WHEREAS producers are absorbing the cost of livestock lost due to increased wolf predation occurring along Crown land; and
WHEREAS program funding varies by the amount of licenses collected, which varies from year to year; and
WHEREAS the officers doing the investigations are not left with final say on the cause of the animals’ demise, or the eligibility of compensation if the carcass is found or not; and
WHEREAS the criteria of eligibility excludes a variety of livestock producers; and
WHEREAS municipalities are absorbing the cost of wolf bounties and predator control programs in the province; and
WHEREAS there are insufficient Fish and Wildlife staff to monitor and control the predator population in the Crown land bordering agricultural areas;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that all relevant Government of Alberta ministries review the current staffing situation, program administration, budgets, and funding source of the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program to ensure its effectiveness; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal District and Counties request that all relevant Government of Alberta ministries implement a monitoring and assessment program to ensure that predators, inclusive of wolves, bears, and cougars, are dealt with proactively.
Livestock producers believe the program should
A link to the complete resolution background can be found at the Northern Sunrise County website at www.northernsunrise.net.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
In Alberta, livestock predation benefits are administered by Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD). The Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) administers benefits for crop damage and loss due to wild animals through the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (WDCP). The program is intended to compensate producers for damages caused by protected wildlife that are beyond a producer’s control. Through the AFSC, the GOA has committed to providing assistance in circumstances beyond a producer’s control.
However, producers continue to have a role in identifying and mitigating those same risks. The AFSC is in the early stages of developing a pilot mortality insurance program for livestock. Should the program move beyond the design phase, it would insure against hog mortality and, while the insured perils have yet to be determined, would likely include disease risk.
It is too early to say how any mortality insurance program would interact with the current WDCP. However, because livestock predation is already covered under the WDCP, it is unlikely to be listed as an insurable peril under any mortality insurance program. If the proposed Hog Mortality Insurance Program is successful, it could potentially be expanded to other types of livestock. Saskatchewan does not have any kind of mortality insurance for livestock, but does have a wildlife compensation program that is delivered by the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation. It is not an insurance program, but a compensation program for deaths.
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD)
Alberta’s Wildlife Predator Compensation Program provides compensation for eligible livestock (cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, and bison) that are killed or injured by predators (bears, wolves, cougars, and eagles). The program is intended to provide coverage for food-producing animals at the average market value for the type and class of animal lost. A committee made up of representatives from ESRD, the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development recently reviewed the program.
Under the program review, horses were considered but not included for compensation because there is not a significant meat market for horse. Horses that have been attacked by predators are usually not being raised for meat and are for personal use or working stock.
In order to maintain the credibility of the program, it is imperative that livestock losses be confirmed as being killed or injured by predators. Compensation for missing animals is not possible as there is no means of verifying that the animal was killed by predation. The program review did not recommend expending compensation for missing livestock. Predators are opportunists and may be found feeding on livestock carcasses that have died from other causes; hence, the rationale for confirming predation within the program.
Justice and Solicitor General and ESRD are actively involved with predator control including the use of toxicants, trapping, shooting, and working with registered and resident trappers to address conflict situations. All officers have extensive training in predator management.
An agreement was reached with Agriculture Canada to assist with compensation funding. Enhanced funding was recommended and should be implemented this year once the memorandum of understanding with Agriculture Canada is finalized.
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
ESRD is responsible for wildlife management and administration of the Livestock Predator Compensation Program. The Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch of Justice and Solicitor General is responsible for delivering some operational elements of the program, including the control of certain predator species. Working within the parameters set out in the program, fish and wildlife officers investigate predator attacks on livestock and make recommendations about compensation eligibility to ESRD.
With respect to fish and wildlife officer staffing levels, Justice and Solicitor General continues to maintain a full staff complement by promptly recruiting new officers to fill existing vacancies.
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
The WDCP has been reviewed as part of the Results-based Budgeting initiative, a cross-ministry process that examines all Alberta government programs and services to ensure they are relevant to Albertans and are delivered effectively and efficiently. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development led the review of the WDCP and is responsible for the implementation of recommendations.
The Government of Alberta’s response to the more recent resolution, 7-16S: Wildlife Damage Compensation Program indicates that Alberta Environment and Parks is aware of the weaknesses of the current Wildlife Damage Compensation Program identified in the resolution and are undertaking a program review to address issues related to funding and to proving wildlife predation. The review will involve the participation of other ministries involved in administering the Program.
The Alberta Beef Producers have similar concerns with livestock predation. The AAMDC will continue to monitor this issue and explore opportunities for joint advocacy in the future.
This resolution is assigned a status of Accepted in Part, and the AAMDC will follow up with Alberta Environment and Parks on the status of the review.