Residents Discuss Wolf Issues at DWR Meeting
The consensus at the wolf meeting conducted March 18 in Price by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources appeared to be that wolves are not welcome in the state.
At least, the wild animals are not welcome in the state as far the Carbon and Emery County citizens who participated in the meeting are concerned.
According to a DWR presentation on the status of wolves, the animals are found widely across Canada and Alaska.
There are three wolf recovery areas in the lower 48 states, the Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan along with Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, which currently contain 760 wolves.
The third recovery area is Arizona and New Mexico, where 69 Mexican wolves have been reintroduced. Arizona and New Mexico have not seen the success that the other two recovery areas have had with the Rocky Mountain wolves.
A wolf pack can cover 250 miles as the animals' territory and will travel up to 500 miles to find a new area.
Sightings of wolves in northern Utah has been recorded and any trapped animals have been moved back to Yellowstone Park.
Sightings of wolves continue as the animals attempt to establish packs at locations in the state.
The criteria for the removal of federal protections were exceeded in 2003 when the biological quota of 30 pairs that raised two pups was met.
Idaho and Montana have wolf management plans in place and Wyoming is still working on a state plan.
Utah is divided by Interstate 70 with the Rocky Mountain wolf area north of I-70 and the Mexican wolf territory below the highway.
The Rocky Mountain wolf is listed as threatened and the Mexican wolf is still an endangered species.
The situation puts Utah in a unique position with wolves being under a different level of protection.
The state will be the authority on the northern part of Utah and the federal regulations will govern the wolves south of I-70.
In 2003, the Utah Legislature determined that, when the major federal protections are removed, the division of wildlife resources will become the management agency.
The matter of livestock depredation was also included and private land owner issues.
The Ute Tribe is also very interested in the wolf and are against any recovery zones in Utah.
The tribe wishes to continue to be consulted as the wolf management moves along, according to the DWR officials.
The recommendations made at the March 18 meeting will go back to the wolf working group in a report.
The wolf management plan is due out in 2005 with a rough draft scheduled to be ready by May 2005 to bring before the regional advisory council.
The Utah people are getting in on the ground floor by making their concerns known during the development phase of the plan.
Attendees at the informational meeting in Price gathered in groups to discuss issues and develop suggestions for dealing with the matters.
Attendees were instructed to write the information down on large sheets of paper which were displayed on the wall.
Groups worked together to come up with issues concerning the members.
Some of the concerns included:
The loss of current elk and deer herd numbers.
Utah already has enough predators.
Who will compensate livestock owners for losses.
Determine whether there are sites in Utah with adequate space for wolves.
The federal government's alleged lack of interest in local issues.
Money used to compensate livestock owners for losses related to wolves could be better spent on wildlife programs.
Changing the boundary from I-70 to the Utah-Arizona border.
Potential problems associated with allowing packs to become established.
Potential revenue loss from decreased elk and deer herds.
Recommendations from attendees at the Price meeting included doing everything possible to keep wolves out of Utah and creating a task force to make sure the animals do not establish in the state.
Attendees at the Price gathering also recommended developing a management plan quickly, assigning someone to monitor activity in the state, monitoring wolves by total numbers and not breeding pairs and de-listing the animals.
Ten wolf planning meetings are being conducted statewide. Brent Stettler from the DWR said a Wasatch Front meeting was attended by 200 people.
The Wasatch Front residents were overwhelmingly against having wolves in Utah.
Stettler indicated that the meeting in Moab was basically pro-wolf.
People participating at the informational session in Moab cited a complete ecosystem with the animals as predators to control the game population as viable issues.