Wolf fund needs to be reauthorized

By Observer editorial December 19, 2012 10:21 am

Gov. John Kitzhaber needs to keep his promise and reauthorize $100,000 for the 2011-2013 biennium for the wolf-livestock compensation fund.

Wolves still roam the mountains. Cattle and sheep still graze in the meadows. Yet the Wallowa County’s wolf-livestock compensation fund is out of money.

Wallowa County Commissioner Susan Roberts said the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife told her six animals remain uncompensated, five from Wallowa County and one from Baker County. If the governor’s budget is passed, another $100,000 will be available for the statewide fund as of July 1, 2013.

Ranchers need to be compensated promptly for livestock losses that were confirmed wolf-caused by the ODFW. Ranchers must prove they have used nonlethal deterring measures to qualify for the program.

Before the state stepped to the plate, Defenders of Wildlife was still funding wolf-livestock interaction compensation. Defenders ended funding for Oregon ranchers in September 2011 just after the state law was signed. Oregon adopted a wolf management plan in 2005, and since then wolves have made inroads into resettling the wild regions of the
state leading inevitably to conflicts with livestock producers.

The $100,000 of state and federal funding is for the entire state. More than a third of the money, however, was spent in Wallowa County alone, where most of the livestock losses have occurred.

Wallowa County is home to four wolf packs, Umatilla County is home to two packs while two wolves were found shot dead in Union County in 2010 and 2011. 

As long as livestock losses to wolves continue, the wolf-livestock compensation fund needs to be adequately funded, and the state should ensure prompt payment to ranchers.