As states take over compensation, Defenders devotes resources to working with ranchers


  • New federal legislation supplants need for Defenders of Wildlife Wolf Compensation Trust
  • Defenders transitions landmark Wolf Compensation Trust after 23 years of helping livestock owners by paying more than $1.4 million for verified losses to wolves
  • Defenders is contributing funds to help states initiate compensation programs authorized by new federal legislation
  • Defenders will dedicate support for Wolf Coexistence Partnership, funding range riders, guard dogs and portable fencing projects
WASHINGTON, DC (08/20/2010) -

Defenders of Wildlife announced today that, with the implementation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and states of new federal legislation providing federal funds for state programs to compensate ranchers for livestock taken by wolves, Defenders’ highly successful livestock compensation program is no longer needed and will end in most states on Sept. 10. Defenders is providing support to states as they start their own compensation programs, and will be focusing on collaborative efforts to help ranchers coexist with wolves.

The Wolf Compensation Trust has been instrumental in building tolerance for wolves within the ranching and livestock industry as wolf populations have made a comeback across the Northern Rockies and have begun to repopulate the Southwest. New federal legislation that provides funding to help states initiate their own compensation programs will allow Defenders to focus its resources on safeguarding livestock and saving wolves by preventing conflicts.

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

“For nearly a quarter of a century, Defenders’ livestock compensation program has been a resounding success in helping ranchers who live and work in wolf country. Without it, recovery of wolves in the western United States would not have been possible.

“We are pleased that federal legislation authored by Senators Jon Tester of Montana and John Barrasso of Wyoming, and financial contributions by Defenders of Wildlife, are enabling states with recovering wolf populations to continue this legacy by initiating or expanding their own compensation programs. At the same time, we look forward to building more partnerships with livestock owners, helping them find ways to reduce or avoid losses to wolves.”


Last year’s Omnibus Public Lands Management Act included a provision sponsored by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and John Barrasso (R-WY) authorizing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to provide up to $1 million in FY2010 for wolf compensation and nonlethal deterrence programs in Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Those states are eligible for up to $140,000 each as a result of the new legislation, but they must provide a 50 percent cost-share to match their request for federal funding. Awarded funds are to be used both to compensate ranchers for verified livestock losses and to prevent conflicts with wolves.

In order to smooth the transition toward state-run compensation programs, Defenders is offering to make a one-time contribution to help states in need of matching funds, and Defenders regional staff is offering expert guidance to help design and implement these new programs.  In Montana, Defenders has already provided the state with grants of $50,000 for each of the last two years to help get that state’s livestock compensation program up and running.  In Idaho and Wyoming, Defenders’ compensation payments already made to livestock producers this year will be credited toward fulfilling those states’ matching requirements. In Arizona and New Mexico, Defenders will make a contribution to the Mexican Wolf Interdiction Trust Fund, which will provide for livestock compensation for wolf depredations.  In Washington, Defenders will offer a substantial contribution to help the state meet its matching funds requirement.  Defenders will continue to offer livestock compensation in Oregon, Colorado, and Utah, and with certain tribes, for one year while those states and tribes adopt measures necessary to establish livestock compensation programs.  Meanwhile, Defenders is focusing resources on projects to safeguard livestock and protect wolves.

Defenders’ Wolf Coexistence Partnership
What is the Wolf Coexistence Partnership all about? We work with ranchers to prevent wolves from preying on livestock, which gives wolves a better chance of staying out of harm’s way. Together, we are implementing nonlethal techniques to keep wolves away from livestock, including:
    • Range riders or cowboys to protect livestock (a constant human presence discourages wolves from getting too close)
    • Guard dogs to alert herders and range riders of nearby wolves
    • Portable fencing or fladry (brightly colored flags strung across a rope or electrified wire that scare wolves) to secure livestock overnight
    • Nonlethal hazing techniques, such as shining bright lights or firing a loud starter pistol, to drive off wolves
    • Good husbandry practices, such as removing carcasses, which attract wolves to livestock, offering them an easy meal
    • Moving livestock to grazing pastures away from wolf dens to avoid conflicts


Read our Frequently Asked Questions on transitioning wolf compensation
Visit our wolf coexistence partnership website with a map of projects in the region and our guide to nonlethal tools
Learn about all of Defenders’ wolf conservation efforts


John Motsinger, (202) 772-0288
Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270

Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.


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