A bill seeking to expedite the payment of compensation following livestock or pet deaths or injuries caused by wolf, coyote, or cougar predation has been introduced by state Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba). This proposed revision in an existing state program is more than reasonable and deserves swift approval.
Although these kinds of payments have been required for some time, Senate Bill (SB) 996 requires a specific timeline for compensation payments to be made by the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
SB 996 requires the state payments to be made within 30 days of a claim’s filing. If they are not, then the claimant is entitled to be paid double.
The amount to be paid would be determined by the fair market value, based on recent sales records, for killed or injured animals. Payments would be capped at a maximum of $4,000 per animal if the loss or injuries involved an entire flock or herd of livestock, or $2,500 for individual pets.
SB 996 also lists a number of requirements a claimant has to meet before being eligible for an indemnity payment, including reporting the death or injury of an animal within 24 hours of discovering it; providing access to their property for an investigation; and filing a claim listing the type and number of animals affected, among others.
State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Southeastern Regional Office personnel state that only coyotes — not wolves or cougars — are found in west Oakland County. Staff stated that they tell people to make sure they watch out for their small animals, especially cats and dogs. While coyotes can be scared away by loud noises, they will go after smaller animals — typically those less than 40 pounds. As such, the department recommends that people don’t leave their pets on a leash or unattended. They also recommend making sure trash containers are secured with bungee cords and that dumpsters are closed, since coyotes are known to scavenge.
Giving the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development 30 days to compensate animal owners following an animal loss or injury is plenty of time, and the threat of having to pay an animal owner double what was owed should be an effective deterrent against a failure to meet the 30-day deadline — particularly during this era of depressed government revenues.
At the same time, SB 996′s requirements for animal owners receiving compensation are moderate, if not common-sense actions that should precede the receipt of state compensation.
While we don’t have to worry about wolves or cougars in west Oakland County, coyotes have become all too common in the area. So, too, are the tales of pets being carried off by coyotes, making SB 996 a piece of legislation that definitely has something to offer lakes area residents who own animals.