Posted: May 18, 2012 6:04 PM by Dennis Bragg (KPAX/KAJ Media Center)
Updated: May 21, 2012 10:52 AM
HAMILTON- Bitterroot ranchers and conservationists tell the state's Livestock Loss Board they need to find money to help pay for preventing wolves killing livestock, not just paying for lost animals.
The board was formed five years ago to help ranchers who lose livestock to Montana's growing population of gray wolves.
But now, with the state taking the lead role on wolf management, the Loss Board is also delving deeper into the issues impacting Montana's ranchers because of the wolves. The board is holding "listening sessions" around the state and came to Hamilton for the first time this morning.
Board members explain they continue to do their best to spend the $250,000 the state allocates for compensating ranches because of wolf kills. But the panel is also working with other groups to secure federal money for "prevention" measures, like fences and radio collars, to manage wolves before they kill.
And that news met with the approval of both wolf proponents and ranchers alike.
"Many people in Ravalli County, including the Bitterroot Valley are not opposed to wolves and actually support them. Livestock losses are very low and that there are some ranchers who are interested in applying preventive measures and tools to reduce losses from wolves from happening in the first place," Marc Cook of Wolves of the Rockies said.
"Personally I don't think it's realistic to say that a pack of wolves is going to stay above our place and there good wolves and they don't attack cattle. The problem is they keep having puppies," Stevensville rancher Carl Baldwin stated.
Others encouraged the board to support Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' proposals for more aggressive hunting seasons as another means of controlling wolf populations.