Luján, Sinema, Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Endangered Wolves, Support Southwest Ranchers
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Wolf and Livestock Fairness (WOLF) Act to provide full reimbursement to ranchers for livestock harmed by endangered Mexican gray wolves.
Once common throughout parts of the Southwestern United States, the Mexican wolf was all but eliminated from the wild due to conflicts with livestock. In 1998, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service began recovery efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. However, livestock production—mostly cattle ranching—is prominent in this area. Predation is common, which can lead to conflict between ranchers and wolves. The Sierra Club estimates at least 131 Mexican wolves have been illegally killed over the last 30 years.
Existing predator support programs reimburse ranchers and producers at just 75 percent of the market value of affected livestock, resulting in unfair reimbursement for the cost of raising livestock on land where wolves are present and a lack of sustainable, long-term incentive for livestock producers to become more tolerant of wolf presence and activity within their shared landscapes.
The WOLF Act would reimburse ranchers and producers whose livestock are attacked or killed by Mexican Gray Wolves at 100 percent of market value and establish an emergency relief program to support livestock with herds that have been adversely affected by Mexican Gray Wolves.
“New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers are a lifeline for our state’s economy, and any threats to their livelihood cannot be ignored. This legislation provides bipartisan, common-sense solutions that protect endangered wildlife and provide support to our ranching communities. Ranchers are left to deal with the physical and financial harm caused to their livestock while only receiving back 75 percent of what they lost,” said Luján. “I’m introducing this legislation to support wildlife diversity in our state, fully pay back ranchers what they lost, and create an emergency relief program to support New Mexican ranchers whose herds have been impacted by the threat of wolves.”
“Arizona farmers, growers, and ranchers are essential to a healthy Arizona economy. Our commonsense, bipartisan legislation provides critical support to our ranchers by fairly paying them for livestock losses caused by Mexican gray wolves – ensuring they can continue putting food on the table for everyday families,” said Sinema.
“We applaud Senator Lujan for his support in recognizing the multiple challenges that New Mexico’s ranchers are facing in wolf country. Current predator programs like the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Wolf-Livestock Demonstration Grant Program fall short and are failing to fully serve those who utilize them. We appreciate the Senator’s attention in working to find solutions that support both wildlife and agriculture resiliency while modernizing federal programs to better serve constituents,” saidNew Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau President Larry Reagan.
Bill text is available HERE.