Over three years ago, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield and his dog, Kasey, stumbled upon an M-44 “cyanide bomb” while playing near the family’s backyard outside Pocatello, Idaho. The spring-activated device sprays sodium cyanide. It was placed by Wildlife Services, an arm of the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service tasked with protecting livestock through “predator control,” which often involves killing animals such as coyotes. This incident changed their lives forever, resulting in Kasey’s tragic death, a slew of health problems for Canyon, and the lasting trauma of watching his beloved dog die.
Since then, the Mansfield family have been vocal advocates for the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act (also known as “Canyon’s Law”), sponsored by US Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and 19 other members of Congress. HR 2471 would prevent the use of sodium cyanide and sodium fluoroacetate (used in livestock protection collars) in predator management devices nationwide. The Mansfields’ determined efforts recently led to a victory in their lawsuit against the USDA, which agreed to pay them $38,500. Of utmost importance is the fact that the government also admitted negligence in placing the M-44 on public lands. A 2016 environmental assessment stated M-44s were only to be placed on private lands.