Tester pushes bill to compensate Montana ranchers

Measure compensates ranchers who lose livestock to wolves

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Calling it a "bipartisan and common-sense solution" forMontanaranchers, Senator Jon Tester today pushed his legislation to compensate livestock owners whose animals are killed by wolves.

Tester put a spotlight on his bipartisan Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Acttoday during a Senate committee hearing. George Edwards of the Montana Department of Livestock was scheduled to testify during the hearing to explain the State of Montana’s support for the legislation.

Tester's measure would authorize federal money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to boost

Montana's livestock loss fund. The fund repaysMontanaranchers the full market value of animals killed by wolves.

Working across party lines, Tester and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., introduced the Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Actearlier this year—days after the federal government removed Montana's and Wyoming's gray wolves from the endangered species list.

"Montana has a smart wolf management plan, but it's time for the federal government to follow through and make sure wolves don't hurtMontanaranchers," Tester said. "This is a bipartisan and common-sense solution that will work forMontana."

The Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Actwould also allow federal grants for states to help lower the risk of wolf kills by improving fencing and grazing practices, and using guard dogs.

Today's committee hearing focused on the details of Tester's measure. Today Tester urged the Fish and Wildlife Service to support the bill because the federal agency took a lead role in delisting gray wolves.

Montana Senator Max Baucus is a cosponsor of the Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act.

"Wolves are part of the landscape of Montana, but they are also a threat to our ranchers' livestock," Baucus said. "This bill is a proactive solution that will help ensure we are protecting both our outdoor heritage and the livelihood of the ranchers who call Big Sky Country home."

The Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act. is S. 2875. The measure has the support of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Montana Department of Livestock.