Defenders of Wildlife stops paying ranchers for livestock lost to wolves

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2010:
WASHINGTON D.C.–Defenders of Wildlife on August 20, 2010
announced that it will end paying compensation for verified livestock
losses to wolves in most states on September 10.
The 23-year-old Wolf Compensation Trust managed by Defenders
is widely credited with opening the way to wolf reintroduction in the
Rocky Mountains. Defenders has paid $1.4 million since 1987 to
ranchers in six states, for the deaths of 1,301 cattle, 2,431
sheep, and 108 other animals. “Our goal is to shift economic
responsibility for wolf recovery away from the individual rancher,”
said the Wolf Compensation Trust mission statement, “and toward the
millions of people who want to see wolf populations restored. When
ranchers alone are forced to bear the cost of wolf recovery, it
creates animosity and ill will toward the wolf,” which can “result
in illegal killing.”

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will assume responsibility
for compensating ranchers, through an appropriation included in the
2009 Omnibus Public Lands Management Act by Senators John Tester of
Montana and John Barrasso of Wyoming.
The federal program will cover losses to wolves in 10
states–the six in which Defenders has made payments, plus Michigan,
Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Each state must match the federal allocation as a condition
of participating.
“To smooth the transition,” Defend-ers announced,
“Defenders is offering to make a one-time contribution to help states
in need of matching funds. Defenders has already provided Montana
with grants of $50,000 for each of the last two years to help get
that state’s livestock compensation program up and running. In Idaho
and Wyoming, Defend-ers’ compensation payments already made to
livestock producers this year will be credited toward fulfilling
those states’ matching requirements. In Arizona and New Mexico,
Defenders will make a contribution to the Mexi-can Wolf Interdiction
Trust Fund,” another livestock compensation program.
“In Washington,” Def-enders continued, “Defenders will
offer a substantial contribution to help the state meet its matching
funds requirement. Defenders will continue to offer livestock
compensation in Oregon, Colorado, and Utah, and with certain
tribes, for one year while those states and tribes adopt measures
necessary to establish livestock compensation programs.”
The anticipated wrap-up of the Wolf Compensation Trust came
two weeks after U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on August 5, 2010
restored wolves throughout the Rocky Mountains to protection by the
federal Endangered Species Act. Molloy ruled that since wolves in
the Rockies are one population, they must either all be protected or
all be downlisted, but cannot be treated differently in one state
from another.
Explained Associated Press writer Matt Volz, “Last year, the
U.S. Fish and Wild-life Service turned over wolf management to
Montana and Idaho wildlife officials, but left federal endangered
species protection in place for wolves in Wyoming, where state law
is considered hostile to the animals’ survival.”
Wrote Molloy, “Even if the Service’s solution is
pragmatic, or even practical, it is at heart a political solution
that does not comply with the ESA.”
The Molloy verdict halted wolf hunting seasons scheduled
for fall 2010 in Montana and Idaho. Wolves were downlisted in both
states after the northern Rockies wolf count reached the recovery
target of 2,000, but after the 2009 Montana and Idaho wolf hunting
seasons the population fell to 1,650.
The Montana wolf quota was doubled for 2010. State
officials openly hoped that the 2010 hunting season would reduce wolf
numbers further.
After Molloy’s ruling, Montana wolf program coordinator
Carolyn Sime and Idaho Fish & Game deputy director Jim Unsworth
floated the notion of holding “research hunts” for wolves.
“They’re adopting the Japanese whaling approach,” Defenders of
Wildlife regional director Mike Leahy told Associated Press writer
Matthew Brown.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service personnel pointed out that the
Endangered Species Act does not include an exemption for “research

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