Cyanide Bomb Planted by USDA Kills Dog, Sprays Boy

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

A family is outraged after their teenage boy was sprayed and their dog was killed by a cyanide explosive planted by the US Department of Agriculture in an effort to kill coyotes. I can't blame them. I would be too. 

Last week, Canyon Mansfield, 14, took his three-year-old lab, Casey, on a walk up the mountain behind their home in Pocatello, Idaho. 

“I see this little pipe that looked like a sprinkler sticking out of the ground,” Canyon told “I go over and touch it. Then it makes a pop sound and it spews orange gas everywhere.”

The orange gas was cyanide, and it sprayed Canyon in his left eye and on his clothing. The boy washed his eye and clothes with snow, but then noticed something was wrong with his dog.

“I look over and see him having a seizure,” Canyon said. “I ran over and he had these glassy eyes. He couldn’t see me, and he had this red stuff coming out of his mouth.”

The teen ran back home to get his mother, Theresa. By the time they reached the dog, it had died. They ran back home, where Theresa called the police and her husband, Mark, who is a medical doctor.

“I hurried home, and the first thing I did was try to resuscitate the dog,” Mark said. “Unfortunately I exposed myself to cyanide and had no idea.”

After several hours and with the help of multiple agencies, emergency crews determined Casey died from exposure to cyanide released by an M-44, which is a spring-activated device that releases the poison when activated by upper pressure or pulling.

The USDA planted the cyanide bomb, also known as an M-44 beside the Mansfield's property line just 300 yards from their swing set, in an effort to kill coyotes. Yet, the department failed to notify the residents of the community that cyanide bombs had been placed in the area. 

“We didn’t know anything about it. No neighborhood notifications and our local authorities didn’t know anything about them,” Mark said. “The sheriff deputies who went up there didn’t even know what a cyanide bomb was.”

Canyon was rushed to Portneuf Medical Center for treatment and his family said they and Bannock County sheriff deputies who responded to their home had blood drawn to make sure they were OK.

On Friday, US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services told this is the first unintentional discharge of an M-44 in Idaho since 2014.

“Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses,” R. Andre Bell, a spokesman for the US Department of Agriculture, said in a statement. “Wildlife Services has removed M-44s in that immediate area … and is completing a thorough review of the circumstances of this incident … to determine whether improvements can be made to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences happening in the future.”

The Mansfields said, as of Friday, nobody from the USDA has contacted them to apologize for the incident. They wonder if other explosives may be hidden in the hills surrounding their home.

“If you plant bombs by our house, just tell us,” Canyon said. “By the grace of God I’m still alive.”

Do you think the USDA should set out M-44's near residential areas in an effort to kill coyotes? 

What would you have done if this had happened to your family?

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