AOC and seven other stakeholder organizations joined ranks to urge the Joint Ways & Means Committee to restore the state share of funding to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services (WLS) through the budgets of the Departments of Fish & Wildlife and Agriculture. The Governor’s Recommended Budget zeroed out the state biennial contribution of over $900,000, leaving counties holding the bag for support of this valuable wildlife control service in Oregon.
AOC also submitted a separate statement to the Natural Resources Subcommittee of Ways & Means pointing out that the 26 counties that provide funding pay more than $2.5 million per biennium for WLS. As stated by the coalition: “Oregon’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and rural and urban communities see significant damage due to wildlife each year. WS provides a wide range of services to communities, including safety around airports and helping reduce agriculture depredation losses by beavers, cougars, coyotes, elk, Canada geese, and other wildlife. These losses can exceed several thousand annually.
WS plays a crucial role managing these human-wildlife conflicts and protecting crops, livestock, and pets from loss. The challenge to maintain a sufficient level of state funding has been ongoing for years. This is a recurring issue both through the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) budget and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) budget. Once again, we face a situation where the funding for predator control has been cut from both agencies. It is essential to understand that this is a cooperatively funded program, including state funds, federal funds, and participating counties. And for a number of years, diminishing state funds have put a strain on counties.
WS addresses a great diversity of human-wildlife conflicts in the state. The partnership with ODA, ODFW, counties, and WS benefits Oregon wildlife and agriculture. Our coalition respectfully asks that the committee restore $ 470,140 to WS predator control in the ODFW budget.”
Coalition members are: AOC, Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Sheep Growers Association., Oregon Hunters Association., Oregon Cattlemen’s Association., Oregon Seed Council, Oregonians for Food & Shelter, and Oregon Forest & Industries Council.
Contributed by: Gil Riddell | AOC Policy Director