BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials say the payments to ranchers for livestock killed by certain wild predators exceeded budget but were not as high as projected.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the Livestock Loss Board paid out $8,000 in claims over its $200,000 budget, dipping into cash reserves to cover last year’s bills.
Board executive director George Edwards says the board feared worse after the state Legislature added mountain lions to the list but did not increase the budget last year.
The board has reimbursed livestock owners for 40 animals killed by big cats since October. Edwards says mountain lions more often kill sheep and goats, which are less expensive than cattle.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services had estimated for mountain lion kills to cost more than $61,000 in 2016.