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Group ends program to compensate ranchers

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Compiled By The Daily Press

A conservation group is ending its program to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves, The Associated Press reported.


Photo Courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife has paid out more than $1.4 million for losses from wolves and grizzly bears since the program began in 1987.

In a letter this month to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, group president Roger Schlickeisen said the organization originally planned to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to wolves until state, federal or tribal programs took its place.

“We’ve honored that commitment and have continued to pay compensation across the Northern Rockies and Southwest,' he said.

Now that the federal government has created a wolf- predation compensation program, Defenders of Wildlife is phasing out its predation payments in New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Washington.

Michael Robinson of Silver City, a staffer with the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Daily Press that the Defenders of Wildlife program has been “very generous' and prompt in reimbursing ranchers for predation losses.

Karen Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, disagrees.
“It was generous of Defenders of Wildlife to establish the program,' she said. “But it created a misconception. Not all wolf losses are compensated. This program has been a failure, in our eyes.'

A major problem, according to Cowan, has been that “the level of confirmation (that a livestock death was due to wolves) required was too high for most producers to meet.'

For example, when a calf is killed by a wolf, “there is no carcass left' to provide evidence required by the Defenders of Wildlife program, she explained.

The new federal program “probably is not going to happen in New Mexico' because the state’s budget constraints will not allow it to provide the matching funds to take part in the initiative, according to Cowan.

Robinson countered: “Livestock owners have enjoyed a variety of compensation, and it looks like that is expanding. It starts with grazing fees, which are just $1.35 per month for a cow and calf (on public- land allotments).'

He noted that money from Defenders of Wildlife “is to be held in a federally chartered conservation fund,' and that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service “says livestock owners will decide when a payment is appropriate.'

In addition, the farm bill is funding the U. S. Department of Agriculture to reimburse ranchers for losses to wolves, according to Robinson.

To read the full article, published in the Silver City Daily Press on September 2, 2010, Click Here.

You can submit a letter to the editor of the Silver City Daily Press Here.