Fish and Game Proposes Grizzly Bear Compensation

February 7, 2008

Idaho lawmakers will hold a hearing on a proposal to compensate ranchers when grizzly bears kill livestock in eastern Idaho.

The Senate Resources and Environment Committee voted Monday to hold the hearing, likely to be scheduled for next week, after a 12-member Idaho Department of Fish and Game advisory group introduced the legislation.

The compensation would come from Fish and Game’s Big Game Depredation Fund. A deductible of $1,000 would be required before a claim could be filed.

Idaho ranchers and landowners already can be compensated by the state for damage caused by black bears and mountain lions.

Last April, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifted Endangered Species Act protections for the estimated 500 grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park. Fish and Game now manages the population in the eastern part of Idaho, thought to be about 40 bears.

Ken Marlor, chairman of the Fish and Game advisory group, said there have been a few cases of grizzlies causing damage to property in eastern Idaho. He said it’s difficult to track the incidents because the bears are always on the move, the Post Register reported.

Sharon Keifer, Fish and Game’s legislative liaison, said the proposal would only apply to grizzly bear populations not under federal protection. In northern Idaho, officials estimate about 40 grizzlies are in the Selkirk Mountains, and that population retains federal protection.

For grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem, landowners would be able to file claims when those grizzlies destroy livestock on public, state or private land. Claims could also be filed when the bears destroy berries or honey on private land.

Marlor said Cal Groen, director of Fish and Game, and Ceilia Gould, director of the Idaho Department of Agriculture, both back the plan.

Information from: Post Register,

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