BEND, Ore. (AP) — Nearly 100 environmental groups are calling for a ban in Oregon on the use of cyanide capsules to control predators like coyotes, foxes and wild dogs that can attack and eat livestock animals, a newspaper reported.
The groups sent a letter this month to state and federal agencies calling the M-44 devices ineffective and dangerous to humans, pets and other animals not being targeted, The Bulletin reported on Monday.
M-44 devices are spring-loaded devices that contain a capsule filled with sodium cyanide that's partially buried in the ground and coated with a substance that's designed to attract canines.
When an animal triggers the device, a lethal dose of sodium cyanide is ejected.
"This is a no-brainer, and I still find it hard to believe that this is still going on," said Brooks Fahy, executive director of the Oregon conservation nonprofit Predator Defense, one of the groups leading the effort.
Idaho and Colorado have banned the devices, but federal wildlife managers say they're critical to controlling predators.
Wildlife Services, a federal program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says coyotes killed more than 118,000 sheep and lambs nationwide in 2015, and livestock owners lost $32.5 million from attacks on sheep and lambs by all predators that year.
The petition notes that Wildlife Services reported 246,985 animals killed by M-44s from 2000 through 2016, ranging from grizzly bears to kangaroo rats to red-tailed hawks.
The devices killed 4,621 animals in Oregon during that time; last year a device killed OR-48, a collared gray wolf living in northeast Oregon.
"Any animal that is attracted to scents is at risk," Fahy said. "What's reported is a small fraction of what's been done."
Wildlife Services stopped using the devices in Idaho after a capsule killed a dog and sent a teenager to the hospital.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says M-44s can't be used in areas where federally protected endangered species may be affected or in national forests that are set aside for recreational use.