by Don Jenkins
Washington wildlife officials are recruiting livestock experts and conservationists to advise the state on compensating ranchers for lost production caused by wolves.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to appoint up to five volunteers to serve on the new committee.
The panel will review WDFW’s approval or denial of claims for reduced weight gain, low pregnancy rates and higher-than-normal losses.
The department will make the final call on payments, but the panel will bring additional expertise and transparency to the process, WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said.
He said WDFW wants a variety of viewpoints represented. “Diversity is important. If it were all like-minded people, we’d need only one person,” he said.
WDFW pays ranchers the market value for livestock killed by wolves. The state’s wolf recovery plan also calls for WDFW to develop a system to compensate ranchers for livestock losses where there is no direct evidence wolves caused the damage.
Martorello said WDFW has not made any payments for indirect losses, but two ranchers have filed claims.
Volunteers will serve staggered one- or two-year terms. The committee may start meeting as early as mid-November and will likely meet about four times a year, according to WDFW.
Committee members will be reimbursed for travel expenses.
Applications and nominations must be submitted in writing and include a description of “experience in collaborating with people who have different values.”
Applications also must include the candidate’s name, telephone number, email address and organization affiliations.
Candidates should explain why they would be an effective board member and report their experience with livestock, natural resource management or wildlife conservation.
People or groups nominating members must include their names and contact information.