Defenders Establishes Grizzly Bear Compensation Fund

(07/11/1997) - Missoula--Defenders of Wildlife today announced that it has established a new fund to pay ranchers for verified livestock losses caused by grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) of the U.S. Northern Rockies in northwestern Montana. Defenders' Board of Directors has authorized expenditures of up to $25,000 until a permanent fund is established. The NCDE includes the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Glacier National Park, adjacent national forest lands and portions of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian Reservations.

Defenders of Wildlife, a national nonprofit conservation organization with more than 200,000 members and supporters nation-wide, has been historically committed to the conservation of large predators. As a leader in the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone and central Idaho, many experts credit Defenders' wolf compensation innovation as a key factor in the success of these wolf recovery programs.

Defenders initiated its Wolf Compensation Program in 1987, and since that time has paid nearly $35,000 to more than 40 livestock producers. Because of the increased landowner tolerance regarding wolves this program has fostered, it received an Environmental Achievement Award from the National Environmental Awards Council.

Defenders' President Rodger Schlickeisen believes, "Having a dependable grizzly compensation fund is arguably even more important for bears than it is for wolves. Grizzly bears have the lowest reproductive rate of any land mammal in the United States, and grizzly populations are extremely sensitive to mortality."

Hank Fischer, Defenders Northern Rockies representative in Missoula, Montana suggests, "Like wolves, grizzlies don't kill livestock very often. But when they do, it can cause hardship for individual ranchers and make them feel like they are being forced to bear the costs of endangered species recovery. Establishing a credible and reliable grizzly compensation program will increase landowner tolerance for bears and significantly improve prospects for recovery of this threatened species." Fischer continued, "Our organization is pleased to assume economic responsibility for grizzlies because our experience with wolves demonstrates it is a practical and effective way to promote conservation."

Defenders hopes to establish a permanent fund of approximately $50,000 to cover livestock losses from grizzlies, which average about $5,000 per year. People interested in supporting grizzly conservation through a contribution to this fund should write to:

Grizzly Fund
Defenders of Wildlife
1101 Fourteenth Street NW, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20005



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270