Editorial: Compensate ranchers for killed livestock

The focus of the state of Oregon’s wolf program has been preventing attacks on livestock. But a national conservation group, Predator Defense, wants Oregon to spend all of the money of its wolf program on prevention. Ranchers would no longer be compensated for lost livestock.

That’s wrong.

The state should continue to compensate ranchers.

The state has spent a total of $292,620 on the wolf program since it began about three years ago. Most of the money has gone to prevention programs — $178,150. Only $71,653 went to compensating ranchers for livestock attacked, killed or likely missing because of a wolf.

Why shouldn’t ranchers be compensated?

Ranchers aren’t the ones doing anything wrong. They are trying to make a living. They suffer a real economic loss because of government support for reintroducing a predator that regards a rancher’s assets as dinner.

Wolf + cattle = wolf killed cattle, as State Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, has said.

It’s not like spending a bit more on prevention is going to stop wolves from taking livestock. It’s not like the loss of a calf or a lamb doesn’t matter.

So Predator Defense is arguing that somehow there is something wrong with the approach that when government does a taking, the government should try to mitigate the damage. We don’t see how it makes a difference that it’s a wild animal doing the taking.

Wolves are a danger to the livelihood of ranchers. As more pups are born, that danger is going to increase.

The reasonable policy is the one Oregon has: prevention and compensation.