Joshua Dillen
The Baker City Herald

Baker County commissioners partially restored funding last week for coyote and raven control that was axed last year to balance the county’s budget.

Last year the county cut about $27,000 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the agency that handles predator control.

But last week the commissioners approved a contract with Wildlife Services for up to $13,138.95 for coyote and raven control in Baker County through the end of the fiscal year — June 30. Typically the county has paid the federal agency about $25,000 annually.

Commissioner Mark Bennett pointed out that the federal agency might not use the entire $13,138.

“One of the things that’s important to remember is that this is a reimbursement,” he said. “If we don’t need it, we don’t pay it.”

Bennett said commissioners approved the money partly due to requests from local ranchers.

“We’re in the calving season and the ravens and the coyotes are obviously a serious issue,” he said.

Frederick Phillips, a rancher in the Keating Valley, encouraged commissioners to commit the money to Wildlife Services. Phillips said the agency’s employees are very effective, and their work has a significant benefit on the county’s cattle industry, the largest sector of the local agriculture business with annual sales that have topped $60 million in recent years.

Phillips pointed out that reducing the raven population also helps sage grouse, as ravens are known to eat sage grouse eggs.

“It’s an effective tool there also, so I’d strongly urge the county to consider this,” Phillips said.

See more in the Feb. 28, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.