April 11, 2017
Online Messenger #350
When Canyon Mansfield and his dog were sprayed with cyanide by a Wildlife Services M-44 “coyote getter” near Pocatello three weeks ago, Western Watersheds Project convened a group of conservationists and animal welfare groups to to draw up a strategy. As part of our strategy, WWP filed an Administrative Procedures Act petition on behalf of ourselves and 19 other groups demanding that the agency to cease the use of M-44s statewide in Idaho, and remove those that were already deployed. Much to our surprise, yesterday we received a letter from Wildlife Services committing to exactly these requests.
Our delight with the statewide ban on M-44s across Idaho is tempered by several factors. The new ban doesn’t bring Canyon Mansfield’s dog back to life, nor can it take away the trauma this 14-year-old boy has experienced as a result of this wildlife-killing device. And it isn’t necessarily a permanent ban – Wildlife Services committed to informing WWP at least 30 days in advance if they ever deploy M-44s in Idaho again, but we don’t know if the reprieve for wildlife and public safety will last a month, a year, or a decade.
In writing the petition and generating the media around it, WWP was able to draw upon a wealth of knowledge assembled over decades by Predator Defense, the organization that leads efforts to ban these devices at the nationwide level. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen and Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad spoke out strongly against M-44s in the media. The Idaho State Journal issued a blistering editorialcondemning M-44s, and journalists across Idaho and throughout the country elevated the tragedy and the need to get rid of M-44s to a nationwide issue. And the Mansfield family themselves had the strength an endurance to bring their personal tragedy into the national spotlight in hopes that what happened to their son would never happen to anyone else’s children ever again.
This is an important, if temporary, victory. But there is a long road ahead. We hope to make the Idaho ban on M-44s permanent, and to see the manufacturing facility and storage depot in Pocatello permanently closed. We are advocating to eliminate the use of the deadly toxin Compound 1080 and its poison baits that likewise kill family pets on an all-too-frequent basis. We are pursuing legal challenges to shut down killing programs of all kinds pursued by Wildlife Services, from aerial gunning to traps and snares, that target our native wildlife for eradication. And we are pressing for federal legislation to end these taxpayer-funded killing programs.
We want to be sure we recognize each one of our conservation partners who joined us in the petition that brought this victory: Predator Defense, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Western Wildlife Conservancy, Nevada Wildlife Alliance, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Environmental Protection Information Center, the Wolf Conservation Center, Wilderness Watch, Klamath Forest Alliance, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, Footloose Montana, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Project Coyote, Voices of Wildlife, and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
But we also want to thank, you, our members and supporters. Without your generous contributions, there would be no Western Watersheds Project to fight these battles. So give yourself a pat on the back, because today you have made a wonderful difference in the world we share with our native wildlife.