by Carly Moran
American agricultural workers could soon receive financial compensation when their livestock gets killed by a wolf that advocates are hoping to increase in population.
Lawmakers introduced the Wolf and Livestock Fairness Act to Congress on April 18. The bill would provide financial compensation to farmers whose livestock are harmed by the endangered Mexican Grey Wolf species. The one clause; don’t kill the wolf.
Representatives Davis Schweikert, R-Ariz., Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., August Pfluger, R-Texas, and Gabe Vasquez, D-N.M., sponsored the bill in hopes of balancing support for ranchers and local wildlife.
“We’re working to advance commonsense solutions that not only promote the recovery of endangered wildlife, but also support the livelihoods of our hardworking ranchers,” they said.
In 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services began programming to bring back the endangered Mexican wolf. Unfortunately, as populations continue to recover, wolves are pushed closer to livestock operations. Cattle ranching is especially common in their region.
“For two decades these families have been going above and beyond to protect their animals from predation while managing the watershed and incurring escalating costs. It’s just simply not fair for these families to bear the entire burden for the Mexican wolf program,” said Stefanie Smallhouse, president of the Arizona Farm Bureau.
Current government mandates only offer 75% of market value for affected ranchers. The WOLF Act would provide 100% relief.
“The population of Mexican wolves continues to grow while New Mexico’s ranchers are left behind. Current depredation programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program and Wolf Livestock Loss Depredation Grant Program fail to make ranchers whole from the involuntary pressures and conflicts resulting from the growing Mexican wolf presence,” said Larry Reagan, president of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.
Since 1998, the Mexican Grey Wolf species has transformed from no wild population left to at least 241 in 2022 across the American Southwest. The bipartisan WOLF Act seeks to encourage more growth without sacrificing the needs of the rural community.
“As both a County Commissioner and rancher, I can attest to the heavy impacts wolf depredations have had on our ranching community,” said Audrey McQueen, Catron County commissioner and rancher. “Receiving compensation for our stock losses has been tedious and frustrating. We applaud Congressman Vasquez for his legislation that would help our ranchers receive timely compensation for wolf kills.”
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