Compensation for ranchers to coexist with wolves
Twenty six livestock operators in Arizona and New Mexico received their first payments this month from the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council as part of an innovative program aimed at the recovery of the Mexican wolf population. The payments should help alleviate the negative financial impacts that affect livestock producers within the wolf recovery zone.
Established in March 2014, the Coexistence Council developed the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Plan that outlines a new model for addressing wolf-livestock conflicts, which is one of the most significant obstacles to the Mexican wolf recovery. The Coexistence Plan and “Payments for Wolf Presence” program create incentives for livestock operators in order to promote self-sustaining Mexican wolf populations, viable ranching operations, and healthy western landscapes. The program does this by compensating for operating with wolves in the area and funding for conflict avoidance measures.
Payments made to participating livestock operators should reflect current auction prices for when a wolf kills a rancher’s livestock, but some feel the payments are too low.
"Right now a 500-pound calf is worth roughly anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500," says Patrick Bray. Bray is with the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association. "The compensation program is not really paying out at that level."
Regardless, many remain optimistic that this program will be successful.
"The Arizona Game and Fish Department views the Coexistence Council as a step in the right direction relative to compensating rangeland livestock operators," says Jim deVos, Game and Fish's assistant director for wildlife management. "It is important that those who live and work on the same landscape that wolves occupy are compensated for losses associated with Mexican wolf reintroduction."
The eleven member volunteer council consists of livestock producers, tribes, environmental groups and counties within Arizona and New Mexico. Funding for the Coexistence Plan comes from the Federal Livestock Demonstration Program, the Mexican Wolf Fund, and Defenders of Wildlife.