Defenders Makes Mexican Wolf Compensation Offer

Group Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is

(06/24/1999) - Defenders of Wildlife today announced that it will compensate an Arizona rancher for livestock losses from Mexican wolves living in the area. Responding quickly to the confirmed depredation on domestic cattle by the recently released wolves, Defenders pledged to work with the rancher to complete payment of fair market value for his losses.

"Our goal is to achieve wolf recovery, not to make ranchers pay for it," said Defenders President Rodger Schlickeisen. "We are committed to ensuring the return of this critically endangered species to its natural habitat, but at the same time, we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is. Defenders will shoulder the burden when these rare incidences occur."

The injured calf in question was discovered by a livestock manager on June 22. The wounds included bites and scrapes consistent with a wolf attack. The calf is expected to recover from the injuries.

This incident occurred in the same area where a week prior, wolf team biologists discovered the mostly consumed remains of two domestic calves and a partially consumed adult cow that died after its hind leg became tangled in a barbed wire fence. Both coyote and wolf tracks were close by, so a definitive cause of death could not be determined.

Considering the June 22 event and that wolves were spotted in the area the previous week, Defenders will be compensating the rancher for one cow, two calves, and either the vet bills or the value depreciation for the injured calf. In addition, Defenders will pay a neighboring rancher the remaining balance for a calf lost in April, but wolf involvement was not proved. Defenders previously paid 50 percent of the fair market value for that April incident because it was thought to be wolf-caused, but conclusive evidence was lacking.

"We hope our solid record of responsiveness brings what we seek in exchange: tolerance from livestock producers for wolves that do not bother livestock," said Schlickeisen.

All incidents occurred on the T-Link Ranch, about 16 miles north of Clifton, Arizona -- most likely the result of the Pipestem pack’s activities. Currently, an interagencey team of biologists is monitoring the Pipestem pack’s movements in the Apache National Forest on a 24-hour basis. The pack, released on March 15, 1999, consists of an adult male and female, a yearling female, and some wild-born pups. Biologist will attempt to haze the pack away if additional conflicts occur, and supplemental food is being provided near the den site. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no immediate plans to move the pack.

"Of particular note here is the rancher’s willingness to work with us," said Craig Miller, Defenders Southwest Rep. "While this particular rancher does not embrace wolf recovery, he has been willing to participate in the investigation and has been very helpful in the process."

"We regret both the loss of livestock and the inconvenience it has caused and are especially appreciative of the precautions that area ranchers are taking to make stock less vulnerable to predation. The current level of fair-mindedness is really appreciated. Even those who are opposed to reintroduction are cooperating, and Defenders is happy to step up to the plate and accept financial responsibility in these instances."

In addition to paying for verified losses to wolves, Defenders recently formalized a Wolf Country Beef labeling program with two ranches adjacent to the wolf recovery area. Under the program, ranchers agree to allow wolf recolonization to occur on their private lands, to eliminate the use of lethal predator control, and to donate a portion of sales to Defenders' livestock compensation trust. In exchange, their beef products bear an "Authentic Wolf Country" label that identifies products from ranchers who are actively working to assist with the recovery of Mexican wolves. The products typically are sold at a premium, paid for by a public that supports wolf recovery. "The perspective that wolves can only be a liability belongs in the last century," said Miller. "We're creating a future that rewards responsible resource management and at the same time ensures a permanent place for wildlife on the brink of extinction."

Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and supporters. Defenders maintains its $100,000 Wolf Compensation Trust to compensate ranchers at fair market value for losses due to wolf predation.



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270