In 2017, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield took a walk with his dog on a hill near his house in Idaho. The pair encountered a small metal rod planted in the ground. It was an M-44, a lethal device containing cyanide.
The device activated on contact, injuring Mansfield and the boy saw his dog die in front of him.
Senate Bill 580, which bans the use of such M-44s to control wildlife in Oregon, has become law. In February the proposed bill passed in a full floor Senate vote 25-3. It passed a floor vote in the House Thursday, April 25, 53-6.
M-44s are sodium cyanide devices meant to keep coyotes and other predators away from livestock. The devices are not marked, so anyone on public lands can inadvertently come across them. Once nudged with a foot or yanked out by a dog’s mouth, the deadly effects are almost immediate.
Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, an organization advocating against the use of such devices since 1990, tells Eugene Weekly, “We’re thrilled that it passed.”
“This could be the tipping point for the other 13 states” that allow the use of these devices, Fahy says, adding that he hopes Congressman Peter DeFazio’s federal Chemical Poisons Reduction Act will pass so the use of sodium cyanide devices will be banned nationally. Sen. Jeff Merkely introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 1301, May 2.
State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, chief sponsor of the Oregon bill, tells Eugene Weekly, “The bill did have bipartisan support.” Oregon, he says, has now become “an example of a state taking action where the federal government has not been able to.”
In a press release by Predator Defense, Fahy says, “We are especially grateful to Sen. Prozanski and Rep.[David] Gomberg for championing this essential public safety bill through the Oregon Legislature.”
Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill into law May 6.