Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

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State eligible for $100,000 for wolf damages

USFWS makes matching grants available to Minnesota

Washington – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week
announced that Minnesota was among a handful of states eligible for
funding meant to compensate livestock owners for losses due to
wolves.

In a USFWS press release, the agency said a total of $1 million
in grants will be distributed to 10 states “under a new
demonstration program designed to help livestock producers
undertake proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of
livestock loss from predation by wolves, or to compensate livestock
producers for livestock losses caused by wolves.”

Minnesota was slated to be eligible for $100,000. Neighbors
Wisconsin ($140,000) and Michigan ($90,000) also were on the list.
The remaining seven were Western states, including Montana, Idaho,
and Wyoming, each eligible for $140,000.

Wolf depredation claims the past couple years in Minnesota have
been about $90,000, but there’s been a spike already this year,
according to Geir Friisoe, director of the state Department of
Agriculture’s Plant Protection Division. Already, claims have
exceeded $93,000. Though this is the time of year (when new calves
are born) that most claims are made, the claims total to date still
is disturbing.

“For this time of year, that’s high,” Friisoe said Tuesday.

For a number of years, the state’s General Fund provided
$100,000 to compensate livestock producers for wolf depredation,
and crop producers for damage done by elk. Department of Ag
spokesman Mike Schommer said that was increased to $150,000 last
year.

Still, the federal dollars might prove helpful. They require a
dollar for dollar match, and Friisoe said General Fund dollars
could do just that. The money also could be used by producers to
create non-lethal ways to prevent wolf depredation, but that likely
would be coordinated through the DNR or the federal Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA).

The USFWS hopes the grant funds will help alleviate concerns of
farmers while wolves remain federally protected in the Midwest.
Last year, wolves were federally delisted, but returned to the
endangered species list following a lawsuit from animal rights
groups.

“Wolf populations are expanding in several parts of the nation,
and this grant program gives us another tool to help states
minimize conflict where wolves and human activities overlap,” said
Rowan Gould, acting director of the USFWS, in a press release last
week. “The true value of the program lies in its ability to both
provide compensation to producers and support non-lethal activities
to minimize their livestock losses from wolves.”

Ed Boggess, deputy director for the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife
Division, said it’s likely that, because Minnesota already is
allowed to deal with problem wolves in a lethal manner (a job
performed by the USDA’s Wildlife Services), other states, such as
Wisconsin, received a greater share of the funding pie. In
Minnesota, wolves are federally “threatened;” in Wisconsin, they’re
“endangered.”

In order to make a livestock depredation claim in Minnesota, a
wolf kill must be verified by a conservation officer or a county
law enforcement officer. Then an extension agent must make a cost
estimate. The state Department of Agriculture must approve the
claim.

Wolf depredation claims have grown over the years, first
reaching $90,000 in 2000. Claims dipped to about $45,000 during the
mid-2000s, but have since rebounded, exceeding $95,000 in 2008.

According to the USFWS, the funding allocation was determined by
considering depredation of livestock by wolves, the number of
wolves in each state, and need in each state.

The states of New Mexico and Arizona each are eligible for
$60,000; Oregon and Washington could receive $15,000.

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