Washington, D.C.- Ranchers who lose livestock to wolf depredation in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming may be eligible for reimbursement from a fund of $1 million established in part by the efforts of Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch. Idaho's Senators included language in the recently-passed Omnibus Public Lands Bill (Public Law 111-11) to establish the Wolf Livestock Demonstration Project. The Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies has set aside $1 million for payments under the program.
"With state and local officials now in control of wolf management in Idaho, the next step is to ensure that ranchers are justly compensated for losses due to wolves," Crapo said. "Just last year, federal agency officials were able to document nearly 400 confirmed and probable losses in Idaho related to wolves-the worst year on record related to wolf depredation since the wolves were brought back to the state."
"It was the federal government, not Idaho that reintroduced wolves to our state. With an ever-increasing wolf population it is only appropriate that we use money from the federal budget to cover the negative impacts of that reintroduction," said Risch. "The burden of wolf management should not be borne by the state and our livestock industry."
Ranchers had been compensated by the Defenders of Wildlife for wolf losses, and Defenders has now announced that it will continue depredation payments during a court appeal over the delisting of wolves under the Endangered Species Act. Under the Crapo-Risch request, the Idaho Office of Species Conservation could eventually take over claims under the program and would receive $100,000 to implement the program
In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, Crapo and Risch wrote: "The State of Idaho has made the commitment to manage and maintain a healthy and self-sustaining populations of wolves within its borders; however, the State needs the resources to ensure the burden of wolf management is not borne by our livestock industry. Funding this project would greatly aid our efforts." The appropriators agreed and included the funding in the appropriations legislation.
Final approval of the funding will be achieved if it is included in the overall Interior Appropriations bill expected to be considered by the full U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives later this year.