Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Posted:Eight eastern Oregon counties are dividing more than $82,000 for wolf damage to livestock and prevention efforts, which is most of the $100,000 wolf compensation fund in the current state budget.
Wallowa, Union, Baker and Umatilla counties will get 86 percent of the money appropriated by the Legislature, Agriculture Department spokesman Bruce Pokarney said.
Wallowa is the only one of the eight counties to experience actual livestock deaths or injuries due to wolves, The East Oregonian (http://bit.ly/HdFtlp) reported.
It has been awarded more than $13,000 to compensate ranchers, as well as $25,000 for preventive measures such as attaching flags to fences to keep wolves away from livestock.
Eight ranchers in Wallowa County qualified for compensation, said County Commissioner Susan Roberts, a member of a local advisory committee responsible for setting compensation rates.
Roberts said Wallowa's compensation rates are based on the type of animal lost _ calf, steer or heifer _ and its market price in August. Ranchers also may be compensated for the loss of working dogs. One claimant was reimbursed for a pack mule. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife must verify each loss, according to state law.
Other counties receiving money include Malheur, Grant, Jefferson and Crook.
State biologists say Oregon has 28 known gray wolves in four packs. Wolves in Oregon are protected under state law in an area generally east of U.S. Route 395 and, under federal law, west of it.
Rob Klavins, spokesman for Oregon Wild, a wildlife conservation organization that supports wolf recovery, said that after initial reservations, the group is pleased the plan focuses on prevention.
"Wolves are not going to decimate the livestock industry, but they can have a significant impact on a number of small livestock producers,"?he said. Most ranchers are making efforts to avoid conflict with wolves, which qualifies them for compensation when losses occur. "Living with wildlife is not an onerous burden. It's a responsibility shared by all Oregonians and this (program)?is bearing this out,"?Klavins said.