August 1, 2008
In July, Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.) held a hearing regarding the Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act of 2008 (S. 2875).
First introduced in April of this year, this bill seeks to authorize the secretary of the interior to provide grants to designated states and tribes to carry out programs to reduce the risk of livestock loss due to predation by gray wolves and other predator species or to compensate landowners for livestock loss due to predation.
A Bush administration official from the Bureau of Land Management said in a statement, "(In order) for predator compensation and damage mitigation to be effective components of wildlife conservation strategies, such programs must seek to accomplish specific goals that contribute to the overall strategy. Incentives (to private landowners) must operate on clear basis of fact and performance so as to maintain the credibility and fairness of expenditures. The program proposed in S. 2875 falls short of both these requirements and, because of its broad scope, it could also be unacceptably expensive and difficult to implement."
The administration also cited concerns with the broad interpretation of predator species as listed in the bill and the collective position that this is of the states' concern.
In discussions with Barrasso's office, the intent of this bill is not to federally subsidize farmers and ranchers for the sake of feeding wolves but to support current state programs in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The bill seeks to specifically provide grants to states and tribes to pay the federal share of carrying out programs to compensate livestock producers for activities undertaken to reduce the risk of livestock loss as a result of predation by predatory species or livestock losses as a result of such predation. Eligible preventative activities include fencing, fladry, night penning, guard animals and others.
The American Sheep Industry Association will continue to monitor this piece of legislation as it develops. Staff contact: Dustin Bryant, 202-484-7126