Photo by Morgan Heim.

State spends $3 million in funding to compensate 109 claims from 36 livestock producers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports as of March 8 it had exhausted the $3 million allotted by the state legislature and the state agency is no longer accepting Wolf Livestock Compensation Pilot Program applications.

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According to CDFW, “As of March 2024, all funds are exhausted. Eligible livestock producers received 100 percent of the $3 million allocated by the legislature. A total of 109 grants were awarded to producers with livestock in the following areas of known wolf activity: Lassen, Siskiyou, Plumas and Tulare counties.

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The $3 million allocation for the pilot program contained three prongs — prong 1: direct livestock loss, prong 2: nonlethal deterrents and prong 3: pay for presence. Prong 1 launched February 2022, prong 2 launched May 22 and compensation for all three launched in June 2023. Nearly $2 million was expended for prong 2 activities (deterrent tools) and nearly $1 million was expended for prong 3 activities (pay for presence). Only $135,043.95 was expended for direct loss to producers.

According to CDFW, eligible prodders were compensated up to 100 percent for prong 2 efforts.

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The future of the program is uncertain as its continuation would require another allocation of funds by the state legislature and no one has introduced such legislation.

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Lassen County received 23 grants totaling $490,027.60 (16.3 percent of total) including five prong 1 grants, eight prong 2 grants and 10 prong 3 grants.

Producers in Plumas County received 67.3 percent of the allocated funds.

“I participated in the program as a producer,” said rancher Richard Egan. “Producers have been telling them since the beginning that they’re going to run out of money if they keep wasting their money on silly quote preventative measures that don’t do any good. Basically, that’s exactly what happened, and the department hasn’t made any attempt to secure additional funding to compensate for the losses. It’s just more disappointing nonsense.”

Egan, who also serves as the administrative officer for Lassen County also has been frustrated in his efforts to obtain information from the department.

“I have made Public Records Act requests to them for how they calculated my payment, and so far they’ve refused to comply with the Public Records Act,” Egan said. “I don’t know if they’ve done this to all the producers or just me, but they’ve just stopped responding to any of my phone calls or emails about the wolf program.”