A bill authorizing indemnities to be made for deaths or injuries caused by wolf, coyote, or cougar predation on livestock or pets has been introduced by state Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba).
According to Kendra Everett, Casperson’s legislative director, he was asked to address the issue by his constituents due to a growing wolf population in his district.
Wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List at the end of January; however they remain a protected, non-game species in Michigan.
Although indemnities have been required for some years, Senate Bill (SB) 996 requires a specific timeline to be met on when those indemnities are received from the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“The system is not working well,” Everett said. “So (the bill) would impose a timeline and be based more like Wisconsin’s system to make sure people are receiving adequate payments in a timely fashion.”
SB 996 requires claims to be paid within 30 days. If they are not, then the claimant is entitled to be paid double.
The amount to be paid is determined by the fair market value based on recent sales records for a maximum of $4,000 per animal in a flock or herd of livestock, or $2,500 for pets.
Everett said Casperson was asked to include pets in the bill after a wolf killed a dog on a constituent’s property.
“Farmers and property owners do what they can to protect their livestock and pets, but this is just a safeguard in case something happens, a way to provide a form of compensation,” Everett said.
SB 996 also lists a number of requirements the claimant has to meet before being eligible for an indemnity, including within 24 hours reporting finding a dead or injured animal; providing access to their property for an investigation; and filing a claim listing the type and number of animals affected, among others.
DNR Southeastern Regional Office personnel state that only coyotes — not wolves or cougars — are found in west Oakland County. Staff said they tell people to make sure they watch out for their small animals, especially cats and dogs, since coyotes have been found in every community of the county.
While coyotes can be scared away by loud noises, they will go after smaller animals — typically those less than 40 pounds, according to the DNR Southeastern Regional office.
As such, the department recommends that people don’t leave their pets on a leash or unattended. They also recommend to make sure trash containers are secured with bungee cords and that dumpsters are closed, since coyotes are known to scavenge.