(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)
If one Utah legislator gets his way, wild wolves will be in great danger if found anywhere in Utah.
State Sen. Allen Christensen has proposed a bill that would require state wildlife officials to capture or kill all wild wolves that wander into Utah – even those in areas where they’re protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.
Christensen, a Republican from North Ogden, said he worries that wolves from neighboring states could eventually decimate Utah’s elk and deer populations and hurt the livestock industry.
First, the deer population is declining due to changing climate and food resources, according to an October 2009 Deseret News article. Second there are measures in place to compensate livestock owners for losses should any occur. Rep. Christensen has no concrete evidence to back this proposal. The proposal is based on "possible" losses.
There are currently no known wolf packs in Utah although a few loners occasionally wander into the state. A radio-collared wolf was captured in a coyote trap in north-central Utah in 2002. That prompted state officials to start a lengthy process to develop a management plan for others that might wander in.
The article in the Billings Gazette continues to point out that a survey of Utah residents found that plan favorable.
Rep. Christensen will fight tooth and nail, using private funders, to get his proposal passed.
Christensen said he’s willing to take his proposal as far as possible, including using it to assert state’s rights and fight it out in court."It’ll take a while to work its way through all the obstacles," Christensen said.
He said he hopes private funding – including from sportsmen and livestock groups – could be used to fight any challenge to the law.
Utah already has a management plan that allows wolves into the state, compensates livestock owners for losses and allows for them to be killed or relocated if they drive down game populations.
Christensen’s bill would take state policy further, though, with the hopes of eliminating any chance wolves could get a foothold anywhere in Utah.
Wolves were wiped out of Utah a century ago for good reason, he said.
"Their lifestyle isn’t compatible with ours. People say that’s a haughty attitude. I’m sorry, we’re here to stay," Christensen said.
This self-righteous attitude has led to a proposal for which there is no basis and therefore will be a waste of taxpayers resources to pursue in the upcoming legislation.