Opinion by Kirk Robinson. Western Wildlife Conservancy in Salt Lake City-

Why must Utah be kept free of wolves? Salt Lake Tribune.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

50 Responses to Why must Utah be kept free of wolves?

  1. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Minnesotans have lived peacefully with 3,000 gray wolves for decades, so why can’t we do it here in Utah?

    Change the state name to anywhere out west. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Nice to see a voice of reason.

  2. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    I have to agree with ProWolf. It is good the hear a voice of reason from Utah, Too often it seems that folks from Utah are pretty far right in their thinking.

  3. avatar Save bears says:

    I think Minnesotans have lived better with wolves, but from what I am reading it is not always peacefully, it seems poaching or plain killing incidents are on the rise back east as well…

  4. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    I was just going to post this excellent article about wolves in Utah and many citizen’s comments to it. Utahns certainly have a different attitude than many in the other three Northern Rocky Mountain states regarding wolves. Refreshing.

  5. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I think it is amazing how people do these polls that show that a majority of the citizens in a state are for restoration but then the politicians are always against it and the anti-wolf crowd is always so much louder.

  6. avatar Jim says:

    ProWolf. I think it is amazing that in general polls say the people want one thing and the elected officials simply ignore what their constituents want. It is really sad.

  7. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    ProWolf, Jim:

    The actions of Utah’s legislature shows how little concern they have for managing wildlife as a trust for ALL of the people. This example effectively illustrates what many of us have been trying to communicate to Mark Gamblin of IDF&G for some time. The governments and F&G agencies in western states show little to no concern with managing wolves for non-consumptive users, who make up the majority of their constituents; rather, they appear to be willing to violate their trustee role with respect to the state’s citizens in order to placate a few of their most vocal stakeholders.

  8. avatar vickif says:

    Utah is no different than any other state. The voice of the people doesn’t matter, it is simple-money talks. And when you boil it all down, you get left with the simple fact that people who are narrow in thought, or backward in thinking, or cowardly….don’t change, don’t stand up for what is right, and don’t care.

  9. avatar jdubya says:

    Very nice article Kirk. He is one of our more sensible voices for protection of predators in the state. I wish there were a lot more like him.

    What I just can’t get my head around is the open hostility to wolves in Utah when the one two locations they will even allow breeding pairs would be the Unitas and Book Cliffs. I suspect the real battle is in the Book Cliffs where it seems SFW are trying to set up a state sponsored private hunting camp for the wealthy.

  10. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    Don Peay’s zealotry regarding wolves is matched only by Ron Gillette’s; and Peay is infinitely more politically savoy.

  11. avatar Roy M. Halverson says:

    I think we need a wolf pack or two at Ohio State University.. Give Jeremy some first hand experience with wolves outside of all those books he has memorized. 🙂

  12. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    Hi Roy,

    I come to this site to converse with thoughtful people (both for and against large carnivores) about carnivore management issues. I don’t think I’ve ever listed my “credentials” with respect to wolves, mostly because I think far too much is made of such credentials, be they personal experience or scientific expertise. People spend all sorts of time vehemently arguing about inconsistent scientific findings, when really it comes down to a question of how to fairly distribute public resources. You certainly don’t have to be a wolf expert to have an opinion on that policy question!

    Regardless, if “first hand experience” with wolves is what you value: I spent two years in Utah collecting data on resident’s attitudes and policy preferences regarding wolves. During that time (and on subsequent trips) I’ve observed wolves in the wild on numerous occasions, and been up close and personal with captive wolves more times than I can count (I’ve also had the opportunity to work on a behavioral study of captive coyotes). Following my time in Utah (a state with 0 wolves and a wolf problem) I moved to Minnesota (a state with 3,000 wolves and no wolf problem).

    Just because I live in Ohio does not mean I have an uninformed opinion regarding wolf conservation and management. 🙂

  13. avatar jimbob says:

    Roy Halvorson, why is it that people of the United States seem to believe that when it comes to “controversial” issues, the only people who should have say are those who live there? I live in a place where 70 years ago there were grizzlies, but not anymore. I would welcome them back, and so would many people. Nobody is asking us our opinion!!!! Does local personal opinion only work to eliminate predators?

  14. avatar timz says:

    Jeremy B, ever hang out at the Int. Wolf Center in Ely?

  15. avatar Roy M. Halverson says:

    Hey Jimbob, where do you live ? I am for the grizz brother, and the Salmon runs the Grizz needs to help keep him present, and the Bull trout as well, which those salmon feed, and all the bugs which the dead salmon create.. Bring it on.

    Jeremy read my mind, I wanted his on the ground expertise around wild game. I got it. Two years or less.

    On his public policy stance he pushes, the jury is still out in my mind.. I’m working it out..

    I have 40 plus years hanging with all kinds of animals, wild and tame. I have broke wild broncs, raised a wolf, badger, and have watched over 100 wolves in the wild in real wild places deep into the back country, I have watched them interact with Moose elk, deer, bears.

    I disagree with many of the observations I read here concerning the impact of wolves onto other wild game, I do not want the wolf eradicated, I want the wolf well managed.

    The real facts will some day finally come out, I say let those chips fall where they may.. If us six toed red necked heathens are dead wrong so be it. We’ll see.

    I have pulled pack strings, put in over 100,000 miles in four wilderness areas in that time frame.. Killed two horses doing it, retired one, and riding a new one now.

    I think the Utah folk against this wolf, in the legislature or other wise might be concerned about the law suits they know will come when the wolves leave the two wilderness areas which some believe can maintain them. More so than they fear those wolves.

  16. avatar Mike says:

    ++Minnesotans have lived peacefully with 3,000 gray wolves for decades, so why can’t we do it here in Utah? ++

    Minnesota is a progressive state. Utah is in the dark ages.

  17. avatar Mike says:

    ++I think we need a wolf pack or two at Ohio State University.. Give Jeremy some first hand experience with wolves outside of all those books he has memorized++

    The midwest never had to reintroduce wolves. 😉

  18. I just posted an article indicating there might be a wolf pack in Colorado in the Book Cliffs. This, of course, is near the Utah border, and the wolves would making and end run around Don Peay and his ilk by avoiding Utah’s soon to be kill-all-the wolves zone in the Northern Utah wolf delisted corridor. 🙂

  19. avatar Roy M. Halverson says:

    Cool, I hope Colorado’s wild wolves do well.

    Now wait a minute Mike, the last wolf was killed in Ohio in 1842, and no wild wolves live in Ohio, on all of that pristine Ohio wilderness. Well whats the deal ? Sounds like Ohio does need to reintroduce wolves to me. Lets get on it. Pets and caged wolves don’t count.

    The Dire Wolf, larger and heavier than the Gray Wolf, lived in Ohio during the Ice Age. Around 750,000 years ago the Gray Wolf came to North America, and coexisted with the Dire Wolf for about 400,000 years. As the climate warmed, the prey of the Dire Wolf became extinct, resulting in the extinction of the Dire Wolf itself.
    http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=1132

    I am really upset about this, I insist we populate Ohio with wolves ASAP.. 🙂

  20. avatar Jon says:

    The way some people talk about the wolves now and their size, you would think that dire wolves weren’t extinct. 🙂

  21. avatar Mike says:

    It’s not about the wolf. People in Utah hate the wolf because they are unhappy and use the wolf a a symbol they can vent on. The wolf has become a living, breathing object of hate. The wolf has become taxes, big government, and U.N. takeovers of Billy Bob’s half acre lamma recreation facility. Utah is a backwards state. It’s repressed and acts out on that repression.

  22. avatar timz says:

    “I am really upset about this, I insist we populate Ohio with wolves ASAP”

    Because of a job I was on I had to live in Ohio for a year. I would wish that on no one, especially a wolf. 😉

  23. avatar Roy M. Halverson says:

    Well you know why the wind blows in Wyoming ? ha ha..

  24. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Utah is a backwards state. It’s repressed and acts out on that repression.

    Mike, let’s face it, you can change the name Utah to Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and probably most other western states. I hate to say it an admit it but it’s the truth sometimes.

  25. avatar Jon says:

    It amazes me how much some people hate and despise the wolves and see them as their enemies. I see them as animals just trying to survive.

  26. avatar izabelam says:

    I live in Utah and it makes me really upset when people start talking here about killing wolves or managing this or that.
    We want to manage wildlife..maybe should start with managing humans, overpopulation, encroaching on wildlife territory and the most important managing cows.
    Wolves are magnificent creatures and I hope that Judge M. rules for their safety.

  27. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    It amazes me how much some people hate and despise the wolves and see them as their enemies. I see them as animals just trying to survive.

    I think the problem is that most people don’t see wolves for what they really are. Wolves. Period. It seems like they are a symbol of something whether it be government intrusion, competition for game, the scourge of livestock, or victims.

  28. avatar JEFF E says:

    Back again Greg.

  29. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Roy M. Halverson
    “Well you know why the wind blows in Wyoming?”
    No I don’t, please enlighten me.

  30. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    “Jeremy read my mind, I wanted his on the ground expertise around wild game. I got it. Two years or less.”

    –Actually, I gave you my “ground” experience with respect to wolves, not wildLIFE (not all critters are considered “game”). FYI: the M.S. took two years, and that was several years ago. Regardless, I’m afraid your 40 years of “experience” surpasses my current age…then again, the older I get the more I find I’m happy to lose the age contest. 😉

    – – – – – –

    “I am really upset about this, I insist we populate Ohio with wolves ASAP”

    All sarcasm aside, much like Utah, the northern part of Ohio was included as part of the Great Lakes DPS in the last delisting attempt. Unlike Utah, nobody called for the immediate removal of any hypothetical wolves that might enter the state.

    – – – – –

    Timz: Not once! The Wildlife Science Center–a captive facility with ~40 wolves–was a heck of a lot closer (Forest Lake).

  31. avatar timz says:

    Jeremy B. I grew up in Forest Lake. It wasn’t there then however. I studied at the wolf center and VCC in Ely.

  32. avatar Roy M. Halverson says:

    I thought for sure I would not be the only Wyomingite here, dam that saying must be forgotten, I’m 63 years young, the wind blows in Wyoming because Utah sucks, Except Moab, which is real nice in winter.

    Jeremy, my folks live in Ashtabula, they have white tail deer coming out of their ears, 12 acres all brushed up. Coyotes to, why won’t them little wolves work their to ?

  33. avatar Don Riley says:

    Roy…..THAT’s FUNNY!!! I’m older than you but still a new comer to WY…… never heard it.won’t forget it.

  34. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    Roy:

    I’m not one to say they won’t [work in Ohio that is]! I think large carnivores do well when they have a sufficient prey base and adequate human tolerance. Black bear–which are far harder to live with–have done extremely well in the eastern U.S. in recent years, and cougar and coyotes have wound up in all sorts of odd places (including downtown Chicago). FYI: I happened to see a coyote on OSU’s campus (with more than 50,000 students) yesterday.

    You’re right about Ohio’s deer population. We went from no season in 1961 to now having so many deer we can’t find enough hunters to kill them.

  35. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    Timz:

    If you ever get back to the Twin Cities, you should check them out: http://www.wildlifesciencecenter.org/

    They have a number of large and medium-sized carnivores as well as numerous raptors.

  36. avatar jdubya says:

    http://www.sltrib.com/ci_14359592?IADID=Search-www.sltrib.com-www.sltrib.com

    this moved from committee to the floor with a unanimous vote…..nobody voted against it? depressing…

  37. avatar jimbob says:

    Roy H. I hope you are just guessing when you say that Utah folk worry about lawsuits. Wildlife should be no different than tornadoes or other natural features, unless they are introduced as non-native pests. Geesh. People want to be protected from everything.
    To answer your question I live in Arizona where grizzlies roamed as little as 70 years ago. Too bad, a minority and an ill-represented form of government made sure to eliminate them.

  38. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    Jeremy B. –
    Interesting comment. How do you characterize “hard to live with” and specifically how do you judge black bears to be harder to live with than wolves?

  39. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    Mark:

    That’s an easy one. In addition to killing livestock, black bears also cause damage to crops (including trampling row crops), destroy the beehives of bee keepers, tear up turf, knock over garbage cans, and have even been known to break into and destroy garages and homes. Once food conditioned, they can also be a problem at campsites and a danger to people.

    The most common problems with wolves (i.e. killing livestock and pets), occur relatively infrequently and are more easily addressed.

  40. Of all the large carnivores in the United States, wolves seem to me to be the least troublesome for humans. As Jeremy B. writes about bears, wolves don’t destroy any property except a minor take of some livestock, they haven’t attacked or killed anyone, there is no proof they reduce elk and deer numbers over any broad area they inhabit. They are no more prone to diseases humans can get than any other carnivore.

    Opposition to them is mostly based on cultural tradition, political opportunism, and generational ignorance.

    I don’t want to say the other large carnivores (and omnivores like bears) do much damage to human interests either.

  41. avatar JimT says:

    JeremyB,

    Your key phrase is “food-conditioned”. Except for the humans leaving garbage out in non-bear proof containers, or composting with inappropriate food stuffs, etc., I doubt you would see bears causing many problems at the human-nature interface. We have an annual issue with bears here in Boulder, and most if not all of the incidents are because the neighborhood simply doesn’t manage itself for bear presence. Then, they call the Wildlife Division which has a one strike rule even if there is no evidence of present danger, and no penalties for the people whose activities caused the problems in the first place.

    As for bear predation on farms, I have yet to read of a single incident here in Boulder where there are numerous sheep, alpaca, cow and llama ranches of various sizes.

    Indeed, from an urban-nature interface, it seems most of the complaints are about deer becoming too numerous and being pests in the areas nearest the open spaces.

  42. avatar Roy M. Halverson says:

    Utahns best get used to wolves, they are moving in and they like the digs. Utah has a very nice prey base built up. The federal government will not be beholden to the states legislative attempts to thwart the ESA. The sooner the wolves populate Utah, the better.

  43. avatar jdubya says:

    Roy,

    On what basis do you state “they are moving in”? I know of no credible evidence that they are doing so.

  44. avatar Roy M. Halverson says:

    Wolves have been spotted in Utah, starting to cross into Utah from Wyoming and Idaho. Of course the sightings will not be credible until and “expert”, says so in some official capacity, because we know the average Joe on the ground is delusional.

  45. There is no doubt that wolves have moved south into Utah in the past.

    Famous Yellowstone wolf 253M made it south across I-80 to near Morgan, Utah where he was captured in a coyote trap and returned to NW Wyoming.

    A wolf was shot at Weston, ID, a mile from the Utah border. A wolf died in the hills near Tremonton, Utah after being caught in a coyote trap.

    Wolves killed some sheep near the Hardware Ranch, east of Cache Valley, Utah.

    I had a number of people report to me multiple wolf tracks over a 2 year period near Wolf Mountain/Monte Cristo Ridge about 5 years ago.

    I also got a number of reports of wolves in or near Franklin Basin, which is just south of the Idaho border east of Richmond, UT.

  46. avatar jdubya says:

    I understand that there have been numerous sightings of wolves in Utah.These guys were “moving through” until the DWR decided to deal with them. That wasn’t my point.

    To suggest they are “moving in” to me suggests a breeding pair has decided to settle down, raise some kids and send them to seminary.

  47. avatar Jeremy B. says:

    JimT:

    Easy, I’m not attacking black bears, just commenting that they cause numerous problems that wolves do not. I agree, the most frequent problem with black bears (trash raiding) can usually be solved by modifying trash storage and disposal (i.e. human behavior).

    – – – –

    jdubya:

    A former WS control agent told me that he had heard wolves howl in northern Utah on several occasions when trying to call in coyotes. It would not surprise me to learn that a few wolves have moved into Utah and set up shop, though a few wolves hardly constitutes a viable population.

  48. avatar bob jackson says:

    Royboy,

    Rode and packed over a 100,000 miles???? The most I ever did was 3000 per month a few months at a time…..and I had ideal situations of small strings, no handicaps of others needs and cabins with grain to feed the horses.

    But then there are always a lot of other limiting factors to include over time. Weather, horses with problems etc.

    Miles traveled was always a big discussion in the outfitter camps. Those doing the big miles, the packers in and out of the Bridger-Teton Wilderness , couldn’t sustain it year after year. Guides had to stop to hunt and glass, camp bosses had to take care of any little distraction presenting itself.

    Thus, around the cook tent we’d all discuss it, especially when the young bucks had all these claims of riding off the flat part of the earth. In the end it was at best half of what someone thought they rode.

    I had to keep track of miles ridden for corral operations use for many years…and also logged it all in log books for those 30 plus years. 60-70,000 is about what it came to….and no one other ranger or packer came close. In the outfitter camps they said I had the “unfair” advantage with all the Park infrastructure to draw on. Plus a job that allowed for lots of riding looking for poachers…without others tagging along.

    Maybe you might want to do the math again John Wayne. And while you’re at it start thinking of why you hate wolves. Just because all you poaching drug store cowboys with small feet (I could always tell the poacher-guide combination because those littlest of people, those guides that poached, always had the smallest packers….packers that had to be custom made for such small feet at Whites….and they always had a heel that showed where they “wore” down the outside edge with a grinder to make them walk bow legged) sit around camp with displaced anger.

    Ya, and I’m sure you tamed that badger while it was sitting on the saddle burning leather.

  49. avatar izabelam says:

    Bob Jackson…you made me smile…yeah..city slickers wanna be cowboys..

  50. avatar Jacey says:

    They just recently passed legislation in Utah to make sure that no wolves come into Utah, if they do they will be trapped and relocated, or shot on site, there is no restriction on shooting them if they are in Utah, so most likely they will be shot. It’s a horrible thing, and I am sad that they would do this. I live in Utah and I own wolfdogs, I just really hope they don’t make Wolfdog Legislation next…

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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