POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - "It's been a long and grueling process," Canyon Mansfield said of the process to pass legislation to permanently ban the use of M-44 devices.
Canyon is lucky to be here and it's something he and his family remember every day.
But Mark Mansfield, Canyon's dad, said they refuse to sit back and play victim. Instead, they are taking their experience and using it to make a difference.
One year ago, last March, Canyon was walking his dog Casey near the family's backyard when they accidentally came upon an M-44 device, often called a cyanide bomb. It went off. M-44s are spring-activated devices that release an often deadly dose of sodium cyanide. The bomb near the Mansfield home killed the family dog, Casey, who the Mansfield's say was a big part of their family. Their son, Canyon who was 14 years old at the time, was severely injured.
Since then, the family has worked to pass legislation to prevent this from happening to others.
Thursday night, the one-year mark since the incident, the family invited members of the community to a rally at ISU. Officials from Predator Defense and other animal experts were there to show the movie "Exposed: The USDA's Secret War on Wildlife" as well as answer questions and have a discussion.
The movie "Exposed" is an expose on the dangers of Wildlife Services' predator control methods, including M-44s.
The goal of the movie to educate people about those methods.
“I’ve been working aggressively trying to tell personal stories such as the Mansfield case and other individuals, we’ve dealt with dozens and dozens of cases, and bring them to the light of day," said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense and the creator of the movie. "This is not an isolated incident - it happens all the time. These devices are simply too dangerous to handle, there’s no second chance, and so it’s our position that M-44s need to be banned totally.”
The movie was first released in 2013 and has been shown nationwide since, even gaining the support of Dr. Jane Goodall. Fahy said the film has been shown in the White House where it touched a lot of people. He said the problem is livestock is an important industry so they're hesitant to get rid of M-44s because they think it could hurt livestock.
Canyon suffered physical and emotional effects for several weeks after the incident. He was vomiting and suffered bad headaches every day for a month, also making it hard for him to sleep. He said while his physical health improved, the emotional trauma is something that never really goes away.
“It’s been hard to think about that moment," said Canyon Mansfield. "People have talked about it, teachers recognize me, and it just brings up that moment when I saw my dog convulsing on the ground and it was a really tough moment. I’ve come to peace with it but it still hurts a lot to think about that moment.”
Since last year, the family has worked to push legislation H.R. 1817 "The Chemical Poisons Reductions Act of 2017" - also known as "Canyon's Law" into Congress.
Canyon's Law is a bill that would permanently ban the use of M-44 devices in the U.S. Currently, Mark Mansfield said Canyon's Law is still in committee and has yet to make it to the house floor.
He said the process has been slow, but it's what they expected.
“Washington always has a new issue, they always have something going on," Mark Mansfield said. "There’s always something to replace discussion of Canyon’s Law. So federally, I think it’s been very difficult. We’ve talked to our legislators, nothing big has happened. I'm greedy. I want it done, I want it gone. I want these things made illegal federally. Having said that, I also realize it’s a lot of work and we’re in for the long run”
“More people need to know about it and know that we’re not done and we’re still going to keep pushing to get this through legislation,” Canyon Mansfield said.
Mark Mansfield said locally they have had great support from the community. He said what they would like to see as a possible next step is for the county commissioners to step up and totally ban them in Bannock County. He said in the meantime they will continue to fight for Canyon's Law.
Fahy said there is currently a temporary moratorium on M-44s in Idaho. Wildlife Services must give a 30-day notice before using them again, but he said that moratorium can be lifted at any time so that's why Fahy said their position is to get them banned nationwide permanently.
The full "Exposed" movie can be seen on Predator Defense website here.