Wolf tracks in the future?
Public comment on the wolf draft plan at Southeastern RAC
|A gray wolf sits in the tall prairie grass.|
Should the wildlife and livestock populations of Emery County be given another obstacle to hurdle? A large, hairy obstacle with sharp teeth, namely the wolf. If the Utah wolf working group has their way the plan they have cooked up will be the criteria for the way wolves are managed in the future of Utah.
The Utah legislature asked the Division of Wildlife Resources to come up with a plan to manage wolves in Utah. The DWR appointed a 13 member group comprised of sportsmen, wolf advocates, ranchers and people with other wolf-related interests. The draft plan will now come before the Regional Advisory Council of the DWR. The Southeastern RAC will be held at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River at 6:30 p.m. on May 18. Comments will be taken at the RAC meetings on the draft plan. A person may speak in support of the proposed draft or against it or for changes to the draft. The discussion will not center around whether or not there should be wolves in Utah. Input gathered will be taken to the Utah Wildlife Board for their June 9 meeting.
On March 18, 2004, a meeting was held in Price and meetings were also held throughout the state to garner information to be given to the wolf working group to help them formulate a plan. Overwhelmingly at the Price meeting, Carbon and Emery citizens spoke against the wolf being allowed to become established in Utah. The adverse conditions their establishment will have on livestock and wildlife was cited as reason for keeping wolves out of Utah. Throughout the state with exception of the Moab meeting, wolves did not meet with favorable response. In Moab, animal protectionists felt that the wolf as a natural predator in controlling the game population in a complete ecosystem was acceptable. With only one meeting in 10 feeling favorable towards wolves...where did this wolf management plan come from?
At the May 10, Emery County Public Lands Council meeing the issue was discussed. Commissioner Drew Sitterud said the county has drafted a letter to be read at the RAC meeting on Wednesday. Opposition to wolves was listed as the top prioritized issue coming out of the wolf meetings attended by the public. Emery County is worried about the elk and deer populations and do not feel that wolves as part of an ecosystem are needed where hunting and grazing by domestic animals exists. Emery County believes the management goals and management objectives of the wolf draft plan cannot be met. "Wolves cannot exist in Emery County without continuous conflicts," said Emery County officials. The county also worries that population expectations have been far exceeded in Idaho and Wyoming and it's having a negative affect on the wildlife.
|This wolf finds cover from the heavy snow.|
The county believes wolf population control isn't adequately addressed in the draft plan. There are no upper limits established for wolf populations.
Wolves are still controlled by the federal government and expenses involved with dealing with wolves will fall on the state of Utah. In Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, approximately $1 million per year is being spent to study the impacts and mitigate the effects of wolves.
Jim Gilson spoke to the lands council about nine amendments the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, The Utah Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and the Utah CMWU Association, recommend the Utah Wildlife Board adopt a no wolf conservation plan for Utah when wolves are delisted and request the United States Fish and Wildlife completely delist wolves and return management of wolves to the states.
Utah is not part of the wolf recovery effort and Utah is not required to have wolves. The federal government is not likely to provide Utah with any funding for wolf conservation and wolf impacts. The SFW believes the financial and economic interests of Utah's hunting and ranching industries be protected.
They have nine amendments they would propose be added to the wolf draft plan. 1. Private landowners shall have the right to remove wolves at any time they desire on private lands. 2. Ranching interests shall be able to remove wolves on public lands that are harassing or killing livestock. 3. There shall be no loss in big game hunting opportunity, antlered or antlerless or decreased age class in male animals for Utah sportsmen because of the effects of wolves on hoofed populations. 4. Wolf populations shall not be allowed to slow or modify hoofed populations from achieving state wildlife management plans. 5. No license money, PR funds, or current general fund allocations to the DWR shall be used to manage wolves, or to ensure that wolf populations are not having an impact on ungulates or livestock. 6. Any wolf conservation efforts shall require adequate new general funds built into the base DWR budget by the Utah legislature to fully understand and mitigate any impacts by wolves and cover the full costs of any DWR wolf conservation and monitoring effort. 7. Any loss of revenue due to wolves for guiding, outfitting, taxidermy, DWR license revenue, conservation permit revenue, or CWMU revenue shall be compensated at fullmarket value by the state general fund, or wolf advocates. 8. The state of Utah, the legislature or wolf advocates shall be liable for repayment to private conservation groups of any ungulate and habitat restoration efforts such as big horn sheep, elk, mule deer, or moose, including habitat and transplant costs associated with the restoration effort, if wolves have a negative impact or cause the restoration effort to fail. 9. Any hounds, horses, or pets killed by wolves shall result in full compensation at fair market value, to the owners of such animals.
|This black wolf stands in the snow.|
The SFW also thinks Utah can be established as a control state with no wolves and compare the impacts on hoofed animals in other western states.
Commissioner Ira Hatch said a no wolf policy could be used as a management tool; no wolves, no problems.
The lands council determined that Eric Luke, council member, would represent the council at the RAC meeting and read a statement in opposition to the wolf draft plan.
The 96 page wolf draft plan can be viewed and downloaded from the DWR website. The plan contains mostly research with 10-12 pages of actual plan. The general public is encouraged to attend and voice their opinions at the RAC meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Green River at the museum.