No more predator control funding

Cariboo-Chilcotin farmers and ranchers have been left largely to their own devices when it comes to protecting their livestock.

For now, the funding has ceased for the mitigation portion of the Predator Control program, which consisted of two consecutive pilot projects under the direction of the Investment Agriculture Foundation with some funds provided by the provincial government.

Ranchers are now responsible for covering 50 per cent of the cost of having problem wildlife legally tracked and disposed of, a cost that’s prohibitive, says Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association.

“We hope in the February budget this will be addressed,” says Boon, noting that the government’s standing committee of finance has indicated that it supported the program at the cost of between $350,000 to $500,000 a year.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett insists ranchers need stability and says the government is working on it.

“The last time I talked to the minister’s office they were still working on something so hopefully in the not too distant future we’ll have some news,” Barnett says. In this area, wolves are the biggest concern; so too are bears and cougars.

However, the latter two, Boon says, are easier to handle.

“They aren’t as elusive and they tend not to reproduce as quickly,” Boon says.

The wolf population, he suggests, is “basically out of control.”

During the summer months ranch animals experience higher mortality as predators’ young are being taught to hunt.

“Cattle become vulnerable because they are easy prey. They are not quite as fleet of foot as deer and are easier to put down for the predator.”

Boon estimates that a herd of 500 cattle turned out to pasture in the spring may come back up to 50 head short. Those loses are due to predation, illness, and injury, and the loses can add up to thousands of dollars.

“We’re kind of in that wait-and-see mode right now,” says Boon of the situation.

“We’ve put forward several requests to government as wildlife is their responsibility. They’ve indicated that they understand the problem and they want to try to help on it.”

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