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Last chance to comment on wolf plan

One of the final chances to comment on a plan that will guide how wolves are managed in Utah, if they're removed from the list of threatened and endangered species, will be available at a series of public meetings in May.

The plan is available for review at

Those who attend the meetings can learn more about the plan and can provide their input and suggestions to Regional Advisory Council citizen representatives.

The RAC representatives will take the public input received to the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets June 9 in Salt Lake City to approve the plan.

A strategy to help Utah's most sensitive wildlife and wildlife habitats, and upland game hunting rules for Utah's 2005 - 2006 season, also will be discussed at the meetings.

Meeting dates, times and locations are as follows:

* Southern Region, May 17, 7 p.m., Beaver High School, 195 East Center Street, Beaver.

* Southeastern Region, May 18, 6:30 p.m., John Wesley Powell Museum, 885 East Main Street, Green River.

* Northeastern Region, May 19, 6:30 p.m., Uintah Basin Applied Technology College, 1100 East Lagoon Street, Roosevelt.

* Central Region, May 24, 6:30 p.m., Springville Junior High School, 165 South 700 East, Springville.

* Northern Region, May 25, 6 p.m., Brigham City Community Center, 24 North 300 West, Brigham City.

Utah's 96-page Wolf Management Plan was put together by the state's Wolf Working Group. The group consists of 13 citizens and includes sportsmen, wolf advocates, ranchers and people with other wolf-related interests.

The DWR assembled the group in the summer of 2003 to draft a plan that will guide the management of wolves that may one day make their way to Utah from surrounding states.

At the group's April 12 meeting, a sportsmen's representative left the group and refused to endorse the draft plan that will be taken to the public meetings. He was concerned that the plan doesn't protect Utah's big game animals enough from wolves.

"We're happy with the plan the group put together, but we're disappointed that the group couldn't reach agreement on the final version of the plan," said Kevin Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the DWR. "We were directed by the legislature to put together a wolf management plan for Utah. The plan the group put together will be taken to the public for comment, even though one of the group members didn't give his final approval," said Bunnell.

Bunnell says the DWR is committed to having a wolf management plan in place.

"Wolves are still listed on the federal list of threatened and endangered species, and all of the wolf management in the country is currently handled by the federal government," Bunnell said.

"The plan people will comment on at the May meetings will guide how the DWR manages wolves in Utah, if wolves are ever taken off the federal list. If that happens, it will be a big help to us to already have a plan in place," stated Bunnell.

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