Defenders of Wildlife Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Wolf Compensation Program

Innovative program reimburses ranchers for documented livestock depredation losses to wolves

(01/04/2007) - Boise, ID -- Over the last 20 years, Defenders of Wildlife has paid livestock owners in the northern Rockies nearly $700,000 from The Bailey Wildlife Foundation Wolf Compensation Trust, the first privately funded program to reimburse 100 percent of the market value of verified livestock losses to wolves. Defenders initiated the program to help reduce the economic impact of wolf reintroduction on local ranchers, despite the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reports that less than 1 percent of all livestock mortalities in the northern Rockies have been caused by wolves. Reports issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service show that significantly more livestock are lost to disease, birthing problems, injuries, theft and other predators than wolves.

"The ranching community is a valued partner in our effort to recover the wolf in the American West," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife. "Compensating ranchers for verified livestock losses has made a huge difference in our conservation efforts."

From 1987 through 2006, Defenders paid livestock owners for more than 650 cattle, approximately 1,645 sheep (including mature unborn lambs and deaths from injuries), 35 livestock guarding and herding dogs, 10 goats, 10 horses, six llamas, an alpaca, a donkey and a mule. These numbers also include "probable" losses, for which Defenders pays 50 percent of the market value. These statistics constitute the vast majority of livestock losses due to wolves as catalogued by FWS and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The compensation program also led to the creation of The Bailey Wildlife Foundation Proactive Carnivore Conservation Fund in 1998, which supports the use of non-lethal measures to reduce livestock-wolf conflicts. Preventative animal husbandry practices, including use of multiple guard dogs, electric night pens, fladry fencing, task-specific range riders, and other methods have proved remarkably effective. Defenders pioneered the development of many of these techniques in partnership with tribal and federal agencies, and this year Defenders-funded proactive projects resulted in zero known livestock losses to wolves.

"The single leading cause of wolf deaths is the use of lethal control to stop livestock losses," said Suzanne Stone, northern Rockies representative with Defenders of Wildlife. "Reducing these conflicts helps protect both wolves and livestock from being unnecessarily killed. It is yet another example of how partnering with the local ranching community produces results."

For more information, visit The Bailey Wildlife Foundation Proactive Carnivore Conservation Program.

###

Defenders of Wildlife is a national, non-profit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

###

Contact(s):

Suzanne Asha Stone, (208) 424-9385