Supes approve resolution providing wolf depredation compensation recommendations to CDFW

With the intention to get the state of California to provide compensation for damages and losses caused by the gray wolf, or to at least start the conversation, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution providing recommendations to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

During the Tuesday, Nov. 17 meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved the resolution, which was proposed by the Lassen County Fish and Game Commission, with a change specifying local government agency representatives would conduct depredation investigations rather than independent third parties and other government agency representatives.

According to Deputy County Administrative Officer Tony Shaw, “There is no authorization by the state legislature to have a compensation program, there is no authorization by the state legislature or the governor to develop a compensation strategy, there is no state budget for it. So there was a compressed schedule to develop these recommendations with the Fish and Game Commission at the local level so that the board can adopt something, so that in January, in the beginning of the state legislative cycle, hopefully a bill will be introduced that will later authorize the department to actually develop regulations and contain things that you’re asking for.”

Essentially, Shaw explained, the secretary of natural resources, or the governor’s office or the state legislature needs to introduce a bill so that the state legislature can have a discussion about what’s possible for a compensation program. He also warned on focusing too much on wording of the document, since it was time sensitive.

The resolution, put together by the Lassen County Fish and Game Commission and approved by the supervisors, could spur the introduction of a bill to promote further discussion of a compensation program.

However, there was some discussion regarding the resolution.

Taylor Hagata, from the Lassen County Farm Bureau, said he personally agreed with the document, but it was too vague at the moment to put the Farm Bureau name on it. Getting the state of California to admit there is a predator problem, though, would have “value.”

“We totally agree with everything on this document, but the biggest problem that I see, personally … is it’s just too vague,” said Hagata.

“I have a lot of concerns with this. We need to have it ironed out who is determining the kills,” Hagata said, explaining it would not work to wait on people from the state since a depredation investigation is time-dependent. “Us, as an organization, I don’t think we could personally support this document. I understand the process, but I wouldn’t want to put Farm Bureau’s name on something that is so vague. But, at the same time, I personally agree that maybe if this gets the ball rolling, then so be it.”

He also said he would like to see the state admit there is a predator problem.

Meeting attendee Lee Bailey said while he appreciated the work put into the document, he had some concerns.

While he understood “not being a wordsmith of a piece of paper that’s meant to open a conversation. Something to consider is, this piece of paper is what’s going to start the conversation, and nobody in this room is going to be there when that conversation starts.”

He continued saying a poorly worded compensation program isn’t better than none.

During the meeting, supervisor Aaron Alabugh shared his frustration with state officials and the CDFW, while thanking the local commission.

“This has got to start somewhere,” he said.

The resolution has three components of compensation for losses of livestock and pets caused by gray wolves, mountain lions and bears, according to Shaw.

The three components are direct, indirect and pay for presence.

“When a depredation investigation has determined that a gray wolf, mountain lion or bear has likely caused the death or severe injury of a pet, working-animal or livestock, the state should fully compensate that animal’s owner for their loss,” read the resolution. “Full compensation should be composed of two parts: (1) an amount of direct compensation to pay for the owner’s direct loss of the animal and (2) an amount of indirect compensation to the owner for other costs or the probable indirect effects of the predation.”

The direct compensation would not be less than 100 percent of the fair market value of the animal at the time of loss, the resolution stipulated.

Moreover, “An amount of indirect compensation shall also be paid to the owner in addition to direct compensation. Indirect compensation is a multiplier or percentage increase in compensation that is intended to account for other predator related damages, as suggested by current research on predator impacts and losses,” the resolution continued.

There was also language included regarding pay for presence compensation, meaning “Damage and losses caused by a gray wolf, mountain lion or bear shall entitle the owner to receive direct and indirect compensation regardless of the depredation location in the state, and irrespective to wolf pack territorial boundaries, wolf travel patterns, or “pay for presence” compensation.”

The board also directed staff to amend the resolution specifying local government agency representatives would conduct depredation investigations rather than Independent third parties and other government agency representatives.

The board unanimously approved the resolution. Supervisor Chris Gallagher was not present at the meeting.

Gray Wolf Resolution