Congress eyes compensation
by U.S. Senators Tester & Barrasso press release
April 18, 2008
U.S. Senators Jon Tester, D-Mont., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., teamed up to introduce legislation that would compensate livestock owners whose animals are killed by wolves.
The bipartisan plan is a response to the federal government’s March 28 decision to remove gray wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho from the Endangered Species List—a decision that handed wolf management to the states. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the gray wolf population in Montana and Wyoming has recovered since their introduction to Yellowstone National Park in 1992.
Tester’s and Barrasso’s legislation, called the Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act, would authorize federal money for state trust funds to reimburse livestock owners whose animals are killed by wolves.
In Montana, the federal money would boost a newly formed livestock loss fund, which will repay Montana ranchers the full market value of killed animals. The program, created as part of Montana’s wolf management plan, began accepting claims just yesterday.
The Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act would also allow federal grants for states to help lower the risk of wolf kills by improving fencing and grazing practices, using guard dogs, and other means.
“It’s time for the federal government to step up and compensate for any losses caused by wolves in Montana,” Tester said. “Ranchers already deal with a lot of challenges like weather, disease and changing markets. They can’t afford to worry about additional challenges like hungry wolves.”
“The federal government put these wolves in Wyoming and Montana,” Barrasso said. “This bill will make them take financial responsibility for the damage they cause.”
Approximately 1,500 gray wolves now roam across Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.