In the latest tug-of-war between area ranchers and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, it appears the only winners are going to be the lawyers representing the two parties.
Two weeks ago, the G&F commission significantly reduced two claims submitted by area ranchers for livestock losses due to predation by wolves and grizzlies.
The two ranchers, one from Crandall and one from Thermopolis, had submitted claims for livestock losses totaling $442,980 and had those claims reduced to $83,365.
The real loss to the ranchers was undoubtedly somewhere in between what they claimed and what they were granted.
We can certainly appreciate both sides of the disagreement.
The ranchers clearly want to be able to operate a business without having to deal with losses from predators they aren’t legally allowed to control and then to be compensated for those losses.
The G&F has a responsibility to protect the gray wolf and grizzly bear populations while reimbursing ranchers for losses.
It’s the huge disparity in what the ranchers claim in losses and what the G&F awards in reimbursements that is the problem.
And that’s where the lawyers come in.
Ranchers should be reimbursed for actual damages, multipliers for calf losses and other costs directly associated with their claims, not just the per head cost of losing livestock. But exactly how much are those actual damages worth and what can legitimately be claimed?
Jalie Meinecke, the attorney for the Crandall rancher, has already promised legal action.
She said at the hearing she plans to use financial statements regarding the claim “when we get to district court.”
It’s unfortunate these livestock-loss claims cannot be settled without lawsuits.
The whole situation is troubling, but unfortunately we don’t see an easy resolution to the problem.