Oregon passes landmark livestock compensation and wolf coexistence bill

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Innovative program will prioritize proactive efforts to reduce conflict

Summary:

  • The Oregon Senate gave unanimous approval for a bill today that will put into place a comprehensive livestock compensation and wolf coexistence program. Gov. Kitzhaber is expected to sign the legislation, which passed the House earlier this week 60-0.
  • Ranchers who proactively use nonlethal deterrents and best management practices to protect their livestock will be eligible to receive compensation payments for subsequent losses to wolves.
  • Passage of this bill signals Oregon’s ongoing commitment to responsible wolf management.
  • Defenders thanks the Governor’s office, the Oregon Cattleman’s Association, legislators, Hells Canyon Preservation Council and others who worked toward this collaborative solution that will reduce conflict and allow wolves and livestock to better coexist on the landscape.
SALEM, Ore. (06/24/2011) -

The Oregon Senate unanimously approved a bill today that will establish an innovative livestock compensation and wolf coexistence program in Oregon to help ranchers protect livestock, aid wildlife managers in conserving wolves, and reimburse ranchersfor livestock losses to wolves. The program is the result of a collaborative effort, including valuable contributions from the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Wallowa County ranchers, the Oregon Farm Bureau, the Governor’s office, Hells Canyon Preservation Council and Defenders of Wildlife.

The following is a statement from Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife, who led the effort for wolf advocates involved in these negotiations:

“Governor Kitzhaber’s leadership was instrumental in bringing together traditional opponents to develop an innovative livestock compensation and wolf coexistence program.  By empowering local communities to address wolf management issues in a responsible and transparent manner, this program may well become one of the best in the country. Wolf conflicts are not impossible to address when using a rational and civil approach.”

“Getting this bill passed required an intense commitment to collaboration among varied interests, including the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, the Oregon Farm Bureau, Hells Canyon Preservation Council and Defenders of Wildlife, showing that it is possible to find common ground among stakeholders on wolf management. When there is a willingness to sit down and work together, we can find practical solutions that benefit all parties. With a little extra planning, Oregon can support both a healthy livestock industry and healthy wildlife populations.

“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.

“Oregon’s Livestock Compensation and Wolf Coexistence bill will create one of the most innovative livestock loss compensation and prevention programs in the country. Ranchers who take proactive steps to minimize potential conflicts between wolves and their livestock will remain eligible to receive compensation for losses. The bill also dedicates at least a third of allocated funds to implementing effective nonlethal deterrents to help ranchers prevent losses to wolves. This ensures that livestock producers are doing their part to protect their animals while giving Oregon’s wolves a real chance of survival.”

Background:

Once the bill is signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber, the new Oregon wolf compensation and coexistence program will go into effect, officially ending Defenders’ long-standing wolf compensation program in the Northern Rockies. Since 1987, more than 900 livestock owners received benefits from this program, which paid out more than $1.4 million through our privately funded reimbursement program to help ranchers adjust to the return of wolves. Last year, Defenders announced the sunsetting of its compensation program and has now turned its focus to helping ranchers adopt effective preventative methods to deter wolves from preying on livestock.

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Links:

Learn more about Defenders program to reduce conflicts between wildlife and livestock

Contact(s):

John Motsinger, 202-772-0288
Suzanne Stone, 208-861-4655

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