Montana Livestock Losses to Predators Exceed Compensation in 2021 | State and Region


Montana won’t have enough money to cover all 2021 claims for livestock killed by predators, the State Livestock Loss Board reports.

Losses to wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions so far stand at 331, said council executive director George Edwards. With claims still coming in for several months, the state’s $300,000 compensation fund is unlikely to hold up.

“I’ve already had a dollar amount higher than 2019, which was a banner year,” Edwards said. Payments through Nov. 23 total $262,449, but the board generally continues to process payments through the following March. Not all murders result in a complaint being filed.

What has been steadily increasing for several years are grizzly bear kill claims. Six years ago, the number of grizzly bears killed among cattle stood at 50 confirmed head, with another 16 probable deaths. This number has increased and now stands at 80 confirmed and 35 probable kills.

Wildlife damage claims are investigated by US Department of Agriculture officers. Montana then issues state-funded compensation based on market value. This is a program first launched by the Montana Legislature in 2007 to address losses caused by wolves and grizzly bears, although cougars were later added to the list of predators. It was the addition of mountain lions that boosted funding from $200,000 to $300,000 in 2019, though it was grizzly bear losses that drove claims up.

People also read…

The greatest number of losses are reported by counties bordering wilderness, national parks, or both. Glacier and Pondera counties lead the state in the number of cattle killed by grizzly bears so far this year with a total of 62. Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness are the interface of the region.

Edwards said grizzly bear kills extend east of the Rockies into the plains. The easternmost murder reported in 2021 was in Fergus County – roughly in the middle of the state.

The number of livestock lost to wolves has been fairly stable for several years with reported deaths of cattle and sheep between the mid-1950s and 1960s, although in 2020 the number of wolves killed was 45 and the sheep of 40. Edwards attributes wolf hunting to the hijacked wolf. pressure on livestock.

The losses suffered by cougars are of a different nature. Cats tend to kill sheep and goats.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reports killing 25 wolves in Montana in 2020, the most recent year available. That same year, the federal government killed 8 grizzly bears and 20 mountain lions.


Comments are closed.