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      Farmers fight to gain fair compensation after wolf attacks

      Duane Kolpack knows firsthand what wolves can do to a farmer's livelihood. He's lost 25 animals, mostly calves, from a herd of 300 due to wolf attacks.

      "You know, the wolves are pretty aggressive animals. We've had them just within 200 feet of the house," said Kolpack.

      One by one, U.P. residents voiced their concerns Thursday to state lawmakers. In a video conference between Ironwood and Lansing, farmers told the Senate Agriculture Committee about the unfair compensation they get for livestock lost to wolves.

      Senator Tom Casperson is backing the proposal, saying, "Ensuring that property owners are fairly compensated when their animals are killed by predators is a common sense policy that needs to be strengthened, especially when those property owners are just trying to make a living."

      Currently the DNR pays farmers about $200 whenever a wolf attacks and kills an animal, particularly calves. But farmers say the numbers just don't add up.

      The DNR pays them for the loss of the calf, but the farmers say that amount doesn't cover the cost of "keeping" the mom-cow and what they would have earned on selling the calf.

      It costs $400 to breed and take care of a "mom-cow." Once a calf is born, farmers can sell it for $700-$800.

      "As we lose these animals, we lose productive life, and some are productive for ten years. And at some point, I want to retire because I'm not going to be doing this when I'm 80. And if I don't have a group of animals to sell, that's my retirement money," Kolpack added.