HELENA — The Montana Livestock Loss Board is considering a three-month time limit for claims on animals killed by predators.
The recent announcement comes at the end of a record-breaking 2021 for loss claims.
The state agency was created to pay out the monetary value of livestock to farmers when their animal is killed by a grizzly bear, wolf or mountain lion.
The board has a yearly budget of $300,000 but has some savings from previous years where not all of the budget was used. A three-month limit on claims is being considered as payouts have already reached over $304,000 for the 2021 calendar year.
The proposal means that after an animal is killed and investigated, a rancher would have three months to get their paperwork to the government to be reimbursed. Livestock Loss Board Executive Director George Edwards says that the intent isn’t to make ranchers’ lives more difficult or leave anyone out of their reimbursement.
The calendar year for the budgetary side of the loss board is renewed every July 1, so enforcing a new limit allows for more up-to-date data, and is an easier way to keep track of the money and where it’s going.
"From when you had had that loss three months seems more than reasonable in order to turn in a claim," Edwards explained. "We're not trying to rush anyone. We're just trying to keep things current and so we can stay budgetarily sound."
The main culprit for 2021 killings has been grizzly bears. According to recent numbers by Edwards, they’ve killed 164 animals, while wolves have killed 75 and mountain lions, 106.
The Livestock Loss Board says mountain lion numbers were unusually high because of two incidents in Sweet Grass County in which mountain lions got into sheep pens.
The loss board recommends that ranchers submit any loss claims they may have as soon as possible.