A coyote attacks a lamb. The Oregon Senate has passed a prohibition against coyote-killing contests.

A bill prohibiting coyote-killing cyanide devices in Oregon was passed 25-3 by the Senate on March 18, about two years after lawmakers stopped them from being deployed with state funds.

Senate Bill 580 bans the use of M-44s and other contraptions that rely on cyanide to control predators but which critics fault for also endangering pets and their owners. Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said M-44s have continued to be deployed in Oregon despite a 2017 budget provision that blocked state general funds from paying for the devices.

State and county governments commonly dedicate money to predator control activities performed by USDA’s Wildlife Services, whose agents are allowed to deploy M-44s.

Of the 77,000 coyotes killed by the federal agency in 2016, about 16% died from the cyanide traps, Prozanski said, citing USDA data.

The devices are known to impact humans and companion animals, such as the Idaho teenager who was poisoned and whose dog died after encountering an M-44 in 2017, he said.

“The unfortunate part is it’s not discriminatory as to who or what it’s going to kill,” Prozanski said.

The devices are known to be deployed in a manner that’s “clandestine” and “not transparent,” which can endanger emergency first responders, he said.

Nobody spoke against SB 580 during the Senate’s floor session, but the proposal is opposed by the Oregon Farm Bureau, which argues M-44s are highly regulated and used sparingly. During a legislative hearing on the bill, a representative of the Farm Bureau said the devices are needed for tough terrain and inclement weather.

However, proponents of the bill argued that existing restrictions haven’t been effective, pointing to the hundreds of dogs unintentionally killed by M-44s in recent years.

I've been working at Capital Press since 2006 and I primarily cover legislative, regulatory and legal issues.

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