The federal government will help ranchers in 10 states deal with livestock depredation caused by wolves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced April 1 that $1 million in matching grants will be distributed to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona, Michigan and New Mexico.

The funds are part of a new demonstration program intended to help livestock producers reduce predation by wolves or to compensate them for losses.

One of the primary goals is to help producers reduce the risk of predation without killing wolves.

"The true value of the program lies in its ability to both provide compensation to producers and support non-lethal activities to minimize their livestock losses from wolves," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould said in a news release.

"Wolf populations are expanding in several parts of the nation and this grant program gives us another tool to help states minimize conflict where wolves and human activities overlap," he said.

Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Wisconsin will each receive $140,000. Minnesota will receive $100,000, Michigan $90,000, Arizona and New Mexico $60,000 each and Oregon and Washington $15,000 each.

The funding allocation was based on depredation of livestock by wolves, the number of wolves in each state and the need in each state.

The grants require the states to put up an equal amount in matching funds.

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch both welcomed the announcement.

"Significantly, the federal government is acknowledging responsibility for these losses that ranchers suffer," Crapo said in a news release.

The federal government made the right decision when it removed gray wolves from the endangered species list, but more action is needed, Crapo said.

"The funding is necessary to provide compensation to producers and support non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock losses from wolves," he said.

-- Dave Wilkins

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