(Salem, Ore. — August 5, 2011) With his signature on the Livestock Compensation and Wolf Co-Existence Act (House Bill 3560), Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber sets a national precedent with a first-of-its-kind agreement in the United States. The bill directs the Oregon Department of Agriculture to establish and implement a wolf depredation fund of $100,000 that will be used for grants to counties dealing with wolf interactions. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA), which worked diligently with the Oregon Legislature and other organizations on the innovative bill, will realize a direct benefit to its members through the establishment of the fund.
“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, OCA President. State officials have confirmed more than 40 livestock kills by wolves in Oregon, the most recent one on June 4. Wolf depredation investigations in Northeast Oregon are ongoing and there is now evidence of wolves in Wheeler and Umatilla Counties.
Gov. Kitzhaber, who convened a table to negotiate the final version of the bill, praised the efforts of diverse groups such as the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Farm Bureau, Defenders of Wildlife, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council for coming to terms with the program.
“At a time when Congress is cutting controversial backroom deals to undermine the Endangered Species Act and other states continue to fight the same tired fight on wolves, Oregon is proving that people can find common ground on even the toothiest of issues,” said Kitzhaber, referring to Congress’s recent decision to use a budget rider to de-list wolves in the Rocky Mountain West. “When it comes to solving seemingly intractable problems, it takes a commitment to collaborate and break the mold, and that’s what we have here.”
The Livestock Compensation and Wolf Co-Existence Act establishes precedents that go beyond what other states have done related to livestock compensation. It authorizes county-level authorities to address compensation for and deterrence of livestock losses, The Act also intentionally brings together the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), which handles agricultural matters such as livestock, together with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has jurisdiction over wildlife management. ODA will manage the distribution of funds to counties, while ODFW will make the call on whether a livestock kill was caused by wolves or other factors.
OCA’s Hoyt said he is “looking forward to a reasonably seamless rule-making and implementation process; and as with any new policy, I expect it will take time to determine if any adjustment to the program will be needed in the future.”