Defenders Grizzly Compensation Fund clarified-

Scott McMillion’s story about the change in Defenders’ Grizzly Compensation Fund policy requires clarification. First, the change applies not specifically to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness but rather to an area within the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone defined as “Management Situation One”. “Situation One” is a zone where “grizzly bear habitat maintenance and improvement and grizzly-human conflict minimization will receive the highest priority”. Given the inevitable conflicts between sheep and grizzly bears, we feel that it is not productive to encourage sheep where there is such a great likelihood that they will be killed and the producer will suffer economic hardship.

Second, the Allestads are required by their permit to report sheep losses to the Ranger District as soon as they are found. In 2002, a grizzly killed a total of 60 sheep over a 44 day period, however these losses were not reported until the end of the season.  Had the Allestads informed the Ranger District, the Forest would have advised them to move the sheep after the first incident and remove the sheep after the second. This action would have significantly reduced and perhaps eliminated depredations by bears. In consultation with the Gallatin National Forest, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Defenders opted to pay compensation only for the eighteen sheep lost while the Allestads were in compliance with their permit.

Defenders is committed to continuing to pay compensation for verified livestock losses to grizzly bears. We reserve the right, however, to make changes to improve the program.  We do not want the promise of compensation to result in people not implementing responsible animal husbandry practices. Since 1999, Defenders has invested more than $98,000 to pay for verified livestock losses to grizzly bears and $130,000 on projects to prevent conflicts between bears and humans. We are committed to working with private citizens and agencies to help grizzly bears and humans coexist in Western Montana.

Minette Johnson
Northern Rockies Regional Representative
Defenders of Wildlife