Wolf-Kill Reimbursement Raises Hackles of Ranchers

Jan 27, 2014

A northern Arizona lawmaker wants to put the state in charge of giving out federal dollars to ranchers who lose cattle to wolves. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Mexican gray wolf
Credit Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The issue comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is no longer returning wolves to the area on the Arizona-New Mexico border where they are being reintroduced. The new zone stretches from Interstate 10 all the way to I-40. Rep. Bob Thorpe says he’s heard complaints that ranchers are not getting the reimbursement they were promised when a wolf kills cattle.

“They are subjecting the state of Arizona to a program that we didn’t ask them to bring into the state. I don’t believe there was any approval in the governor’s office, at the legislature, for this wolf program. So, if they are subjecting citizens of Arizona to this program, I want them to at least live up to their obligations,” Thorpe said.

He wants Fish and Wildlife to post a bond that state officials could use to reimburse ranchers. But, Sherry Barrett, the agency’s Mexican wolf recovery coordinator, said all a rancher needs is proof a kill occurred by a wolf — and not some other animal.

“The canines, you could tell whether that was a coyote or a dog based on how big the mouth was. You could also look around to see what other tracks are in the area. And how it’s killed also varies considerably between a bear, a mountain lion and a wolf,” Barrett said.

Thorpe acknowledged the feds aren’t going to simply give money to the state, saying it may take a fight all the way to the Supreme Court.