Hoping to ease Washington ranchers' concern about gray wolves, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing what may be the most generous compensation in the West for livestock losses to the newly returned predators.

Under the preferred plan out of five alternatives in a 249-page draft environmental impact statement released last week, a livestock producer would be entitled to the full value of livestock considered likely prey that are killed by wolves on grazing sites of at least 100 acres and half the full value on smaller sites.

For animals considered less likely prey, compensation would be double the full value of the animal on larger grazing sites and the full value on smaller sites, writes the Associated Press.

The proposal defines livestock as cattle, pigs, horses, mules, sheep, llamas, goats, guarding animals and herding dogs. The plan, which is subject to approval and funding by the Legislature, could cost an estimated $4,000 in 2010, rising to $25,000 in 2015 as the wolf population grows.

"Wolves need two things," state agency spokeswoman Madonna Luers told The Wenatchee World. "They don't need land-use restrictions. They just need a healthy prey base and human tolerance, so to build that, we need to reach out to the industry that is most directly impacted by this, and that is the livestock industry."

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