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Commissioners authorize cattle tax to help pay for predator control

2014-01-07T14:17:00Z 2014-01-07T17:10:59Z Commissioners authorize cattle tax to help pay for predator controlBy AL KNAUBER Independent Record Helena Independent Record
January 07, 2014 2:17 pm  • 

Cattle producers in Lewis and Clark County will be able to tax themselves to help pay for predator control.

Authorization for the tax came from the Lewis and Clark County Commission, which was presented with a petition on Tuesday asking the tax be enacted.

The tax, $1 per head on each of the 22,874 cattle in the county that are age nine months and older, will help pay the expenses incurred by the Wildlife Services Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – the federal agency responsible for much of the government predator control.

The petition came from owners representing 54 percent of the cattle in the county. It was presented to the county in November after it began to be circulated for support beginning in March.

David and Margaret Brown, who ranch in the Helena Valley and have summer range for their cattle along the Rocky Mountain Front, are among those who supported the petition.

David Brown said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he signed it when it was being circulated for signatures several months ago.

“Our problem is in summer range primarily,” he said.

“My cattle run in mountain range that is heavily occupied by four predators that causes us a lot of trouble,” Brown continued.

Wolves, black bears, grizzly bears and mountain lions all harass and prey on his cattle when on summer range, he said.

During a typical year, he said, he will lose one or two adult cows and a calf. The value of those losses is about $1,000 a head.

“The reason I supported, my tax of a dollar a head is a miniscule amount compared to those losses,” he explained.

His cattle also suffer weight loss because they are chased by predators and this is one of the more costly nonlethal problems ranchers face.

Kraig Glazier, who is the district supervisor for USDA Wildlife Services in Helena, is the sole person responsible for predator control in Lewis and Clark County. Some of those who handle predator complaints are individually responsible for several counties.

The problem the Browns encounter with cattle being chased by predators and losing weight as a result isn’t the only problem facing ranchers, he said. Harassment of cattle can also cause reduced pregnancy rates and add to the costs to feed cattle, Glazier said.

This trio of problems represents a greater cost to ranchers than do actual losses, he noted.

Having an additional $22,874 through the $1 per head tax, he said, will help respond to ranchers’ complaints.

All of the money that’s generated in the county by the tax is spent in the county, he added.

Coyotes are the primary predator of cattle in Montana as they seek out those that are calving as well as calves, Glazier said.

Last year, reports of predation that were confirmed through investigation locally amounted to $98,000 of damage to ranchers, he said, adding that this is just the value of reported damage.

Wildlife Services either kills or captures the predators that are preying on livestock, Glazier said, explaining “it depends on the animal and depends on the situation.”

Fifty three out of Montana’s 56 counties have taxes to aid in predator control and with the addition of Lewis and Clark County, 24 of those 53 counties will have taxes in place to aid in protecting cattle, Glazier said. Two other counties are in the process of enacting a tax for this purpose too.

Of those 53 counties, 47 also have taxes to aid in protecting sheep.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(17) Comments

  1. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - January 12, 2014 6:48 am
    I really don't have much issue with the notion of dealing with the cost via 'tax', but it seems to me it would have been a better measure to deal with this by means of insurance. Not every producer ranges cattle in areas of equal potential for predator loss. In our valley, many cattle producers are hardly in harms way at all and don't utilize USFS lands for summer range. So to 'tax' them at the same rate as those with cattle up in the hills of the front range is just simply unfair. Leave it to an insurance system and then producers can invest as much as they see fit to cover their personal potential for loss, and with the rewards from the insurance company, they can offset the cost of control. I think producers should be sent a bill when they ask for predator control, and the insurance system could then reimburse them if they choose to carry insurance.
  2. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - January 12, 2014 6:41 am
    Thanks, GW - Good link
  3. GreatWhite
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    GreatWhite - January 08, 2014 3:32 pm
    Project Coyote is based in Larkspur, California. Keli appears to live in Petaluma, CA.
  4. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - January 08, 2014 1:17 pm
    How do you get she is in California? I must have missed that....
  5. GreatWhite
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    GreatWhite - January 08, 2014 12:42 pm
    There have been ranchers in MT using non lethal means and it has proven quite successful here.

    There is no use discussing anything 'Wolfy' with a hater though...facts and information are of no concern to them. They only see crosshairs and hear the 'Thu-wump' of a connecting bullet.
  6. GreatWhite
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    GreatWhite - January 08, 2014 12:39 pm
    Yeah...the reciprocal...reversed 180 degrees!

    I am not sure anyone claimed you were wrong...just filled in some gaps and acknowledged something beyond what you stated. Yes, we know wolves kill things...they have to for survival purposes. But they don't kill near what some would have us believe.
  7. 6thgenntv
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    6thgenntv - January 08, 2014 11:42 am
    We will ship some of your precious wolves down there so you can try your non lethal control methods,let me know how that works out.
  8. 6thgenntv
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    6thgenntv - January 08, 2014 11:41 am
    You cant use facts as an argument with these these people,there isnt enough sense in all of them combined to make a valid argument.
  9. GreatWhite
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    GreatWhite - January 08, 2014 9:38 am
    This tax is just mainly for supplemental money from the sounds of it. To offset costs incurred from the Wildlife Services Division. It doesn't answer your question about the cost of predator control in L & C county, but here are the minutes from the last Livestock Loss Board meeting held the end of last year. It has some interesting info in it. I think beef prices had a good increase last year, approx $165.00 a cwt. (As best as I can figure, I'm not a rancher, so don't know for sure.), so depending on the size and condition of whatever cattle are preyed upon, $1000.00 could be about 3/4 or even about 1/2 the value I expect.
  10. LastBPlace
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    LastBPlace - January 08, 2014 8:56 am
    Maybe you living in California might having something to do with it. Maybe the coyotes are eating your wine grapes instead of your calves. I can't wait to hear you tell us Montanans how to keep the wolves from eating our calves, with your years of personal experience. Lastly, please explain to me..."I run 300 mother cows using only non lethal livestock protection methods." but at the end you say, "a problem predator might have to be removed on occasion." Is removing coyotes "non-lethal?
  11. GreatWhite
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    GreatWhite - January 08, 2014 8:24 am
    Point was 6thgenntv, we've been being told Wolves are the main predator of livestock, and now a comment points the previous fingers elsewhere. Yes, the wolves keep the coyotes in better check than man has ever succeeded in doing. And coyotes have been proven to be more detrimental/effective (It is all perspective after all!) at killing livestock, it's a not so uncommon fact actually. It's also known that the Pronghorn, of whick the coyotes preyed on constantly, have seen a decent comeback due to wolves being in the landscape...pronghorns are even known to give birth near wolf dens as the wolves don't tend to prey on them. It seems pretty consistent as of late that reports are coming in that wolves are not killing livestock near what they were claimed to be doing.

    Same applies to their supposed 'decimation of the Elk' statewide! Malarkey!!

    Read Keli Hendricks comment above...very good information!!

    I shall endeavor to 'get a clue' though...any ideas where I can find one??
  12. Keli Hendricks
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    Keli Hendricks - January 07, 2014 10:50 pm
    My husband and I run 300 mother cows using only non lethal livestock protection methods. Our cows calve in pastures alongside coyotes and other predators, including mountain lions in some ranges. I am also on the advisory board of Project Coyote, a national coalition of scientist and ranchers working to foster coexistence between people and wildlife.
    Our losses from predators are very low, in fact I can't remember the last time it happened. During calving, the coyotes eat the afterbirth and leave. They show no interest in taking on protective mother cows.
    Prophylactically killing coyotes because they might attack livestock is often what precipitates conflicts when they do occur. Coyote populations that are disrupted by hunting biologically respond by having larger litters and more coyotes breeding, thus creating many more mouths to feed than would otherwise be the case.
    Also, young coyotes left orphaned are more likely to attack livestock since there is no longer a stable pack to hunt and find food for each other. Both the male and female coyotes help feed their young, often helping support the diets of adolescents while they learn to hunt.
    Stable coyote populations make good neighbors. They keep rodent populations in check, and keep other predators out of their territories. A good, non-lethal livestock management program takes a little effort in the beginning, and a problem predator might have to be removed on occasion, but it will prevent the constant killing that lethal control requires, saving producers time, money and sleepless nights.
  13. Annlittle
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    Annlittle - January 07, 2014 9:41 pm
    Ever thought about the fact there are 500,000 coyotes in the state and only 1000 wolves! That puts just a few more calves in front of the hungry mouth of a coyote! Simple math. The article didn't say wolves are NOT eating cows, because they sure are. But everyone knows that.
  14. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - January 07, 2014 6:47 pm
    its not put upon 'tax payers', it is the producers who are paying the tax to cover the cost of removing problem predators.

    What the article doesn't address (Hello IR - do you ever ask the important questions?!), is what the cost of predator control is for this county. We understand that a lost cow or yearling can cost a rancher nearly $1000 (why does that seem high to me?), but we don't know if this tax, that will produce almost $23,000, is sufficient to cover the costs of control.
  15. korme7
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    korme7 - January 07, 2014 6:38 pm
    Ranchers choose to run livestock in areas where there are predators without protection and want to be reimbursed when they are effected by what any natural predator will do. Protect your livestock, if they are important to you. It shouldn't be a tax issue, or put upon tax payers.
  16. 6thgenntv
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    6thgenntv - January 07, 2014 4:50 pm
    Primary because most cattle are kept in coyote home ranges,not in wolves.In areas where wolves are prevalent there are very few coyotes left because the wolves eat them,along with cattle.In wolves home ranges they are the primary predator,and they do prey on cattle,get a clue.
  17. GreatWhite
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    GreatWhite - January 07, 2014 3:22 pm
    "Coyotes are the primary predator of cattle in Montana as they seek out those that are calving as well as calves, Glazier said."

    Well now, finally the truth comes out. And for soooooooooo long the claim has been that it was the Wolves!!

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