Wednesday, July 31, 2013

County eliminates fee for carcass disposa

Goal is to reduce wolf depredation


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

    As part of an effort to keep wolves off range lands, livestock producers will no longer have to pay a fee to dispose of animal carcasses at the Ohio Gulch and Carey transfer stations.
    During a meeting Tuesday at the old Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey, the county commissioners voted unanimously to eliminate the fee for a year beginning Thursday, Aug. 1. The program would continue if it is deemed to have had positive effects.
    The idea was proposed by Commissioner Larry Schoen, who said he learned during a workshop on predator deterrence held this spring by the nonprofit group Defenders of Wildlife that carcasses draw wolves to livestock herds. He said research has shown that wolf packs’ travel patterns include carcass disposal pits.
    Local pro-wolf advocates have criticized the owners of ranches that have experienced wolf depredation for leaving carcasses on their ranges.
    “I think [this program] sends a message that Blaine County supports its livestock producers and that it supports the conservation of wildlife that come into contact with humans,” Schoen said.
    The county currently charges $55 per ton for carcass disposal at Ohio Gulch, and $15 for a large animal and $5 for a calf-size animal or smaller at the Carey transfer station. Josh Bartlome, executive director of Southern Idaho Solid Waste, which manages the transfer stations, said the fees bring in less than $1,000 annually.
    In an interview, Schoen said he did not know whether the fees have dissuaded ranchers from bringing carcasses to the transfer stations, but that he hopes this pilot program would help to find out.
    Bartlome said records will be kept of how many carcasses are brought in and what caused the animals’ deaths.
    “We’ll have to see what happens,” he said. “We’ll review it after a year to see if the program’s a success.”
    Commissioner Angenie McCleary said merely publicizing the issue could motivate some livestock producers to get carcasses off their ranges.
    Under Southern Idaho Solid Waste’s rules, ranchers can dispose of only two large animal carcasses at a transfer station in one day. Prior notice is required.
    Bartlome said the carcasses are mixed with the solid waste, which is transported to the Milner Butte landfill near Burley.
Greg Moore: gmoore@mtexpress.com




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