Report: US spent $200K to protect farmer's cattle

January 8, 2014

ONTONAGON, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. government paid more than $200,000 to help an Upper Peninsula farmer protect his cattle from wolves, according to a published report.

MLive.com said it made the estimate based on documents it reviewed. Much of the expense was in administrative time and field work, besides about $38,000 in cash for cattle-loss claims by Ontonagon County farmer John Koski and other assistance, it said.

"The amount of effort ... provided is significant," wrote Brian Roell, wildlife biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in Marquette.

The state agency has said that Koski's heavy livestock losses weren't the primary reason for last year's first wolf hunt in Michigan since the animal was placed on the endangered species list nearly four decades ago.

The Associated Press left a message Wednesday seeking comment with his attorney, Matthew Tingstad.

Last year, Koski was charged with animal cruelty involving donkeys the state supplied to protect his cattle from wolves.

Koski has taken few if any steps to deal with losses to wolves, despite the government aid, Roell said.

"Nothing has changed on the farm over the years except one of the barns collapsed a few years ago," the biologist wrote. "The fences are still in horrible need of repair, portions of the large pasture are forest or shrub-lands, and husbandry practices have not changed. Yet he has done nothing to help himself."

"In recent years, (the U.S. government) has really become cattle guards for Mr. Koski given the amount of time they have spent on this farm."

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press: MLive.com, www.mlive.com