USFWS Wolf Livestock Demonstration Project Grants
Post date: Apr 26, 2015 5:31:02 PM
To: U.S. Senator Al Franken.
Re: MN Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Pilot Program.
I would thank you for your reply to my 2017 complaint about S. 1514, the so-called "HELP for Wildlife Act"--except that it's just a copy of your uninformative reply to my similar complaint against the weakening of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) two years before.
In 2015, I complained to you about amendments that were being proposed to the ESA that would, as I described them, "weaken the ESA, either by delisting species, delaying listings, or interfering with the due process of environmental protection."
In your 2015 reply, you expressed your limited support for the protection of the Gray Wolf in Minnesota as long as it could be done "without threatening Minnesotans, their livestock or pets." At the same time, you expressed your full support for 1) the "continued funding for the USFWS Wolf-Livestock Demonstration Project Grant program," and 2) the restoration of funding to "USDA gray wolf management and technical assistance programs, which provide relief for farmers and ranchers suffering livestock losses when preventative measures fail."
Disappointed by your 2015 reply, I wrote to remind you about a major problem with that USFWS program in Minnesota: the state of Minnesota has participated only in the lethal part of the program, declining to apply for grants to assist with non-lethal depredation control.
So imagine my disappointment when, in 2017, I wrote to you again about protection for the Gray Wolf, and received the same reply from you, without any mention of the Minnesota problem.
I won't try, today, to get into all of the problems with your boilerplate position on the subject of the ESA and the Gray Wolf; but I'd like to focus on one area in which your genuine response and participation would be invaluable.
There's been a positive development in Minnesota: we now have a non-lethal depredation-control program! The Minnesota "Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Pilot Program" was created in Minnesota Session Law, 2017, Chapter 88 to assist livestock producers with non-lethal depredation control. It should qualify for matching federal funds through the [USFWS] Wolf-Livestock Demonstration Project Grant program, but I haven't yet heard whether the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture has applied for the matching federal funds.
It would be great if you would encourage them to do so.
Re: USFWS Wolf Livestock Demonstration Project Grants.
Thank you for your response to my letter warning against legislative Gray Wolf management. I support scientific Gray Wolf management (including independent peer review, and excluding political and industrial overrides).
Your reply referred me to the USFWS Wolf Livestock Demonstration Project Grant program (FederalGrants 2014), which, as you correctly pointed out, is available "to help farmers and ranchers deploy preventative measures against wolf predation and to compensate them when losses do occur."
You should know that of that two-part federal program, one part has been ignored by the State of Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources.
Unfortunately, Minnesota officials have declined to support Minnesota livestock producers through "preventative measures against wolf predation." (Smith 2010, USFWS 2013, USFWS 2014). Whether this is due to the personal beliefs of these officials about the effectiveness of these measures, or to the stress of the political and industrial pressures these officials find themselves under; they have chosen to ignore non-lethal measures, and concentrate instead on lethal measures and compensation funding.
Minnesota livestock producers are not required to take precautions to protect their livestock from depredation. All they need to do is call the federal trappers to remove all of the wolves from the area, and then file for compensation for their losses.
You're right to expect non-lethal precautions to be a precondition for lethal control and a requirement for compensation, but that's not the way things are.
But let's get back to the beginning; I wrote to ask you not to short-circuit the process of Gray Wolf delisting with a legislative workaround.
The proper process of Gray Wolf delisting includes an orderly transfer of management activities to the States, according to their Wolf Management Plans. Minnesota has a decent Plan, but as a federal court has now pointed out, it wasn't complete, it wasn't examined for completeness, and it wasn't followed completely. It skipped Zone B, and it skipped non-lethal depredation control.
We need to follow a proper process of Gray Wolf delisting that can stand up to legal and scientific examination. I hope you will look into the matter further, and support that process.
FederalGrants. 2014. “Wolf-Livestock Demonstration Project Grant Program (WLDPGP).” Federal Grants.
Smith, Paul. 2010. "Feds Announce New Wolf Depredation Funds to Wisconsin, Other States." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 1.
USFWS. 2013. FY 2014 Wolf-Livestock Demonstration Project Grants. U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Indexed at
USFWS. 2014. FY 2014 Wolf-Livestock Demonstration Project Grants. U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service.