The Manitoba provincial government is launching a three-year applied research project to identify and test ways to reduce economic losses from wildlife predation of cattle herds and sheep flocks, Manitoba Agriculture & Resource Development minister Blaine Pedersen announced Feb. 7.
“Wildlife predation of commercial livestock is a significant problem for Manitoba producers, with more than 2,000 commercial animals lost each year,” Pedersen said. “This results in significant economic losses to producers as well as higher costs to Manitobans through their share of compensation under the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program funded by the federal and provincial governments.”
The Manitoba government will provide a grant of up to $300,000 over three years for the Livestock Predation Prevention Project, which will be developed and led by the Livestock Predation Protection Working Group. Members of the group include the Manitoba Beef Producers, Manitoba Sheep Assn., Manitoba Goat Assn., Manitoba Trappers Assn., Manitoba Agriculture & Resource Development, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. and Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada.
“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,” Manitoba Beef Producers president Dianne Riding said. “Predation-related challenges pose a significant concern for Manitoba’s livestock producers, who pride themselves on providing quality animal care and husbandry. This project will help improve the understanding of the risks and work toward developing effective prevention and mitigation methods to reduce future losses.”
The project’s key activities will be:
• Conducting on-farm predation risk assessments and planning in consultation with producers;
• Testing on-farm predation prevention and removal practices, and
• Sharing information with producers about management practices and research project results.
Pedersen noted that the research project will target the highest-known predation areas and emerging problem areas. Currently, the highest incidence of predation occurs in the northern Interlake and Parkland regions.
The governments of Canada and Manitoba provide compensation to affected producers through the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program at up to a maximum of $3,000 per animal. This program has paid producers an average of more than $1.8 million annually in compensation in recent years.
Manitoba is the third-largest beef-producing province in Canada, with about 12% of the national beef herd. The majority of the province's cattle operations are cow/calf herds, according to the department website.