Cattlemen’s group denied request for funding wolf control

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WENATCHEE – A Washington Cattlemen’s group is upset over being left out of grant money to ease conflicts between wolves and cattle.

Four ranches and a new nonprofit have been awarded a total of $276,000 in state funds to protect cattle in Washington’s wolf country with range riders and fences. Meanwhile, a proposal by the Cattle Producers of Washington, whose members include ranchers most affected by wolves, has been denied funding.

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Rancher Sam Kayser watches drives cattle across the former Dickey Creek campground in the Teanaway Valley area of Cle Elum, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Kayser hired Range Ride Bill Johnson to drive his cattle, and act as a human intervention to deter wolf depredation of his livestock.

The cattlemen proposed collaborating with state and local officials to collar more wolves, more closely monitor packs and more efficiently haze predators. Two sheriffs and county commissioners in all four northeast Washington counties endorsed the plan.

The application, however, was opposed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fish and Wildlife said the cattlemen’s proposal wasn’t in line with lawmakers’ direction to use the money for community-based non-lethal measures.

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Washington Department Fish and Wildlife did not have objections to funding the nonprofit group or individual ranches. The state Department of Agriculture will distribute the grants based on the recommendations of a four-member panel representing conservation districts in Ferry, Okanogan, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.

Fish and Wildlife already spends about $400,000 year to help ranchers pay for non-lethal measures to guard livestock from wolves.