Owners, who have worked with the department to prevent deer and elk damage and have a landowner damage prevention agreement, but continue to experience losses, may be eligible to file a damage claim and receive cash compensation. Damages payable under this section are limited to the lost or diminished value of a commercial crop, whether growing or harvested, and shall be paid only to the owner of the crop at the time of damage, without assignment.
- “Commercial crop” means a commercially raised horticultural and/or agricultural product including the growing or harvested product, but does not include livestock or rangeland. For the purposes of this chapter, commercially grown Christmas trees, managed pasture (fertilized, irrigated, or planted), and all parts of horticultural trees shall be considered a commercial crop and shall be eligible for cash compensation.
- "Damage" means economic losses caused by wildlife interactions.
- "Owner" means a person who has a legal right to commercial crops, commercial livestock, or other private property that was damaged during a wildlife interaction.
Department staff and crop owners must use state licensed and federally certified crop adjusters that are on contract. The department or the owner can accept the evaluation, or the department or the owner may hire a separate adjuster to conduct a separate evaluation. However, the party hiring the adjuster to conduct a separate evaluation is responsible for payment of all the fees. The adjuster still must be state licensed/federally certified per WAC 232-36-110, subsection 7.
- In order to qualify for compensation, the crop owner must have an active cooperative damage prevention agreement.
- A claim for deer/elk compensation will be handled by the appropriate departmental staff in the field. An initial evaluation of the claim must be done in order to determine if the claimant meets eligibility standards and the $1,000 threshold of damage, meets “Eligible Farmer” (RCW 82.08.855 (4) (B) (I) through (iv))status, meets public hunting requirements, including all claimant properties in the vicinity of damage are open to hunting, and other new WAC eligibility requirements.
- If the crop owner meets the eligibility standards, appropriate staff will provide the crop owner with the damage claim requirements and list of approved/contracted adjusters. The crop owner can then request a claim directly from the department.
- If the owner does not qualify, or they do not wish to file a damage claim, then staff will work with the owner in order to find other resolutions to help with their deer/elk damage.
- Once the owner receives the claim, the owner and the licensed/federally certified adjuster must meet and schedule an opportunity to make the assessment. Additionally, department staff will attend the evaluation so that he/she is familiar with the assessment of damages.
- The crop owner completes the damage claim using the adjusters report and the claim is mailed back to the department. The owner must supply the evaluation completed by the adjuster and all subsequent paperwork required by the damage claim & WAC 232-36-110. Upon receipt, the department will forward the file to the appropriate staff in the field for final review before payment is made.
- Departmental staff have fifteen days from receipt of the claim to evaluate and provide recommendations on whether or not to proceed or deny the evaluation.