Oregon governor signs wolf compensation bill
With the addition of his signature on Aug. 2, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has taken the final step in the ratification of a bill authorizing the use of state funds to compensate ranchers and other landowners for losses incurred as a result of wolf depredation. Known as the Livestock Compensation and Wolf Co-Existence Act, Oregon House Bill 3560 directs the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to establish and administer a $100,000 relief fund. At the producer level, the funds will take the form of grants provided to individual counties dealing with wolf interactions. According to supporters of the bill, by allowing livestock compensation to be authorized at the county rather than the state level, HB 3560 sets a precedent for collaboration that goes beyond compensation programs enacted in other western states. “We are optimistic that the fundamentals of the program are positive and that they will provide some relief for ranch families in northeast Oregon suffering from wolves interacting with their livestock,” said Bill Hoyt, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) president. Hoyt and OCA were one of the primary supporters of the bill.
In order for a county to receive funding under the new law, it must first establish a county level program, governed by a committee. The members of the committee are explicitly laid out, and must consist of one county commissioner, two livestock producers, and two members who support “wolf conservation or coexistence with wolves.” Additionally, the bill also intentionally brings together state agencies to cooperatively manage the funds. Under the law, ODA will be in charge of managing and dispersing the funding to the counties while the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) will maintain its traditional role determining whether or not a wolf kill has taken place. During the final negotiations of the bill, Kitzhaber expressed his praise to the wide variety of groups, which included the Defenders of Wildlife and the Hells Canyon
See Wolf compensation on page 14