WASHINGTON, D.C.—Reps. Greg Stanton and David Schweikert of Arizona, Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico and August Pfluger of Texas today introduced the bipartisan Wolf and Livestock Fairness (WOLF) Act to provide full reimbursement to ranchers for livestock harmed by endangered Mexican gray wolves.

“We’re working to advance commonsense solutions that not only promote the recovery of endangered wildlife, but also support the livelihoods of our hardworking ranchers,” the representatives said.

Once common throughout parts of the Southwestern United States, the Mexican wolf was all but eliminated from the wild due to conflicts with livestock. In 1998, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service began recovery efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. However, livestock production—mostly cattle ranching—is prominent in this area. Predation is common, which can lead to conflict between ranchers and wolves. The Sierra Club estimates at least 131 Mexican wolves have been illegally killed over the last 30 years.

Existing predator support programs reimburse ranchers and producers at just 75 percent of the market value of affected livestock, resulting in unfair reimbursement for the cost of raising livestock on land where wolves are present and a lack of sustainable, long-term incentive for livestock producers to become more tolerant of wolf presence and activity within their shared landscapes.

The WOLF Act would reimburse ranchers and producers at 100 percent of market value and establish an emergency relief program to support livestock with herds that have been adversely affected by Mexican Gray Wolves.

The legislation is supported by the Arizona Farm Bureau and the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau. 

"The ranching families living within the Mexican wolf experimental range are suffering severe losses as the population of the Mexican wolf steadily increases and applies more pressure to those cattle operations. For two decades these families have been going above and beyond to protect their animals from predation while managing the watershed and incurring escalating costs. It's just simply not fair for these families to bear the entire burden for the Mexican wolf program,” Stefanie Smallhouse, President of the Arizona Farm Bureau, said. “We applaud Congressman Stanton for championing this co-existence bill.  Not only does this bill support a sustainable future for Arizona ranchers, but it will have a positive impact on the program itself and the local communities."

New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau President Larry Reagan said, “The population of Mexican wolves continues to grow while New Mexico’s ranchers are left behind. Current depredation programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program and Wolf Livestock Loss Depredation Grant Program fail to make ranchers whole from the involuntary pressures and conflicts resulting from the growing Mexican wolf presence. We applaud Congressman Vasquez for his work on this effort to ensure depredation programs better serve our state’s ranchers by paying them a fairer rate for losses to their livelihoods.”

“As both a County Commissioner and rancher, I can attest to the heavy impacts wolf depredations have had on our ranching community.  Receiving compensation for our stock losses has been tedious and frustrating. We applaud Congressman Vasquez for his legislation that would help our ranchers receive timely compensation for wolf kills,” said Audrey McQueen, Catron County Commissioner and rancher.