The Cattle Producers of Washington organization has been awarded a $397,440 state grant to prevent conflicts between cows and wolves in northeast Washington.
The amount nearly doubles state support the group got in 2019 and boosts a program running low on money. The cattlemen’s group helps about 20 ranches protect herds in Ferry and Stevens counties.
“We’ll probably be able to cover twice as many cattle,” said Stevens County rancher Scott Nielsen, the program’s director. “We will go where the need is.”
The award was the full amount the Legislature appropriated this year for grants to nonprofit groups to curb wolf-livestock conflicts.
Conservation district representatives from four counties evaluated the applications. Fish and Wildlife commented on the proposals. The state Department of Agriculture handles the paperwork.
The Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative, a range-riding program more closely associated with environmentalists, applied for $156,237, but did not receive funding.
However, the wolf-cattle collaborate did receive $320,000 directly from the Legislature for range-riders, while the Cattle Producers were shut out.
Fish and Wildlife places a high priority on increasing human presence around cattle to prevent attacks by wolves. If the attacks are apparently unstoppable by non-lethal measures, the department resorts to killing wolves, inciting legal and political turmoil.
With more money, the Cattle Producers will add conflict monitors and trail cameras. Nielsen said he expects the group will have seven riders watching cattle before mid-July.
The cameras will help riders identify where wolves are roaming, he said. “If we are not seeing wolf activity in an area, there’s no reason to spend a lot of time on it,” he said.
The Cattle Producers received a $210,600 grant in 2019. In its most recent application, the group said its program needs to grow to meet demand.
“I think it’s been a good program. I think it benefits the ranchers, and I think they’re buying into it,” Nielsen said.