A Tragic Loss

Some of you may have heard about an incident in Idaho wherein a 14 year old boy was injured and the family pet killed by an M44 or Cyanide Bomb in March of this year.  As is reflected in the Coyote Cam many predator control methodologies have been in place since the early 1930s here in the United States.  However, some of those predator control mechanisms have one problem, they are indiscriminate.  Many iterations of the M44 have evolved but the basic mechanism is still in use.  The M44 currently used by the Wildlife Service utilizes spring launched sodium cyanide with an orange marker while other users in the US contain yellow markers.  The Australian government has requested the device for use there though they asked for sodium fluoroacetate poison.  That request did not identify a specific marker for the Australian devices.  Regardless of which device or where it is in use it is supposed to be obviously signed in order to prevent human exposure!

In the above case of the teenager and his dog, the investigation conducted by the local sheriff and reported on by local media does not reflect warning signage was in use. The orange marked powder dusted both the teen and dog which suggests the device was a Wild Life Service authorized deterrent.  The M44 tripping or trigger assembly is designed to prevent exposure to non-canines, it must be bitten and tugged / pulled upward to activate the spring launched contents.  The M44 is designed to project the cyanide powder upward into the mouth of the predator where upon the moisture inside the recipient’s mouth causes the formation of cyanide gas.  The article describing the pet loss suggests the Labrador ingested cyanide gas but implications were that the dust was wind born.  However and somewhat in contradiction to above published M44 guidelines, the area adjacent to the M44 may have been coated with the cyanide dust which required decontamination as happened to the victims and first responders.  Every thing that was used to respond to the incident had to be decontaminated though no one has told the family how to deal with the teen’s clothes.  On another point, the teenager told reporters that his Labrador was “frothing from his muzzle while issuing guttural sounds.” His dog went into seizures then lay still said the youngster.  Not quite what the M44 published guideline’s describes as a quick, painless death.  The state of Idaho and certain other states have discontinued the use of M44s for predator control as of this posting.

The M44 is an efficient though not necessarily inexpensive solution to the larger problem of livestock predation. Used properly the M44 has a good record doing the job it was designed for.  National Geographic states, “In recent disclosure forms Wildlife Services reported that out of 76,963 coyotes killed in 2016 for livestock protection, 12,511 were felled with M-44s. Another 30,000 were gunned down by sharpshooters from fixed-wing planes and helicopters, and 15,000 more died in choking neck snares.” How important is predation to just the cattle industry?  If only half of the recorded number of coyotes killed (76963 / 2 = 38,481) killed one weaned calf costing $1,035.00 (2015 prices) each the cost to the cattle industry alone would be $39,828,352.00.  No matter which industry is considered $39.8 Million is a staggering loss!  Some states have legislated against “Coyote Hunting Contests” but when compared to the costs of allowing hunters to terminate predators as opposed to using mechanical devices.  The hunters appear to have a lower overall cost per coyote exterminated and  . . less likely to indiscriminately kill a family pet.

Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam

* http://idahostatejournal.com/news/local/pocatello-boy-watches-family-dog-die-after-cyanide-bomb-explodes/article_d0003a2f-6b7f-5d31-b427-68db03d3b93a.html

**https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/wildlife_damage/content/printable_version/fs_m44_device.pdf

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