Washington considers wolf compensation
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
April 30, 2016
The Capital Press reports that Washington wildlife officials are contemplating a policy on lethal control of depredating wolves. One idea is to provide higher compensation for ranchers who exhaust non-lethal preventative measures. That compensation could be as high as five times the market value of confirmed cattle killed by wolves.
The state's current policy is to authorize lethal control after four depredation events, but only when further depredations are anticipated, and when preventative measures have been exhausted. For ranchers undertaking preventative measures, lethal control of wolves could be approved after three depredations.
Although wolves in the eastern third of Washington were removed from federal protection of the Endangered Species Act, while wolves in the western two-thirds of the state remain under federal protection. But all wolves in the state are classified as an endangered species under state law.
Recognizing that all kills are often found when wolves kill livestock, Wyoming has instituted a compensation program that includes a formula to help compensate for these unconfirmed losses of livestock due to wolves. For areas determined to have terrain, topography and vegetative cover that influence the ability to find missing calves and sheep due to wolf depredation, and where wolf depredation has been confirmed, Wyoming will provide compensation for up to seven times the value of livestock lost to confirmed depredations by wolves when other livestock are missing. The state does not offer compensation for more than the total known death loss less the number of such losses known to be due to causes other than damage by wolves.
Agencies involved in Mexican wolf recovery efforts have taken a different approach. In addition to offering compensation for confirmed livestock kills to wolves, the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council offers a program to compensation ranchers for wolf presence on their properties or grazing allotments. Program payments are based on a formula involving scoring parameters for each ranch, and is restricted by funding availability.