Here is the version of the story from the Missoulian. State set to take over wolf kill payments. By Perry Backus of the Missoulian.
“Over its 20-year history, the Defenders of Wildlife have made 276 payments to Montanans totaling more than $317,000 for 336 cattle, 689 sheep, 16 livestock dogs and 15 other animals, including mules and llamas”
$317,000 over 20 years. I read that and I am shocked at how little direct economic damage wolves have done. Some might say $317,000 is a lot of money, and yes, consider this . . . if you extrapolate, then over 200 years wolves might do over 3-million dollars damage, and 2000 years, 30-million dollars.
Defenders expects, and Montana says they will use part of the state fund to provide for new mitigation efforts that help keep wolves separated from domestic animals. This in fact might be the least cost solution, especially when social conflict is factored in.
When a popular wolf pack is terminated by the government because of minor livestock losses, and especially when there are volunteers or people that would work for expenses or a small stipend to patrol and keep wolves and livestock apart, citizens can make the killing of that pack quite costly.
Right now we stand at the brink of an era of decreasing conflict on this issue, working these problems out, or one of escalation of ill feeling. I’m not just, or even especially writing about Montana.
Addition: Montana wants to build this fund up to $5-million, which is far more than any conceivable losses from wolves given the 20-year record above. This means they should have plenty of money to employ people and techniques to keep wolves and livestock apart — fewer dead cows and sheep, and fewer dead wolves. I think a majority of people would find this to be a better solution than to have to compensate after the fact.