predators, especially wolves, is far more about venting anger at an entire species than it is about the capital of a cow. It’s several hundred years in the making.

          • avatar Professor Sweat says:

            Well what your saying just speaks to the lack of nuance to the article, which backs up Rork’s point of it being poorly written. I’m sure your opinions on wildlife management match mine 90-95%, just from previous exchanges and posts. I have no interest in the existence of a government agency with the prime directive of killing predators. We don’t need it, period. I also don’t think letting cattle loose in wolf country and then expecting taxpayers to subsidize the inevitable depredations has any lick of sense to it either.
            Private landowners and livestock operators should be able to eliminate problem predators on their property. My problem with the statement in question, aside from certain assertions, is that it doesn’t leave that window open for a “fence-sitter” who may have those concerns.

      • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

        And it is pointing to the Weilgus paper as the only evidence, where absolutely no causation is demonstrated, and the correlation itself is not convincing, so the writing is over-the-top as well as mangled.
        +++

        Rob Wielgus response:

        “WSU, UW research clashes”
        http://www.dailyevergreen.com/news/article_0c138836-d9cf-11e5-be25-638dfcd15c5b.html

        However, Wielgus is confident in his methodology.

        “As time went on and the years progressed, all these wolves in all these states increased,” Wielgus said. “The number of livestock at risk increased, the number of depredations increased, the numbers of wolves killed increased. They put in year, which is auto-correlated with all those other variables so their analysis found that year had the biggest effect on livestock depredations.”

        He said that by doing this and using time as the control variable they were ignoring a larger issue.

        “Year doesn’t really mean anything,” Wielgus said. “And they found that oh, in addition, the more wolves you kill the fewer livestock depredations you get. Their same analysis showed that the number of wolves has no effect whatsoever on number of livestock depredations, so their analysis was biologically impossible.”

        So because they used year as a control variable, it was auto-correlated with everything, which means that none of the other parameters such as number of wolves and breeding pairs that Wielgus mentioned can be interpreted.

        “None of the UW researchers in this study were biologists, so they have never analyzed this kind of data,” Wielgus said. “Well they re-analyzed my data set and instead of controlling for the number of wolves they put in year as the control variable.”

        Wielgus said the UW researcher knew this was a problem, and he along with other reviewers pointed it out and the UW researchers chose to ignore it.

        “These folks are incompetent amateurs that don’t know what they’re doing,” Wielgus said.

  3. avatar Louise Kane says:

    weeks tired tonight, should read especially under Trump.
    That’s it for me tonight!

  4. No wildlife should ever be killed to accommodate farmers and ranchers, no matter where that wildlife is! There is so little wildlife left to us and we must treasure it and make sure it is there for future generations!!!

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Isabel,
      Most would agree with you, except for those who believe there exist good and bad wildlife.

    • avatar rork says:

      Where there are quickly multiplying herbivores and not enough predators, it’ll be bad for farmers, and bad for the land and other species. A species may not be “bad”, but there can be too many of them at times, and they are the kinds of animals that future generations will not only get to enjoy, but get to continue to control. We could try to balance them out with predators, but that’s not always easy in places that are dominated by humans. If there’s so little wildlife, it’s not too few deer, woodchucks, or coyotes near me – there are tons, and I don’t see that changing.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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