Although wolf depredation on livestock is infrequent, Defenders of Wildlife maintains a $100,000 Wolf Compensation Trust to reimburse ranchers at fair market value for losses of livestock verified as wolf-caused. The payment announced today consists of $690 paid to a Wyoming rancher for six sheep that were killed by a wolf in February on a ranch near Boulder, Wyoming. Although questions remain about whether the wolf that killed these sheep was a wild wolf or a domestic animal that someone released, Defenders pledged to stand behind its compensation payment regardless of what laboratory tests reveal.
Defenders of Wildlife Rocky Mountain Representative Hank Fischer expressed gratitude to the rancher who suffered the losses. "We appreciate both this rancher's evenhandedness in dealing with the depredation problem and his sincere efforts to capture the animal without harming it. We felt he met us more than halfway."
According to Fischer, "We support the recovery of wolves in the Yellowstone area, but it's not our intent for this restoration to occur at the expense of livestock producers. Our goal is to have wolf supporters take responsibility for problems caused by wolves." Since 1987 Defenders of Wildlife has compensated ranchers for verified livestock losses caused by wolves in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and parts of south Alberta. The organization has paid more than $30,000 to over 30 producers. In each of these incidents, the offending wolves have been controlled and the depredations have been stopped.
Says Fischer, who has administered the program since its inception, "We hope this solid record of responsiveness brings what we seek in exchange: tolerance on the part of ranchers and other members of the public for wolves that do not bother livestock."
He adds, "Although we have consistently acknowledged that wolves sometimes kill livestock, we also maintain that such behavior is uncommon and infrequent. Our experience with wolf depredations in Montana over the past ten years bears this out."
Defenders' Wolf Compensation Trust is a citizen-supported endeavor that receives no government funding. The organization strives to maintain a balance of at least $100,000 in the fund at all times. Those who wish to support the fund should write to:
The Wolf Compensation Fund
1534 Mansfield Avenue
Missoula, Montana 59801
Contact(s):Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270