Montana producers to be paid for losses from grizzly bear depredation

Livestock losses caused by grizzly bears will be covered by Montana’s Livestock Loss Board beginning Oct. 1, according to program manager George Edwards.

“Both of the state’s main predators, wolves and grizzly bears, will now be covered under one program,” Edwards said. “It’ll make things easier for everyone involved.”

Grizzly bears were added by the state legislature at its 2013 session, Edwards said, in a move that was supported by both livestock and environmental organizations. A companion bill to fund grizzly bear depredations, however, was not approved, and payments for livestock killed by grizzlies will come from funding originally allocated for wolf depredations.

The Defenders of Wildlife, which has verbally committed to a $25,000 annual donation for grizzly bear depredations, managed a similar program in Montana for the past several years, Edwards said. One difference between the two programs, he said, is that the LLB will pay 100 percent of verified and probable kills, whereas the DOW program paid 50 percent for probable kills. Otherwise, things should be “pretty much the same,” he said.

“We’re keeping it simple. We’re using the same rules for bears that we do for wolves, we’re even using the same form.”Livestock producers who suspect that they’ve suffered a loss due to grizzly bear depredation should immediately contact USDA-Wildlife Services. A wildlife specialist will investigate, and if the loss is attributed to a verified or probably grizzly bear depredation, the producers may be eligible for compensation from the program.

Animals eligible for compensation are cattle, sheep, horses, mules, goats, swine, llamas and livestock guard animals.

For additional information on the program, such as complete step-by-step instructions on how to request an investigation, see the Livestock Loss Board web site, and follow along with pertinent news on the board’s Facebook page.

–Mt. Department of Livestock