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Washington Considers Another Impact Of Wolves: Skinny Cows

Anna King
Northwest News Network

Washington ranchers who can show that wolves are making their cattle lose weight could get reimbursed under a new proposal. The rule before the Fish and Wildlife Commission would expand a compensation program for ranchers living in wolf country.

Washington’s cattle ranchers aren’t the first to complain about skinny livestock. Ranchers in Idaho and Oregon also say the reintroduction of wolves has made sheep and cattle move more and eat less.

That translates into the bottom line, says Dave Ware. He’s the game manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  “The way that a rancher gets paid in the fall when they bring their cattle from the range is by weigh ... so much per pound,” Ware says.

Washington would be the first state in the Northwest to compensate ranchers for livestock weight loss, not just livestock killed by wolves.

But Suzanne Stone is skeptical. She’s with the group Defenders of Wildlife.  “The weight loss claim has been made by a lot of ranchers. But as of yet, there’s not been a study that actually has proven that weight loss occurs because of wolves,” Stone says.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioners will take public comment on the proposal at their meeting on Nov. 9.

The plan would also expand compensation for livestock loss to more types of animals, including herd dogs, llamas, alpacas and goats, even for noncommercial livestock owners. Top priority for compensation would go to people who take preventive measures.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network