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Claims for wolf depredation decline in 2013

By The Associated Press
Published On: Jan 20 2014 03:10:53 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 20 2014 03:48:56 PM MST
BILLINGS, Mont. -

The number of livestock killed by wolves in Montana declined in 2013, but wildlife officials say that doesn't indicate a trend, yet.
    
In 2012, Montana ranchers filed 125 claims with the Department of Livestock's Livestock Loss Board, which paid out $102,700. Last year, the board received 96 claims and paid out just under $87,000. The 2013 payments for the first time included reimbursement for four cattle deaths in Park County attributed to a grizzly bear.
    
Livestock loss program coordinator George Edwards said that he believes the increased hunting and trapping of wolves has helped livestock producers.
    
USDA Wildlife Services state director John Steuber says he won't consider it a trend until depredations decrease for three to five consecutive years.