CONTACTS: SAMUEL POLLOCK OR SARAH HARRIS: 435.725.1070
Roosevelt, Utah—Last week, Samuel Pollock’s hunting trip turned into a nightmare. While hunting rabbits at the popular Bruff Reservoir, Pollock’s companion, Jenna, an energetic two-year-old Labrador retriever and hound mix succumbed to a deadly toxicant. She was poisoned by sodium cyanide, which had been placed on public lands by federal agents.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program, euphemistically called “Wildlife Services” puts out poisons and traps and shoots tens of thousands of mammalian carnivores (especially coyotes).
In 2004, Wildlife Services killed 2.7 million animals considered a “nuisance” to livestock growers and farmers in the U.S. The program receives federal, state, and sometimes county tax funds. M-44s kill wildlife indiscriminately, including federally protected endangered species such as wolves and California condors, and people’s pets.
When Pollock’s dog jerked at the end of a buried stake, a pellet of sodium cyanide shot into her mouth. As the pellet came into contact with moisture in her mouth, it turned into deadly cyanide gas and filled Jenna’s lungs with poison.
Samuel Pollock recalls, “Jenna was just a few feet behind me. I heard her jaws mash together a couple of times so I whipped around. She started gagging, frothing, and then threw up. I saw the M-44 and I knew immediately knew what it was. I held her in my arms. She was terrified and scared, but I was completely helpless. She died in my arms about a minute-and-a-half after she was poisoned.”
Bruff Reservoir, near Vernal, is located on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and is a popular family destination. The entry road was marked with a warning sign, noted Pollock.
In violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), however, no “elevated sign” was “placed within 25 feet” of the “individual M-44 device warning persons”. Also in violation of FIFRA, the M-44 was not “placed at least at a 50-foot distance or at such a greater distance from any public road or pathway.”
“I saw no warnings posted near the M-44 and it was on the roadway itself,” stated Pollock.
Pollock’s partner, Sarah Harris, frustrated by Wildlife Services’ contempt for the public’s safety, stated, “It’s a reservoir. People take their kids and their dogs out there.”
She added, “I cannot believe Jenna is gone. We saved her from the pound when she was about four months old and gave her loving home. She was so smart. She rang a bell when she wanted to go outside; she played football with Sam and even knew certain plays. She was our constant companion. Now my house is so empty.”
In March 1999, a Crawford, Colorado family lost their dog to an M-44, which was negligently placed on their private croplands. Paul and Lee-Ann Wright sued Wildlife Services and were awarded $9,500 in a settlement with Wildlife Services in May 2001. They brought the suit in order to raise awareness, and hoped their action would instill more diligence by Wildlife Services in their poisoning campaigns on public and private lands.
The Wrights were, however, the third family to lose their dog to M-44s in 1999. In May, a couple in Virginia lost their dog, and in December two dogs were killed on state lands in New Mexico during a bird-hunting trip. In 2000, a German Shepard died from an M-44 in Estacada, Oregon, and in 2001, a family pet was killed by an M-44 in Gardner, Colorado.
Harris said, “It’s so terribly sad that Jenna had to die in such a horrible way. All I want is for these poisons to be clearly marked so dogs, children, and families can have safe access to public lands.”
Jenna is buried in Pollock and Harris’ orchard with her favorite football.
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