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One of the first bills passing through the Utah State Senate was Senator Allen Christensen’s Wolf Management legislation. The bill as passed by the Senate (all Republicans supported it; all Democrats opposed it) notes it is the policy of the state to legally advocate and facilitate the de-listing of wolves in Utah under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to return wolf management authority to the state; provides for the Division of Wildlife Resources to request federal removal of all wolves found within areas of the state where the wolf is listed under the Endangered Species Act; and requires the division to manage the wolf to avoid the establishment of a viable pack within the areas of the state where the wolf is not listed as endangered or threatened.

When wolves were transplanted from Canada into Yellowstone National Park in the mid ’90s a tiny triangle of Utah (north of I-80, and east of I-84 on the ID and WY border) was part of the distinct population segment associated with the Yellowstone experimental population. When the Fish and Wildlife Service (FSW) de-listed a portion of this population from the Endangered Species Act early in 2008 (MT and ID; the FSW determined the WY wolf plan was inadequate) wolves in this tiny triangle would not be protected under the ESA. The rest of Utah, including the High Uintas, of course, still comes under the purview of the ESA.

As it now stands, the de-listing decision is in court with a response expected soon. Meanwhile hunters killed just over 70 wolves in Montana in 2009 and just about 150 wolves in Idaho where the season extends into the spring of 2010 with a quota of 220 dead wolves.

By the time you read this, undoubtedly it will have slid like proverbial slime right through the ol’ legislature and with abundant smiles. Those of us who go out in the woods know it is likely wolves are here already-- maybe moving back and forth, but here. Wolves are too damn smart to read legislation or wolf management plans. The real question is whether hunters, off-roaders and wildlife managers will let them survive. It is that simple. If they are not fully protected they will be killed for damnable rugs or wall decorations. Even if protected, the same will happen. This is about hubris and maybe an inordinate fear of the woods! It will likely be the Governor who decides whether this legislation moves forward. And if it does, a host of questions arise-- a wolf may be both a varmint and fully protected in Utah!

But then why should we be surprised at this legislature’s attempt to manage wolves? The House Natural Resources Committee reported out (February 4), with only one dissenting vote, a resolution arguing global climate change is a conspiracy with the intent of reducing global food supply and world population!

Dick Carter

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