DOW offers materials to protect crops

Fencing provided free of charge to agricultural producers

— Ranchers, farmers and landowners still have time to order free fencing materials to protect their hay and crops from winter wildlife damage.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife provides protective fencing materials at no charge to agricultural producers. DOW staff helps landowners design the best protective system and then delivers the materials directly to the building site. It is the responsibility of the landowner to assemble and maintain the fence.

"We help qualified farmers, ranchers, beekeepers and vineyard and orchard owners to protect their investments," said Don Masden, the DOW's game damage coordinator. "By taking advantage of our program, agricultural producers will save themselves thousands of dollars in the shortterm and the long-term."

Those already participating in the program can order materials to fix their fences.

Those in Moffat County who are not participating and are having problems with wildlife damage should call the Meeker DOW office at 878-6090. A district wildlife manager will go to the site to discuss damage problems, design the enclosure and explain eligibility for the program.

J. Wenum, area wildlife manager in Gunnison, said helping ranchers protect hay stacks is a high priority for the DOW.

"Building a stackyard is not an absolute cure-all, but it is a significant step in lessening conflicts," Wenum said. "Elk are like most animals; if they are not getting the reward of a food source, they're going to move on."

Every year, the DOW pays agricultural producers for damage to crops and livestock caused by wildlife. In fiscal year 2007-08, the DOW paid $965,000 in claims to producers statewide.

Producers who are having game damage problems must report problems within 10 days to the DOW. The claim is then investigated to determine the exact cause. Any agricultural producer experiencing wildlife-related damage must take mitigation measures.

The DOW urged landowners to take precautions before winter weather arrives. Call the Meeker DOW office at 878-6090 for more information.

"We have plenty of good weather left until the snow flies," Masden said. "This is the time of year to make sure your crops are secure for the winter."

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