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HUPC Draft Wolf Plan Action Alert

Good HUPC Members and Friends,

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) has finally released its Draft WOLF CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT PLAN....and, not surprisingly, is allowing only a few days for public comment! You can find the 90 page plan at: http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/wolf/.

Comments are due by April 1 at: wolfcomments@utah.gov

The High Uintas Preservation Council has been critical of the Utah Wolf Working Group (HUPC LYNX, 4/04). Nonetheless, a wolf management plan finally exists and will go into effect only after the wolf has been formally de-listed from the Endangered Species Act. Fortunately, only a couple of months ago a federal court prevented the Fish and Wildlife Service from even down-listing the wolf from endangered to threatened (HUPC LYNX 2/05).

The draft plan consists of thorough chapters dealing with the ecology and natural history and historic and current status of wolves in Utah, along with a discussion of the numerous Utah stakeholders, their beliefs and opinions, and a management plan.

While some of the draft plan is commendable, the actual management strategies disconnect from the data provided on ecology and behavior.

The plan’s primary goal is to allow wolves to naturally disperse into Utah and establish themselves. Once established (“at least 2 breeding pairs of wild wolves successfully raising at least 2 young each… for 2 consecutive years”), the goal would be to assure there are no impacts to livestock or big game populations. The draft plan notes, “Wolves will be controlled or populations reduced when they cause unacceptable impacts to big game. At the UDWR Director’s discretion, an emergency management action may be implemented for wolves preying on populations of wildlife that are being re-established, and/or are at low levels. Such an action might include non-lethal control, such as relocation, or lethal control actions.”

+To say the least this is far too open ended and assures constant harassing of future wolf populations.
The primary strategies for livestock protection are to first utilize non-lethal techniques to try to keep wolves out of livestock and secondarily use lethal control. There are a series of steps before killing can occur, including whether a wolf is simply in the vicinity, actually harassing, and finally actually attacking and biting. The plan also calls for a full market value compensation fund to be established to assist livestock producers who lose livestock to wolves. The draft plan notes that wolves will likely have very limited impacts upon livestock and big game.
+The real failure of this draft plan is that it should have proposed that once wolves establish a pack, livestock grazing should be ended and phased out, particularly on Forest Service or BLM allotments. The wolf compensation fund should be utilized to purchase public land grazing permits, phased out over 10 years and then dedicated to wildlife.
The plan also calls for all wolves to be radio collared.
+Rather than wild wolves, Utah wolves will be tracked and followed—basically held in electronic cages so they can always be found.

After this comment period, the plan will be submitted to the Regional (Wildlife) Advisory Councils. It then proceeds to the Utah Wildlife Board for approval.

Your wild voice is important:
1-Support the natural recovery of gray wolf populations, not a plan hiding behind lethal control and a few scattered wolves. Oppose lethal control of wolves for livestock depredation on public lands. While wolves and domestic livestock can be compatible, the only long-term solution is to phase out livestock permits on these core wolf areas of public land. The wolf compensation fund should be utilized to purchase public land grazing permits, phased out over 10 years and then dedicated to wildlife.
2-If wolves actually depress big game populations in local areas simply end sport hunting to ease the pressure and allow wolves and their prey to seek stabilizing populations.
3-Assure that large, unroaded habitats are protected and connected so that wolves may properly disperse to assure viable populations. This means protection of the Bear River Range anchored by the Mt. Naomi Wilderness, the Green River Corridor, and the Book Cliffs—all attached firmly to the nearly 800,000 acres of the High Uintas Wilderness and surrounding roadless lands.
4-Support both the wolf compensation fund for livestock producers at full market value and the plan’s aggressive educational strategies dealing with wolf ecology and behavior.
Remember, comments are due by April 1 and should be sent to: wolfcomments@utah.gov
A sample letter might look like this:
____________________________________________
Dear UDWR and Wolf Working Group,
Please accept these comments on the draft Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. I fully support the natural recovery of gray wolf populations in Utah.
While some of the plan is to be commended for the discussion on ecology and wolf behavior, the actual management strategies seem disconnected from this data. The discussion on ecology and natural history show there is little potential for impact upon big game, other wildlife species and livestock, yet the management plan focuses only on those concerns.
I oppose lethal control of wolves for livestock grazing on public lands. While wolves and domestic livestock can be compatible, the only long-term solution is to phase out grazing permits on these core wolf areas of public land and to assure the wolf compensation fund should also be utilized to purchase public land grazing permits
If wolves actually depress big game populations in local areas, wildlife managers should simply end sport hunting to ease the pressure and allow wolves and their prey to stablize populations.
I support both the wolf compensation fund for livestock producers at full market value and the plan’s aggressive educational strategies dealing with wolf ecology and behavior.
Finally, the plan should support and help assure that large, unroaded habitats are protected and connected so that wolves may properly disperse to assure viable populations. This means protection of the Bear River Range anchored by the Mt. Naomi Wilderness, the Green River Corridor, and the Book Cliffs—all attached firmly to the nearly 800,000 acres of the High Uintas Wilderness and surrounding roadless lands.

Sincerely,
___________________________________________
Thank you!
High Uintas Preservation Council
PO Box 72
Hyrum, UT 84319
hupc.org
“Imagine a mountain defined by the creation of life, not the production of resources.”
High Uintas Preservation Council


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