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Private Wolf Compensation Program To Be Phased Out

Doug Nadvornick

Northwest ranchers seeking restitution for livestock killed by wolves will soon get compensation from a new source. For 23 years, the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife has paid ranchers for verified livestock kills. But as correspondent Doug Nadvornick reports, the group is eliminating its program.


Defenders of Wildlife says it has paid more than a million dollars to ranchers since wolves were reintroduced in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Dustin Miller from the Idaho Office of Species Conservation says the payments are important to ranchers worried that wolves will kill their livestock.

Dustin Miller: "We feel that the conservation groups that wanted wolves placed into Idaho had an obligation and commitment to pay for all the damages."

Miller says taxpayers will now be stuck with paying ranchers for their losses caused by wolves. That's because the federal government is now paying states to create their own compensation programs. So Defenders of Wildlife says that means its program is no longer needed in the Mountain West. The group's Mike Leahy says Defenders will pay compensation claims through September and then pass them off to states. He says that actually means more ranchers may be paid.

Mike Leahy: "Truthfully, some ranchers had consternation over working with a conservation group and, consequently, I think that some ranchers didn't seek compensation."

Leahy says Defenders will pay claims in Washington and Oregon for another year. Those states don't yet have compensation programs.

I'm Doug Nadvornick reporting.

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