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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Senate Debates Who Should Pay For Livestock Killed By Lions

Ranchers who lose livestock to mountain lion attacks would get compensation from the state of Montana under a bill the Senate approved Friday. The state already pays ranchers who lose animals to wolves and grizzly bears. Hamilton Republican Pat Connell says mountain lions are a scourge for Montana’s ranchers.

“Once the senior lion gets a taste for sheep, for calves and for other livestock, they don’t go away; and then it becomes an issue of threat to the people who live there also," Connell said.

A Montana State University Wildlife specialist says mountain lions account for about one-fifth of the livestock killed by predators in western states every year.

Republican Debby Barrett was one of several Senators who spoke against the bill. She said the real problem was the state’s failure to control predator populations:

“We have an agency that’s supposed to manage all wildlife. There’s area by area population management objectives that are to be met. And the hunting is based on that."

Barrett said the state Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks should have to pay for livestock lost to predators. The money currently comes from the state’s general fund. The bill passed on a 34 to 16 vote and gets one more vote in the Senate before going to the House.

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