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Man. to boost wildlife compensation, beaver bounty

Manitoba has raised the subsidy it pays to licensed trappers and municipalities to thin out the problem beaver population, and plans to raise the compensation it pays farmers for other wildlife damage.

The immediate increase in the beaver subsidy, to $20 from $15 per animal, is meant to help rural municipalities deal with an “abundance” of beavers causing substantial damage in some areas, particularly in western regions.

But the change to the province’s Problem Beaver Management Program will apply to all areas of the province and will remain in effect until March 31, 2011, the province said in a release Wednesday.

“When other means to discourage beavers have been exhausted, rural municipalities in designated areas can have licensed trappers remove beavers whose dams are causing flooding that damages roads or fields,” provincial Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie said.

Municipalities still dealing with high numbers of problem beavers will be granted “additional levels” of support if they’ve already used up their initial annual allocations, the province added.

Production vs. predators

The province in a separate release also announced plans to boost compensation for wildlife damage to 90 per cent, up from the current 80 per cent, starting in fiscal year 2011-12, followed by a move to 100 per cent in 2012-13.

Compensation will include damage caused by livestock predators (such as cows killed by wolves), big game (such as a bear damaging honey bee colonies) and migratory waterfowl (such as geese eating crops).

The current 80 per cent rate is paid out through a 60/40 federal/provincial cost-sharing agreement. The province said it will foot the bill for the upcoming increases.

“Producers are expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent wildlife damage and predator attacks including proper surveillance, storage and product management,” Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers said.

“When proper precautions fail, this compensation will ensure producers are not burdened with a financial loss.”

Thus, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp., which manages the compensation program, may require farmers to put preventive measures in place after repeat losses.

MASC then has the ability to deny future payments if farmers don’t adopt the measures as asked.

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