Friday, February 10, 2012

Wallowa County, OR seeks $30,000 from wolf fund

Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 By ELANE DICKENSON
East Oregonian
Publishing Company

The Wallowa County Board of Commissioners applied Monday for $30,500 through the state Wolf Depredation Compensation grant program.
The three commissioners approved a compensation request of $20,000 for livestock damage — $11,730 for loss due to wolves since September 2011 and $8,270 for expected losses before the next claim period. The commissioners also asked $10,000 for non-lethal wolf deterrents and $500 to implement the grant program locally.

The Oregon Legislature in June 2011 created a $100,000 Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Block Grant Program aimed at compensating livestock producers who lost animals to preying wolves. Wallowa County has been hardest hit as gray wolves make a comeback in Oregon. Ranchers there have lost more than 20 animals since May 2010.
Compensation claims were paid from a independent fund until the state law took effect in August 2011.
Wallowa commissioners weighed wether to seek funds for documented losses or apply for expected losses to come.

“In talking to other counties, ... it is my understanding they plan to request for a substantial amount out of the program for future losses,” Chairman Mike Hayward said. “... It’s next year before we can apply again.”
They agreed to seek funds to pay ranchers for future losses, with the knowledge that in the last couple of years the heaviest losses have been in the spring.
The commission used figures supplied by its Community Alliance Livestock Fund advisory committee and a separate claims committee established to set livestock values to come up with its compensation claim request.
The Legislature set aside $50,000 to be granted in 2012 and $50,000 in 2013. Under the funding rules, at least 30 percent of each application is required to be for non-lethal deterrent to keep wolves away from livestock.

The deadline to apply for the first round of funds is Feb. 15..
Cynthia Warnock of the livestock advisory committee said the committee recommended funding a range rider as non-lethal deterrent. The range rider provides the “biggest bang for the buck,” though some money could be spent on other methods. A $10,000 grant amount would pay for 533 hours for a range rider.
The $11,730 compensation was asked for two probable and eight confirmed livestock kills by wolves of the Imnaha pack between Sept. 7, 2011 and Jan. 13 — $1,500 for a probable, a mule, and $840 for two confirmed calf kills.

Commissioner Susan Roberts is a member of the  Community Alliance Livestock Fund board of directors, along with ranchers Todd Nash and Levi Herman and co-existence supporters Mark Porter and Wally Sykes. Two vacancies representing business interests are currently vacant.
Ex-officio members of CALF are Bill Williams of the Farm Service Agency; Warnock, a member of the Soil and Water Conservation staff; John Williams, Oregon State University extension agent; and ranchers Rod Childers and Dwayne Voss.

On the separate claims committee are Alan Klages, a soil and water district director; Donna Smith, FSA county committee member; Scott McClaran, county representative to the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association; and ranchers Dennis Sheehy and Todd Nash.
The committees, amended to meet state membership specifications, were officially approved, 2-1, by the commissioners Jan. 17. Commissioner Paul Castilleja voted against the order making the appointments because he objected to the inclusion of Wally Sykes of Joseph.

Castilleja said Sykes “had written letters to the Chieftain cutting down the ranchers and testifying in Salem against the compensation bill.”
After Monday’s meeting, Castilleja said he is satisfied with Wallowa County’s compensation application “if they are going to give us the money. That remains to be seen.”