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State Takes Control of Grizzly Bear Loss Compensation

PHOTO: Montana is taking over grizzly bear livestock loss compensation program, while Defenders of Wildlife is spending more on coexistence projects. Photo credit: USFWS
PHOTO: Montana is taking over grizzly bear livestock loss compensation program, while Defenders of Wildlife is spending more on coexistence projects. Photo credit: USFWS
September 16, 2013

MISSOULA, Mont. - Montana is taking control of the program to compensate ranchers for livestock losses from grizzly bears. A new state law directs the Montana Livestock Loss Board to issue reimbursements, and that means Defenders of Wildlife will stop writing those checks, after September 30.

According to Defenders' wildlife biologist Erin Edge, her organization will shift toward more investments in coexistence projects to keep grizzlies out of trouble.

She said that will mean their emphasis will be "less on paying compensation and more on preventing conflicts through projects like our electric fencing incentive program."

Edge said they've given a $25,000 grant to the Livestock Loss Board for its Grizzly Bear Loss Prevention program, and Defenders will continue to spend on its own grizzly projects, which include range riders and bear-resistant garbage bins and food storage lockers.

Defenders will accept applications for compensation for livestock losses through September 30, Edge said.

"This transition from Defenders paying grizzly compensation in the State of Montana to the Montana Livestock Board taking over should be relatively seamless," she stated.

Defenders has paid nearly $400,000 to ranchers for livestock losses since the late 1990s, and spent more than a half million dollars on coexistence projects.

Details on the transition are at DefendersBlog.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT