Crop damage claims process for commercial producers

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) may compensate an eligible farmer for damage to their commercial crops from deer or elk. An "eligible farmer" is defined as a producer whose gross sales or harvested value of agricultural products grown, raised, or produced was at least $10,000. A commercial crop is defined as a commercially raised horticultural and/or agricultural product and includes the growing or harvested product; please see detailed definition in RCW 82.04.213.

A producer may only file one claim per year. Claims for less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) will not be accepted. The maximum payment for a claim is $10,000, unless the outcome of an appeal filed by the producer determines higher payment.3 Cash compensation will only be provided to producers by WDFW when specifically appropriated by the legislature or other funding entity.

Cash compensation requires public hunting access to the producer’s property at an appropriate time, manner, and level to help prevent property damage unless, as determined by WDFW, the property is inconsistent with hunting or hunting would not address the damage problem.

Filing a claim

The producer must notify WDFW within 72 hours of discovery of crop damage and at least 72 hours prior to harvest of the claimed crop.

When a damage complaint is received a WDFW Wildlife Conflict Specialist (WCS) will meet with the landowner to verify damage and recommend damage mitigation/prevention measures. Producers may be ineligible for a compensation claim, and WDFW shall take no further action, unless agreed upon prevention measures have been employed. The producer must provide the WCS with access to the site to investigate the damage claim.

To submit a claim, the producer must cooperate with the WCS prior to claim initiation and have one of the following:

  • An active Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreement (DPCA), OR
  • A WDFW-approved checklist, OR
  • Compliance with a WDFW Director’s Waiver. A producer may request a Director’s Waiver for consideration of abatement measures not identified in the DPCA or WDFW-approved checklist.

Once the need to submit a claim is determined, the WCS will provide a “Filing a Damage Claim” letter to the producer, directing them to the WDFW Claims Specialist in Olympia to start the claims process. The Claims Specialist will provide the producer with a claims package, including a list of approved adjusters and all subsequent paperwork. The producer may select an Adjustor from the approved list which WDFW will cost share, or utilize one of their own choice (must be state/federal certified and claimant pays full amount). The producer must make arrangements with the Adjustor to complete the damage assessment.

The producer must pursue compensation from all other applicable sources, such as private insurance and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Information about FSA is provided with the claims package.

A complete, written claim must be submitted by the producer to WDFW within 60 days of final harvest. The assessor will complete their assessment in this timeframe and send the final assessment report to the Wildlife Conflict Program in Olympia for processing.5

A complete claim packet includes:

  1. Completed claim form including a notarized declaration page,
  2. Tax documents and proof of eligibility,
  3. Proof of legal ownership or contractual lease of crop,
  4. Records documenting the value of the crop based on average yield for the claimed year,
  5. A copy of any insurance policy covering the loss claimed,
  6. Copies of applications for other sources of loss compensation and any payment or denial documentation, and
  7. Adjuster’s report (may be submitted directly from Adjuster).

Claim steps

  • Producer notifies WDFW within 72 hours of discovery and 72 hours prior to harvest
  • WDFW investigates and works with Producer
  • Producer requests claim’s packet
  • Producer selects a certified, independent adjuster, as needed
  • Producer seeks other sources of compensation (e.g., insurance, FSA)
  • Producer submits complete claim’s packet within 60 days of final harvest (see above)
  • WDFW reviews for final determination

Claims mailing address

Send claims to:

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attn: Wildlife Conflict Program, Claims
P.O. Box 43200,
Olympia, WA 98504-3200

Speak to a specialist

If you would like to speak to someone about mitigation of deer and elk damage to commercial crops and/or filing a crop damage claim, please contact WDFW by sending an email or contacting the nearest WDFW Regional Office and asking to be connected with your local wildlife conflict specialist.