Date of this Version
Financial compensation for damages caused by wildlife is an alternative to lethal wildlife damage management techniques, but little is known about the use of these programs in North America. We conducted surveys requesting information on wildlife species and type of damage covered by compensation programs, annual cost of programs, and the monitoring and assessment of program success to the wildlife agencies of all states and Canadian provinces. We also requested information on programs providing producers with damage-abatement materials instead of or in addition to financial compensation. All states and provinces responded to our survey. Nineteen states and 7 provinces had compensation programs, and 34 states and 7 provinces provided damage-abatement materials. Most programs were funded by the state, but private and federal organizations also funded some programs. Deer (Odocoileus spp.) were the most common species in compensation programs (in 14 states and provinces) followed by bear (Ursus spp.; in 12), elk (Cervus elaphus; in l0), moose (Alces alces; in 7), waterfowl (in 6), pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana; in 6), wolves (Canis spp.; in 5), mountain lions (Puma concolor; in 4), and coyotes (Canis latrans; in 3). Compensation programs involving ungulates included damage to cultivated crops (in all 15 states and provinces), standing hay crops and pastures (in 51, stored hay (in 6), and damage to other property including fencing and irrigation equipment (in 8). Programs tor predators involved livestock losses. Programs for bears involved damage to crops, livestock, and beekeeping equipment. In general, compensation programs were established for problems that were recent in origin, exacerbated by governmental actions, or caused by highly valued species. Few states or provinces had formal evaluation procedures for their programs. Given the expense of compensation programs and divided opinions about the programs, we recommend that all states and provinces implement a formal review system.