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Livestock Loss Board works at revamping grant application process
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Livestock Loss Board works at revamping grant application process

Co-habiting with some of nature’s most notorious predators is part of the deal when it comes to raising livestock in Montana. With the goal of providing compensation solutions to producers, the Livestock Loss Board has come to be a very helpful asset for Montana producers.

The Livestock Loss Board was established by the 2007 Montana Legislature, and originally the board only exclusively reimbursed for confirmed or probable wolf kills. Other predators started to become more and more of a threat, so in 2013, grizzly bear depredation was added, and in 2017, mountain lion loss was also added.

George Edwards, executive director of the Livestock Loss Board, has noted that predator-caused losses have been increasing almost every year since the board began. Also of interest is the fact that grizzly bear loss claims now account for roughly two-thirds of the board’s annual reimbursements.

“There are more bears on the landscape. I mean, grizzly bears are on the prairie now,” Edwards said plainly.

The Livestock Loss Board has access to $300,000 that can be used to reimburse producers for livestock claims. The last several years have all had record payouts with each year besting the previous year, with the exception of 2020. Edwards said it was an anomaly year with no clear sign as to why numbers were lower.

In 2019, the last record year, the Livestock Loss Board paid $260,838.45 in reimbursements for confirmed or probable wolf, grizzly bear, and mountain lion losses. So far, 2021 claims are slightly ahead of 2019’s year-to-date.

“So far this year we have had 44 head of cattle killed by wolves and 69 head killed by grizzlies and right now we have already paid out about $189,000 for loss claims,” Edwards said.

If a rancher suspects they have a loss due to a wolf, grizzly bear, or mountain lion, they are encouraged to contact their local wildlife specialist. They can call the state office at 406-657-6464 if they need help finding said specialist.

Edwards says that the last quarter of the year is often when claims start flooding in. During the spring, the board sees predominately wolf-related claims, but from July onward, claims will be mostly associated to grizzly bear losses.

While the Livestock Loss Board is predominately known for reimbursing producers after predation losses, the board also offers grants that livestock owners can apply for and use for prevention tactics. Grants can be used for things like buying electric fence to fence out a calving pasture, buying a guard dog, or hiring a range rider. The board has access to $100,000 annually to disperse via grants.

Currently, the board is working on revamping the application process for their grants in an effort to make the grants more easily accessible to Montana ranchers. The new and improved application can be done online and will be a simple fill-in-the-blank style. A simplified paper copy of the applications will be available, as well.

“The basis of making the form easier is to hopefully get more people to apply for grants so we can protect just a few more head of livestock around the state,” Edwards said.

Edwards and the Livestock Loss Board are reviewing the application and making adjustments as needed. He said the new, simplified application will be available at llb.mt.gov sometime around the middle of November.

For any questions regarding the Livestock Loss Board or the grant application process, please contact George Edwards at gedwards@mt.gov.

The Prairie Star Weekly Update

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