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Wolf impacts on ranchers softened by grant program

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The first year of a program to prevent wolf impacts and compensate ranchers who have suffered livestock losses due to wolves has been operating smoothly:

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Year one of a block grant program for Oregon counties impacted by wolf depredation has been fulfilling its intended purpose, says Jason Barber of the Oregon Department of Agriculture:

BARBER:  “The monies got out to the applicable counties and then got out to those ranchers that had confirmed or probably depredation cases, and also those ranchers that were in a wolf activity area to help with prevention.”  :15

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Out of the 100-thousand dollars allocated for the biennium, about 83-thousand was spent the first year– most of it for non-lethal prevention measures. But some of the money was directly given by the counties to ranchers who suffered losses and most of the remaining funds will do the same:

BARBER:  “Right around 86-87 percent of the confirmed or probable wolf depredation cases have all been in Wallowa County. Baker County, I believe, had one case with a cow and Umatilla had a couple of sheep.”  :16

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ODA administers the program and is currently reviewing grant applications from 10 eastern Oregon counties for the remaining funds available in year two, even as the state’s known wolf population has doubled to 46 since the first round of funding. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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BARBER says about 80 percent of the funds distributed in year one were directed towards proactive, non-lethal efforts to reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock:

“The best preventive technique is actually employing a range rider. So having somebody actually go out on horseback or on an ATV out where the herds are, looking for wolves and kind of preventing the interaction.”  :16

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BARBER says with the limited amount of money available for the second year of the program, awards are expected to only cover compensation of ranchers who have had livestock killed or injured this past year even though several counties are asking for funding:

“All of them understand that there is a finite amount of money and they all agree that it certainly should go to the folks that have actually experienced the loss.”  :09

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