The province is launching a study meant to find and test ways to protect commercial livestock farmers’ animals from predators, the Manitoba government announced late Friday.
“Wildlife predation of commercial livestock is a significant problem for Manitoba producers, with more than 2,000 commercial animals lost each year,” said Agriculture Minister Blaine Pedersen in a news release.
Livestock killed by predators hits agricultural producers’ profits, but some of the costs are mitigated by government compensation.
Compensation payouts for livestock losses have cost the province and the federal government more than $1.8 million annually in recent years, the province said.
Those payouts through the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program — up to $3,000 per animal — end up costing Manitoban taxpayers, Pedersen said.
The three-year applied research study will be funded with a $300,000 grant from the province. A working group of agricultural organizations and government agencies will conduct the research.
The project will include risk assessments on farms, tests on prevention and removal of predators and information sharing with livestock producers about best practices and the research results.
“Manitoba Beef Producers has long advocated for strategies to reduce the risk of negative wildlife-livestock interaction and conflict, and we are pleased to see this important project moving forward,” read a statement from Dianne Riding, president of Manitoba Beef Producers — a member of the working group.
“This project will help improve the understanding of the risks, and work toward developing effective prevention and mitigation methods to reduce future losses.”
The working group also includes the Manitoba Sheep Association, the Manitoba Goat Association, the Manitoba Trappers Association, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development, the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
The project will be focused on known and emerging problem areas — currently, the hardest-hit areas are the northern Interlake and Parkland.