Fencing is one example of a nonlethal deterrent that can be financed in part through the Benton County Agricultural and Wildlife Protection Program (Photo by Canva)

A grant program established to help farmers protect livestock, crops and property while coexisting with wildlife will return for a sixth year, Benton County announced.

The county’s biennial budget included $47,475 in funding to continue the program, which funds nonlethal deterrents such as standard and electric fencing, audio or visual scare devices, fladry or flagging, protective animal housing and livestock guardian animals.

Agricultural operations of all sizes may apply for up to $5,000 in reimbursement funds. Property owners who are experiencing conflicts with beavers can apply year-round to purchase deterrents to protect trees and crops or prevent flooding issues.

The Agricultural and Wildlife Protection Program does not fund deterrents for deer or elk.

The program also provides information and resources to farmers regarding nonlethal wildlife deterrence and can help guide interested citizens in creating successful deterrent plans.

The biennial budget includes $5,000 for educational outreach and expert consultation services, $35,000 for the regular grant program and $7,475 for emergency grants for farmers experiencing pressing issues related to predation or beaver-related impacts which arise outside of the annual grant application window.

Grant applications may be downloaded from the AWPP webpage and submitted Oct. 1 through Nov. 30. Grant awards will be announced in early January and successful applicants will have until April 30 to install their projects and request reimbursement after a farm visit by Benton County staff.

Since 2017, the AWPP has provided 32 awards totaling $84,680 to Benton County farmers for the purchase of wildlife-friendly animal damage deterrents. Awards are made based upon the applicant’s philosophy of animal damage control, quality of application and the likely effectiveness of the proposed nonlethal deterrents project plan. Successful applicants must provide a 10% funding match via labor or materials purchases.

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