Compensation available for sheep losses Province has come through with retroactive compensation for predation losses

by BARBARA JOHNSTONE GRIMMER VICTORIA – There is good news at last for sheep

producers who have lost sheep to predators. In a statement to Country Life in BC, the BC Ministry of Agriculture announced the provincial government is funding a new compensation program for verified sheep losses caused by wild predators retroactive to April 1, 2017. Payments resulting from claims between April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 are being processed and will be paid through the Agriculture Wildlife Program (AWP). After April 1, 2018, compensation for sheep lost to predation will be cost-shared between the federal (60%) and provincial (40%) governments through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Compensation values are expected to be evaluated annually based on the fair market value of rams, ewes and lambs based on age or weight. Compensation will be 80% of the animal’s market value. There will be a $1,000 annual threshold – the amount of losses that must be met before a claim will be processed. The $1,000 threshold, however, will be included in the claim when a payment occurs. There is also a second claim method if a

producer has a catastrophic loss exceeding $300 for a single predation event. This second method allows assistance for producers with smaller flocks.

Predation costs Predation has both direct costs to producers and

indirect costs to others in the supply chain. A 2010 economic assessment of wildlife predation of sheep in BC estimated an annual reduction in GDP

of $1.2 million. There is an overlap between agricultural lands and wildlife habitat, and some level of losses are to be expected. According to the ministry, the program will only cover losses that are beyond a producer’s ability to control through best management practices (BMP) and beyond what is considered normal-level operational losses. Ministry staff worked with the BC Sheep

Federation (BCSF) to design the compensation protocols. “An advisory committee of four sheep producers

worked with the business risk management branch of the BC Ministry of Agriculture on the compensation program,” explains Valerie Moilliet Gerber, president of BCSF. “Each producer is from a different part of the province, with different farm types and predator issues. All predators are covered under the program, including raptors and ravens, but not domestic dogs.” The province has also implemented the

Livestock Protection Program (LPP) through the BC Cattlemen’s Association, which verifies problem wolf-and coyote-caused deaths and injuries of cattle and sheep and provides predator control and mitigation services to producers. The BCSF provides input to the LPP. The AWP predation activities have historically

focused predominantly on compensation, but the ministry is shifting to include prevention and mitigation strategies in the program as well. From 2009 to 2011, the wild predator loss prevention and mitigation pilot project concentrated on the development of prevention measures to help reduce predation of sheep. To receive compensation, producers will also need to verify that risk management practices are in place to

prevent wildlife predation. Some approved methods are fencing, guardian dogs, lights and noise.

Verification training

Now that a compensation program is in place, it will be critical for producers to have their livestock kills verified by a conservation officer or a person trained to verify predation kills in order to receive financial compensation. Producers are encouraged to receive training to become verifiers through the BC Conservation Officer Service. “The advantage to farmers is that they can verify

their own kills or those of a neighbour and get paid a fee for doing the verifying as well as get some compensation for their livestock,” says Lorraine Buchanan of Parry Bay Sheep Farm in Metchosin. “Even if farmers do not currently have a problem with predators killing their sheep, it is worth taking this course. We had no bear issue until five years ago, but it has been getting worse and worse since then and this year there have been over 65 sheep killed in our small area.” Because of this, LPP administrators have suggested a course in that region to allow farmers and others on the island to train to be verifiers. A carcass can be picked clean by scavengers in a day and the evidence is gone by the time a conservation officer can get out to see it. Having more verifiers will help with this problem. It is important that producers take photographic evidence of the kills and protect the carcass from scavengers to aid the verification process. More information on the LPP, BMP, verification and compensation forms, is available at [].


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