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‘Reactive compensation’ not ‘proactive deterrence’

The need for a proactive rather than reactive approach to wolf management has never been more apparent than it is in the wake of recent wolf-livestock depredation incidents.

Compensation for livestock losses is an important component of Colorado’s Wolf Management Plan, and in this regard it is by most accounts the most generous in the nation, providing up to $15,000 for each verified loss.

Unfortunately, the emphasis on reactive compensation rather than proactive deterrence places the cart before the horse. Tools and techniques are available, which allow ranchers to minimize conflicts and operate successfully on a landscape that now includes wolves – just as they’ve been doing for years with bears, mountain lions, coyotes and other predators.

There are a number of entities that provide materials and volunteers on the ground to assist ranchers with nonlethal depredation minimization. In addition to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, these include Colorado State University’s Center for Human Carnivore Coexistence, Defenders of Wildlife, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Rocky Mountain Wolf Project, the Western Landowners Alliance, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Additional resources are being funded by the Colorado’s new “Born to be Wild” license plates, which have raised more than $160,000 in just over three months to fund CPW’s conflict minimization program.

My understanding is that ranchers who are taking advantage of these resources are experiencing fewer problems than those who are not. That seems to me a business model for success.

Lennette De Forest

Durango