Wolf Kills to be compensated by State

A $100,000 compensation fund is now available for Oregon ranchers whose livestock or herd dogs are injured or killed by wolves.

The money also can be used to reimburse ranchers for non-lethal wolf deterrence measures they’ve taken or plan to put in place.

The fund, established by the 2011 Legislature, is controlled by the Oregon Department of Agriculture but will be administered on the local level by county committees. Ranchers who have lost livestock or who plan to install deterrence measures such as special fencing must file claims with the committees, which in turn must apply for money on Feb. 15 each year.

News about the funding comes as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that the Imnaha pack of gray wolves killed a yearling heifer last weekend in Wallowa County.

The Imnaha pack, which spread into Oregon from Idaho, is blamed for 19 livestock deaths since spring 2010. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife planned to kill the pack’s alpha male and another wolf, but was stopped in October by the Oregon Court of Appeals. A coalition of environmental groups appealed the kill order and the court issued a temporary stay until it can consider the issue.

To qualify for grant money, counties must form advisory committees made up of a county commissioner, two livestock owners and two people who support efforts to restore the region’s wolf population. Once established, committee members appoint two business people to the group.

Livestock or working dog deaths or injuries must be verified by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The state will help county committees establish a fair market value of the livestock involved.

Compensation also is dependent on where the rancher operates. If the wolf attack takes place in an area such as Wallowa County where wolves are known to be active, ranchers must show they’ve already taken steps to keep their livestock safe. If the verified wolf attack happens in a new area, compensation is automatic.

State veterinarian Don Hansen said counties should form committees even if they haven’t had wolf attacks.

“The whole point is to not lose livestock in the first place,” Hansen said in a news release.

Although the state compensation is new, the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife has paid $1.4 million to ranchers throughout the west since 1987. The group announced it would not compensate Oregon livestock losses after the state established its own program.

The group worked with the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, the Oregon Farm Bureau and Hells Canyon Preservation Council to support the legislation.


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