Defenders say it’s met obligation on wolf payments

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Defenders of Wildlife says Gov. Otter falsely accused it of abandoning ranchers

Defenders of Wildlife says Gov. Otter falsely accused it of abandoning ranchers

The conservation group Defenders of Wildlife says Gov. Butch Otter is wrong in his attack on the group for ending its program of compensating ranchers whose animals are injured or killed by wolves.

“It’s unfortunate that Gov. Otter and the Idaho Statesman are mischaracterizing our efforts to date and using this transition to fan the controversy over wolves in the region,” Defenders’ president Rodger Schlickeisen said in a news release.

The group announced on Aug. 20 that it would end its wolf compensation program for livestock producers who can verify that wolves harmed their animals.  Defenders has paid more than $433,000 to Idaho ranchers since voluntarily launching the program in 1987, including more than $140,000 in 2010.  The program will end Sept. 10.

Otter said Tuesday that Defenders never intended to keep its commitment to any agreements on wolf policy and that he will do everything he can to restore Idaho’s state management of wolves.  The Idaho Statesman criticized the group in an editorial in Wednesday’s paper.

Defenders was one of several groups that won a lawsuit in August putting Idaho’s wolves back on the endangered species list and under federal protection.  Schlickeisen said Defenders will continue to work with ranchers to promote nonlethal deterrents of wolves.

Read Defenders’ full response to Otter’s statement on Tuesday below.

Defenders fulfills commitment on compensation

Idaho ranchers have more resources than ever before

– Defenders has invested more than $1.4 million since 1987 to compensate ranchers for livestock lost to wolves, including more than $433,000 to Idaho ranchers

– Despite these contributions, Idaho Governor “Butch” Otter and the Idaho Statesman have falsely accused Defenders of abandoning ranchers, even though Defenders has paid more than $140,000 in compensation to Idaho livestock producers this year.

– Though states are taking over compensation, Defenders will continue to partner with ranchers in Idaho and across the region to prevent conflict between livestock and wolves and to promote coexistence using nonlethal deterrents.

Washington, DC (September 1, 2010) – No good deed goes unpunished, and today Defenders of Wildlife is being criticized for ending its program compensating for livestock lost to wolves, following enactment of federal legislation providing $140,000 to Idaho to establish a state-run compensation program.

The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:

“For 23 years, Defenders has been paying ranchers for losses to wolves and we continue to partner with ranchers today to make a difference on the ground.  It’s unfortunate that Gov. Otter and the Idaho Statesman are mischaracterizing our efforts to date and using this transition to fan the controversy over wolves in the region.

“The truth is that Defenders has made tremendous investments in Idaho and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  We started paying compensation voluntarily, when there were no other programs of its kind.  Now, Idaho is receiving more money from the federal government each year for compensation than we were ever able to provide on our own.  At the same time, we’re still working with ranchers and paying for nonlethal deterrents in Idaho.

“The bottom line is that, if Idaho does its job, ranchers will be fully compensated for any livestock lost to wolves.  And despite Idaho’s attempts to stir up more controversy, Defenders remains committed to working toward the long-term recovery of wolves in the region.  That is why we support the proposal by Senators Baucus and Tester to bring all stakeholders together to develop solutions that meet the needs of wildlife and people in the northern Rockies.”

Background:

Defenders announced on Aug. 20 that it would be ending its precedent-setting compensation program on Sept. 10 in response to new federal legislation that provides funding for state programs to take its place.  Idaho has received $140,000 this year to expand its existing compensation program, which already receives $100,000 annually from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—grant money not awarded to any other state.  This appropriation is in addition to more than $140,000 already provided this year by Defenders to compensate ranchers for verified losses of livestock to wolves, which can be used to satisfy Idaho’s federal matching-fund requirements.

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