The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it would send a one-time payment of $170,000  to the Montana Livestock Board to help cover losses due to wolf predation. On Friday, September 6 the Livestock Loss Board's Executive Secretary George Edwards was at a meeting in Choteau to discuss how the money should be spent.

"Some of the types of projects that they've shown a high interest in is carcass removal programs, similar to what's been done by the Blackfoot Challenge over at Ovando," commented Edwards while on break during the meetings. "In that area, they've been able to reduce losses by wolves and grizzly bears by over 90 percent, so it's proven effective."

There will be $100,000 spent on prevention programs, potentially similar to other carcass removal pilot projects. The rest will be spent on reimbursement for losses. Edwards said that the current way reimbursement is handled is very limited.

"When it comes to wolves, we only pay for a very tiny portion of actual loss," Edwards said. "We pay for death loss only. The larger impact to the livestock industry is stress on animals: they don't gain weight, they have their heads up instead of eating, and they're more aware of what's going on around them. Weight loss can be huge... you're talking millions and millions of dollars in economic impact."

Montana's Livestock Loss Board was put in place in 2007 to monitor and compensate ranchers for the loss of livestock to wolf predation.

So far this year, the Livestock Loss Board reports that there have been filings for 76 animals that had been preyed on by wolves for a total of over $60,000 in reimbursement.

George Edwards: