Pilot program awards $35K to farm operations using non-lethal wildlife deterrents to protect livestock and crops

Livestock guardian dog and sheep

Last week, the Benton County Agriculture and Wildlife Protection Program (AWPP) awarded $35,363 in grant funds to eight Benton County farms to encourage the use of wildlife-friendly animal damage deterrents to prevent conflicts with wildlife.

Awards were made based upon the applicant's philosophy of animal damage control and the likely effectiveness of the proposed non-lethal deterrents project plan. The funds will be used to purchase a wide variety of non-lethal wildlife deterrents to protect livestock and crops including livestock guardian dogs, electrified fencing, electronic scare devices, and protective housing.

“On behalf of the staff and Board of Directors at Chintimini Wildlife Center, we are so excited to see this first round of grants awarded,” said Sarah Spangler, Executive Director of the Chintimini Wildlife Center.

“We are proud to partner with Benton County, OSU Extension Service, and each of our applicants in this effort to shift away from lethal methods. By providing local farmers with the right tools to take preventative action toward protecting their crops and livestock, we have in turn protected the wildlife with whom they may have conflicted.”

Four of the farms plan to protect livestock, three of the farms plan to protect livestock and crops, and one farm plans to protect crops only. Amounts awarded range from $2,621 to the maximum allowed of $5,000. The farms range in size from 4 to 102 acres. Four of the farms are located in Philomath, two in Corvallis, one in Alsea, and one in Blodgett.

“We are pleased by the number of applications we received in the first year of this pilot program, and we’re most excited by the range of farm operations that will be impacted,” said Laurie Starha, Benton County Natural Areas and Parks Director.

“Two of the farms are using wildlife friendly non-lethal deterrents for the first time. Five of the farms have used non-selective lethal animal damage control methods in the past and have agreed to not use traps, snares, calling-and-shooting, or poisons for the next three years as part of the grant application process.”

In June 2017, the Benton County Budget Committee approved a two-year pilot program to encourage the proactive use of non-lethal animal damage deterrents in an effort to foster the coexistence of agriculture and wildlife in Benton County.

The pilot Benton County Agriculture and Wildlife Protection Program (AWPP) funds (1) educational outreach and expert consultation services and (2) a merit-based, cost share, reimbursement grant program.

A competitive grant program was made available to agricultural operations in Benton County that wish to prevent conflicts with wildlife. Applicants could qualify for up to $5,000 in reimbursement grant funds for the purchase of proactive non-lethal wildlife deterrents to protect livestock and crops.

This new community-based program is funded and managed by Benton County in partnership with an advisory committee comprised of citizen volunteers, and representatives from Oregon State University Extension Service, and Chintimini Wildlife Center, and Program Advisors. The Program Advisors include experts in ranching with wildlife, predator ecology, and human-carnivore conflict.

Learn more about the AWPP at co.benton.or.us/awpp.