NEWS

Cattle ranchers' program to kill cougars and wolves raising concerns in South Peace

02/20/2015 08:47 EST | Updated 04/22/2015 05:59 EDT
An expert on wolves is criticizing a pilot program in B.C.'s South Peace region paying cattle ranchers for killing predators like wolves or cougars, saying it lacks transparency.

"I think the intent of these programs is good, but the efficacy of them is questionable," Paul Paquet, a senior scientist with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, told Daybreak North's George Baker.

"It's questionable for several reasons. One is the application of the program, and secondly, the lack of transparency in it....Trying to gauge or determine the performance is next to impossible."

The Livestock Protection Pilot Program was introduced in 2013 by the South Peace Cattlemen Association, as a form of financial help for cattle ranchers trying to remove wild predators.

Previously, the province would compensate cattle ranchers if a wild predator killed one of their livestock.

It is unclear how much the cattle ranchers are being paid individually to kill predators. But according to the association's records, a total of $266,000 has been paid out since 2013 and more than 400 predators have been killed.

That amounts to an average of $651 for each kill.

That money is distributed to cattle ranchers, upon proof that a predator has been killed, by the Peace River Regional District, which receives the funds through the Fair Share program.

Fair Share distributes money the province collects from the natural gas industry to pay for different community programs such as the arts, fire truck purchases, and, in this case, killing predators.

Program different from controversial wolf cull

The South Peace local cattlemen's association declined an interview with the CBC, saying it was worried listeners and readers would confuse their program with a controversial wolf cull the province is currently undertaking in the region.

The two programs are different, and the wolves and other animals the cattle ranchers are killing are not the same animals targeted in the wolf cull.

Karen Goodings, chair of the Peace River Regional District board, also told the CBC she didn't want to comment on the program, citing concerns it would be confused with the province's wolf cull.

"The program is run under the Electoral Area budget committee and we determine the success of the program through the information brought to us from the regional cattlemen who actually run the program," she said.

To hear more about the Livestock Protection Pilot Program, click the audio labelled: Program allowing cattle ranchers to kill predators lacks oversight says scientist.

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