New Livestock Loss Reduction & Mitigation Board meets
Members of the Livestock Loss Reduction & Mitigation Board (LLRMB), which oversees Montana’s new wolf depredation reimbursement program, learned about the history of wolf management in the state and drafted administrative rules at its first official meeting Monday, Feb. 11, in Helena, MT.
The new program, which is administratively attached to the Montana Department of Livestock, is designed to reimburse livestock producers for confirmed losses to wolf depredation. Created by legislation passed in 2007, the program replaces a program funded by the Defenders of Wildlife for the past two decades.
“It was a productive meeting,” said George Edwards, Livestock Loss Reduction & Mitigation Program coordinator. “We got the opportunity to meet one another and learn about where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
Edwards commended Defenders of Wildlife for conceiving the program in the early 1990s, and for a $100,000 grant from its Bailey Wildlife Foundation Wolf Compensation Trust to get the new program started.
“Defenders has done a great job with its program, and we hope to build on that success,” Edwards said. “Defenders has worked hard to forge a strong partnership between Fish, Wildlife & Parks, APHIS’s Wildlife Services and both the livestock industry and wildlife interests, and we hope to keep everyone involved and working with livestock producers.”
Under legislation that created the board, outlined the program’s mission and established funding criteria, livestock owners who suffer losses to verified wolf depredation can submit a reimbursement claim to the board. All claims must be investigated by USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services Division for confirmed and probable livestock losses. Claims can only be paid once wolf depredation is confirmed.
As in the past, the program will also include grants to help livestock producers take proactive measures to prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock and to encourage non-lethal management techniques as funding becomes available.
The same legislation that created the program also created an unfunded $5 million trust fund that Edwards hopes will ultimately fund both the compensation and grant programs.
“We’ll need public and other support in the form of donations, gifts, grants and appropriations to the trust fund to make the program work,” Edwards said. “Based on the program’s past success, we’re optimistic that that kind of support is out there.”
All gifts to the reimbursement program are tax deductible, Edwards added. Donations can be sent to the Montana Livestock Loss Reduction & Mitigation Board, PO Box 202005, Helena MT 59620-2005.
The next step is getting administrative rules for the board and program finalized. Edwards said the draft rules will be published and opened for pubic comment in about a month.
Edwards stressed that the program is a depredation compensation program.
“The reimbursement program is called for in the state’s wolf management plan, but the board won’t get involved in wolf management decisions,” Edwards said. “We leave that to the experts at Fish, Wildlife and Parks.”
To report wolf activity, learn more about wolves in your area or get help with conflict prevention strategies, contact State Wolf Coordinator Carolyn Sime, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department, at 406/444-3242. Additional information about wolf management is also available on the FW&P web site at http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/wolfQandA.html.
To report dead or injured livestock and request an investigation, contact USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services at 406/657-6464.
For additional information about the program, board or trust fund, contact Edwards at 406/444-5609.
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