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Oregon ranchers could get tax credit for livestock killed by wolves

By Harry Esteve, The Oregonian

SALEM — Ranchers would qualify for a tax credit if their livestock falls prey to wolves under a bill passed Wednesday by the Oregon House.

The bill, which won 55-5 and now goes to the Senate, sets aside $37,500 a year to compensate ranchers who can prove that a wolf killed one of their animals. The tax credit would not remove or supplant a $100,000 fund established by the state for the same purpose.

“This bill is not, let me underline that, is not a kill bill as far as wolves are concerned,” said Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, who sponsored House Bill 4005. Instead, it simply aims to compensate ranchers for their losses.

Jenson said wolves from the Imnaha pack near Joseph in Eastern Oregon have been feeding on livestock. Wolves were re-introduced relatively recently in the far edge of the state as part of an effort

“If you want wolves, hey, we ought to be willing to pay the price,” Jenson said.

To some, however, the use of tax credits for compensation is a bit of a head-scratcher, especially since the state already has money set aside to pay ranchers.

“It has not been explained in any kind of adequate way why a tax credit is the appropriate mechanism,” said Rep. Jules Bailey, D-Portland, who voted against the bill. Why not simply add the money to the already established livestock compensation fund, which would be much more efficient, he asked.

Odder still, the bill was listed as part of the budget balancing deal agreed to by legislative leaders from both parties. Its inclusion in the deal was not explained Wednesday.