M-44It’s disheartening that I feel compelled to write this. Likewise, it’s disheartening that after 40 years I’m still marching for the environment, animal welfare, and ultimately human welfare. I must admit that I’m having a bit of trouble with the human welfare part. It’s baffling to me that many humans don’t seem to understand the connection we have with animals, all animals. It’s our responsibility to protect other species as well as ourselves, and if we don’t protect our environment, nothing else will matter.

Just as I was beginning to feel that there was a delicate bubble of elusive hope forming, I learned of yet another senseless weapon of mass destruction, supported by Wildlife Services.

Utah is one 14 states that condones placement of the M-44 device, which houses cyanide gas on public lands. The deadly toxin is readily absorbed into the lungs, causing asphyxiation.

M-44s are not selective. They have killed 13,208 animals, including hundreds of non-target species such as foxes and dogs. One killed Canyon Mansfield’s dog, Casey. One also killed Molly and Abbey in Wyoming. Disheartening and tragic.

Mansfield was walking Casey on a hillside behind their home in Pocatello, Idaho when they encountered the bomb. When it exploded, the boy was knocked onto his back, and the dog was killed. The bomb was placed by an individual with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a predator-control device used to kill coyotes. Casey was covered in cyanide when found. Read more about the incident here.

I can’t help but think of my own pets who have hiked with me throughout the years, often on BLM land. Putnam, Bear, Sashi, and Forrest loved to accompany me when I trekked through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the world. The stunning red rock interspersed with juniper and sage never got old. We loved to explore the many different options available to us in this area of the country. Tess and I still explore as we are fortunate enough to have easy access to miles of BLM land. However, I now know of the dangers of traps, and now poisons, that pose a threat to our well being and that of the many animals we share our planet with. It is devastating and disheartening to think that one of my beloved dogs could have encountered such a horrific and cruel device.

It is unthinkable but unfortunately not surprising that M-44’s are being used in Utah. I often feel that our legislators have no problem with the “collateral damage” that occurs in pursuit of increased growth and revenue. They are playing God to appease their supporters. I hope God is taking notes. In the meantime, it’s up to those of us who find these policies unacceptable to hold the perpetrators accountable.

I am praying for a thought revolution or a new awakening but will settle for changing some collective minds. I’m hoping that a MOAEB (Mother Of All Enlightening Bombs) will drop on our legislators. It’s disheartening to think that there is such utter disregard for all life. I’m still angry over the fact that Utah legislators voted “yes” to killing hibernating animals and baiting, trapping, and killing unsuspecting wildlife on Alaskan refuges.

Meanwhile, I urge concerned citizens to make your voices heard. Please let your legislators know that it is not OK to spend your tax dollars on deadly poisons that harm people, animals, and the environment. It’s disheartening to think that everything we value is under attack and no one cares. Just saying.

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