photo: Stuart Seeger/Creative Commons
The Oregon legislature has passed a bill that will establish a program under which wolves are protected and livestock owners whose cattle are killed by wolves will be compensated. A deadlock over the law was cleared after three days of closed door meetings between the governor's office, conservationists and ranchers. The Republic sums up the compensation/conservation package:
House Bill 3560 would direct the Oregon Department of Agriculture to establish and implement a wolf depredation fund providing $100,000 to be used for grants to counties dealing with wolf issues. Most of the money would go to paying ranchers, included cases where wolves are not proven responsible. Some would pay for non-lethal protection measures, such as range riders.
Defenders of Wildlife, which has run its own wolf compensation fund in the northern Rockies, calls the legislation "one of the most innovative livestock loss compensation and prevention programs" in the United States.
Defenders' Suzanne Stone provides context: "With fewer than two dozen wolves on the ground in Oregon, it's essential that we pursue all opportunities to maximize their chances of survival. That includes finding better ways for wolves and livestock to share the landscape. Livestock losses on public land are common for a variety of reasons: bad weather, disease, loss and theft to name a few. We may not be able to prevent every single loss, but those ranchers who do their part to minimize the risk of depredation will have less to fear from wolf related losses."