In West Virginia a State House bill could create a voluntary tax that would create funding to help protect cattle from predators, especially coyotes.
Del. Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) and Del. Allen Evans (R-Grant) are cosponsoring House Bill 3027 in the West Virginia House of Delegates. The bill would create a 50 cent per head of cattle tax assessment for county assessors to collect with personal property taxes. Money would go towards the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s coyote control program in West Virginia.
The tax proceeds would go towards the M-44 cyanide device that is only authorized for use by the USDA to control predators like coyotes.
”In short, the state of West Virginia pays the USDA somewhere between $200,000 to $400,000 a year in matching funds to continue with the USDA Wildlife Predator Program. This program is designed to take care of coyotes among other predators,” Sponaugle says.
The legislation was requested by members of the Pendleton County Farm Bureau where Sponaugle and Evans both have constituents. The West Virginia Farm Bureau reviewed and approved the bill prior to its proposal in the House Agriculture Committee last year, but was stalled in the Finance Committee.
It is estimated that predators kill approximately 500 calves in West Virginia each year, costing $465,000 in economic losses to producers.
Cattlemen who don’t want to participate in the predator control program don’t have to pay the assessment says Sponaugle.
West Virginia already has a mandatory tax in place for sheep and goats to control coyotes. It is double the price at $1 per head.
West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt supports the cattle predator tax because it is voluntary.
“I like that it’s voluntary,” Leonhardt says. “It’s really not a tax at all, more like insurance for cattle.”