Alert on Utah wolves

What you can do if you oppose Utah state senator Allen Christensen’s wolf killing bill-

Note I made a serious error in the original headline. The sponsor is Allen Christensen, not Kirk Robinson. Dr. Kirk Robinson is Director of Western Wildlife Conservancy, an organization that advocates for the full range of wildlife not just a couple of big game animals. My apologies. Ralph Maughan

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Wolves urgently need your help.  Please send the following alert to as many people as you can.  Use your organization’s email list if you can!  Do it right away, then act on it yourself!

The organization Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife has a bill before the Utah legislature that would require the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to prevent wolf packs from becoming established in the Utah portion of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf recovery area.  This part of the recovery area is where dispersing wolves from the Yellowstone country have been entering Utah, some of them traveling on to Colorado.  If this bill passes, any wolves entering Utah in this area will be subject to capture and return or death.

This egregious bill, identified as S.B. 36 first substitute, would supplant the Utah Wolf Management Plan – a plan which would at least tolerate up to two breeding pairs producing at least two surviving offspring for two consecutive years.  I know, this plan is really lame, but it is better than what the bill would require.  Furthermore, it was created through a public process that began with and ended with the Utah legislature – a process that involved 13 representatives of a diverse group of stakeholders, including ranchers and sportsmen, working for a year and a half.  Even then, the ranching and hunting interests on the working group violated the mutually agreed-upon protocols in order to ensure that the resulting plan is really weak.  Not satisfied with that, now they want to lord over the rest of us to ensure that there are never any wild wolves in Utah.  At bottom this is a moral issue: We must stand up for wolves and wild nature and for ourselves.  Here’s what you can do, but please do it quickly as this bill is on a fast track – do it NOW if you can:

If you are a Utah resident, go to the following web-site and click on ‘Senate’ and ‘House’ to find your senator and your representative, then contact each and let him or her know in no ambiguous terms that you want this bill to fail.  This will be particularly important for those of you who live in the Republican-dominated rural parts of the state:

If you live outside Utah and you want to exert influence on this, you might contact the Utah Office of Tourism and express your displeasure over this bill and tell them that, if it passes, it will make you less interested in vacationing and recreating in Utah:

If you would like to be added to the Utah Wolf Forum list serve to receive periodic updates on this and other wolf-related issues, contact and state your request.  It is our policy that you also briefly state your reason.


Kirk Robinson, PhD, Director of Western Wildlife Conservancy
Allison Jones, M.S., Conservation biologist with Wild Utah Project







  1. kt Avatar

    Isn’t Kirk Robinson the pro-wolf biologist?

  2. Salle Avatar

    Ralph, Kirk isn’t the bad guy…

    Kirk Robinson, PhD, Director of Western Wildlife Conservancy

    Thanks for catching this Salle, I finally fixed it. My apologies to Kirk.
    Ralph Maughan

  3. jon Avatar

    It is truly disgusting how human beings (not all) treat wolves. This feels like the 1930’s all over again. They keep telling us the wolves are here to stay, but with wildlife services wiping out packs all the time it seems and stories like this, you really wonder if they just tell us that to shut us up.

  4. jon Avatar

    Sportsmen for fish and wildlife, these are the idiots who host and participate in those predator derbies. Derbies where so called hunters try to kill as many animals as possible to win prizes.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    In my opinion, the trouble with the group Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife is that they aren’t much interested in wildlife, only a couple big game species.

    Do they ever do anything for fish?

  6. Virginia Avatar

    We just spent several days in Zion for Christmas. I wrote to the Division of Tourism and guaranteed we won’t return as long as they continue their war on wolves.

  7. jdubya Avatar

    No, SFW do nothing for fish. They won’t even support HB80, the Utah 2010 House bill for stream access such as you have in Idaho and Montana. Instead SFW are “neutral” even though it would allow citizens to fish, float and even waterfowl hunt on streams/rivers with public water that cross private land.

    There is new movie at Sundance this year where this group of kids is stuck on a chair lift over night. Things get cold, they start to freeze and want to get down, but what keeps them from doing so? A pack of hungry, skier eating wolves circling below their chair. Ahh….Hollywood!

  8. jdubya Avatar

    Oh wait, I forgot the best part. The chair lift they were filmed on was at Alta in Little Cottonwood canyon in Utah where, of course, we don’t even have any wolves. There are coyotes though…..

  9. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I am suspicious of any groups like Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife. They usually just want more critters to shoot. I have the same opinion about hunting magazines. You read Outdoor Life and it is so disgustingly anti-wolf and anti-grizzly. I also want to avoid travel in Utah for this reason, just as I don’t want to travel to Idaho.

  10. jon Avatar

    Prowolf, I gotta tell ya, organizations like sportsmen for fish and wildlife and safari club internal give hunters a bad name. These organizations love to claim they are conservationists, but if you dig deeper, you will find out they are far from it. Based on some of the things I read about organizations like the ones I mentioned, they love killing. I believe sci tried to have polar bears removed from the endangered species list just so they could shoot them. I’m sure there are decent hunters out there, but these hunting organzations, some of them atleast like the ones I mentioned are a joke and they give real and true hunters a bad name. I also find it disgusting how some can call killing animals a sport. Sport and killing should never go together. Killing an animal for food is one thing and I see no problem with this, but killing for sport is not right at all. With these predator derby thing, someone mentioned that it isn’t that big of a deal because coyotes get killed all year round. The thing that disgusts me is that these people are killing animals for prizes. You really have to wonder what kinda person would kill animals for prizes and money. The people who participate in the predator derbies, I don’t think they are right in the head. I never understood the posing and smiling with the dead animals.

  11. jon Avatar

    safari club international is what I meant to say.

  12. Dave Avatar

    Maybe they dont want wolves in Utah? Seeing the massive problems it has caused MT,ID,WY they are stopping the problems before they start. Utah seems intent on keeping to the 2 breeding pairs for the state, if this is what was agreed to, well then 2 breeding pairs should be brought to the state and set free ( not sure of the science behind this ). saying give them what they agreed to. But reading post on this forum calling utah people idiots, ignorant, morons, ect. I have lived in utah, and can say even though i might not agree with the prevalant relion of the state, the majority of utahns are very intelligent. Thinking otherwise is a death sentence for wolves in utah. But hey i live in MS the state ignorance was born in, just kiddin!

  13. Dave Avatar

    Just a disclamier, my post will never survive an english professors trained eye.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    SFW would repeal the 2 breeding pairs Utah already agreed to. The bill is for no wolves at all.

    I grew up mostly in Utah. Utahans are no dummies, but they are poorly represented in my opinion. Most Americans are poorly represented by their respective state legislatures and by Congress for that matter.

  15. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – as a self described “wolf neutral” outdoorsman I can certainly understand where the UT legislature is coming from. Why would a state want to get involved in this circus which MT,ID and WY are participating in? I do not pretend to know what the people of UT want in regards to wolves but, I bet THEY would like to have the say in that decision and not have the Federal Government, a Federal Judge and or pro wolf groups lawyers dictate to them. In Montana we have seen the various “strategies” employed by pro wolf lawyers to move the bar and downplay the impact of wolves at the wildlife/human interface. Now I am sure the legal staff will counsel me on how UT can and can’t do this or that however, there is a reason UT is choosing this path and I bet it is a “strategy” from a lawyer – just not one with the same opinion as the ones on our legal staff.

  16. JB Avatar


    Like Idaho, in Utah the legislature has a contest to see who can bow the deepest to the livestock industry. Allen Christensen is simply this year’s winner. 😉

  17. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    I agree with you, and don’t get me started on SCI. I have done research on them for many years and they are dangerous! I did my part to call everyone on the Utah Board of tourism to offer my objections. I’m waiting for all the pro- Sportsmen people to defend them here. Why are they so afraid of wolves?

  18. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    They could start by changing their name to “Sportsmen for Sportsmen”

  19. Davej Avatar

    Admittedly cynical, shouldn’t we be supporting this bill? Wouldn’t passage of this bill prove beyond all doubt that the States’ so-called “regulatory mechanisms” are inadequate to protect wolves after delisting?

  20. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    William – not to get you started, I am curios though, how is SCI “dangerous”?

  21. jon Avatar

    Ya William, sci are a bunch of pathetic individuals. I can’t believe they have the nerve to lie and act like the people who work and belong to that organization are conservationists when they are clearly not. I bet the same type of people who belong to sci, do these kinda things too. That is just my guess do.

  22. jon Avatar

    Ralph, what is your opinion on sci (safari club international) ?

  23. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    SCI is an extremist hunting organization. Their goal is to have access to animals for trophy hunting opportunities. They put a price tag on every animal killed- and they use a killing is conservation model- where they pay huge amounts to kill Rhinos, elephants and other wildlife- polar bears prior to the change in listing status, all in the name of conservation. On their website under “where we stand” they state they are against hunting of animals behind fenced in enclosures, but that ethic is conveniently ignored by their members. In fact they have openly opposed legislation to ban canned hunting, and recently they have come under fire for their decision to support captive breeding programs of Endangered Species at hunting preserves. Several of their members including chapter presidents have been cited for killing lions in captive pens, and killing wild animals from helicopters. Go on the internet and put in Ken Behring kills rare sheep and read about his superior being mentality, killing an Argali sheep when there were 100 animals left from that species. All in all they know how much every animal costs, but they know the value of none. They have deep pockets and their “Promoting Wildlife Conservation Worldwide “credo sounds great but couldn’t be farther from the truth.

  24. IzabelaM Avatar

    I live in Utah and not all of Utahns are against wolves.
    But..most of them are. Just like they hate coyotes they hate wolves.
    I have talked to guys at my work who hunt and I know they itch for the good shooting of wolves and coyotes. utah they even kill bears just for bing a bear.
    Utahns move to the areas occupied by wildlife and complain when wildlife eat their daisies….
    There is no difference between Utahns and Idahoans.

  25. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    William – thanks for the information. It is my understanding that they have made substanstial monetary donations to state game and fish departments for research. Do you know/have any info. of these efforts?

  26. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Talks with Bears

    As I said SCI has deep pockets, and their website highlights many of their programs, some of which are good for wildlife. I am against captive hunting, and their stance on captive breeding of rare animals is the main reason I called them “dangerous”. The book “Dominion” by Matthew Scully (who I just found out is Sara Palin’s speechwriter) has a very depressing chapter on SCI.
    On the subject of Utah wolves, I am puzzled why these “sportsmen” are so anti-predator. Is it because they feel they are the only predator that should be allowed to kill? I don’t get it.

  27. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    William – As a hunter I do not consider the “captive” or “fenced” hunting. William – obviously, I cannot speak for all “sportsmen” regarding the UT wolf issue however, I will say that looking at the process involved with wolf reintroduction it is not something that I see as desirable – too much cost and constant/continued legal wrangling of which you know more than I. Next, this is somewhat new to the equation here in MT – now that it can be argued that the wolves are having a significant impact (in certain areas) on the elk and deer – and hunters are seeing it and living it some attitudes are changing. An example, a hunter here in MT has his/her traditional elk/deer hunting area negatively impacted by wolves, the standard answer from the pro wolf person is…….find somewhere else to hunt. The new response from the impacted hunter is – how about we get rid of the wolves and if you want to see one just go to Canada. I am wolf neutral but, people here take hunting seriously and many really do feed their families by hunting so they see the “mess” surrounding wolves as a never ending issue. Also, so many people never see a wolf or care to see one and they feel everything was rolling along just fine before reintroduction and the wolves are just causing problems and costing taxpayer money. Just a few thoughts. Thanks for the info on SCI.

  28. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Jon, I agree, I think SCI is the a terrible organization. The way they want endangered animals off of the list just so they can shoot them in disgusting. I also think predator killing derbies are warped. Hunting is good and has its place but it is not something that should be done for the sake of killing.

  29. Sonia Adams Avatar
    Sonia Adams

    For many years I have been interested in wolves. It started in 1978 when the veterinarian, Dr. Jim Foster, of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle gave a presentation at a docent class on wolves. People need to know that they don’t attack people and they will not bother with domestic
    herbivores that are guarded by dogs. It is just easier to kill something than to save them. They keep wild herds strong by culling. It is such a horrible thing to kill these animals. I am supporting an organization that is trying to stop it and I am glad something is being done to prevent killings of Utah’s wolves. Thank you.

  30. Layton Avatar

    I don’t belong to SCI – for one thing I don’t have the kind of money that most of the members seem to have and for another, I’m not much of a “joiner”.

    That said I would point out that –even if SCI isn’t the “best” org. in the world, they do have some pretty good things working. Even Mr. Huard admits that “SCI has deep pockets, and their website highlights many of their programs, some of which are good for wildlife”.

    Another thing concerning the organization is the thing that someone put up above on this thread about SCI sponsoring predator derbies. Do they?? I’ve never seen one. Other “orgs.” do that but I haven’t seen anything about SCI doing it.

    Concerning their opposition to wolves (along with, it seems, a lot of people from Utah). As TWB says above “why would anyone in their right mind want wolves in the state?” Sure, I paraphrased it, but I think that’s what he was getting to.

    When Idaho, Montana and Wyoming “inherited” the wolves in ’94 and ’95, there was verbiage that talked about “ten breeding pairs in each state for 4 years”. Now we have multiple hundreds of packs and pairs and the wolf supporters are bitching like mad because they want more.

    Two breeding pairs would simply be the “camel’s nose under the tent”.


    “I live in Utah and not all of Utahans are against wolves.
    But..most of them are.”

    The contention on this blog seems to be that — if it were put to a vote of the general population, (in BOTH Utah and Idaho) the majority would be in favor of having wolves all over the place — are you sure you live in Utah?

  31. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Sonia – have you ever read the weekly wolf reports? If not, might open your eyes a bit. Despite what Foster said back in 1978, wolves make a large impact on the landscape and especially at the wildlife/humnan interface.

  32. gline Avatar

    TWB, what kind of large impact are you speaking of?

  33. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Gline – clearly the ranching interest, deer and elk herds hunter impact, legal cost for the taxpayers and the ESA issues/restrictions on timber harvest and other habitat issues. Did I leave anything out? Headed out the door – beautiful day here. Have a good one.

  34. gline Avatar

    You have neglected what good wolves do: natural evolution of prey, goodness for the ecological landscape, tourism $, add to our natural heritage, and beauty to the landscape, etc.

    -Not the utilitarian perspective. enjoy the natural landscape today TWB.

  35. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I can’t see that wolves have anything but a positive impact on wildlife habitat. Now some say they have a negative impact on herds, but herds are not habitat. Herds live in a habitat.

    No administrative appeal or lawsuit has ever been filed against a timber sale because of wolves. However, many have been filed to protect elk habitat, and in the past I have been proud to have been a party to some of these.

  36. IzabelaM Avatar

    yes..I live in Utah.
    And if you say that majority in Idahoa nd Utah would love to have wolves..well..why are they killing htem? ah..ah..the wrong mean minority rules..

  37. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    G – I assumed Sonia had plenty of the positive aspect covered. Thanks for helping to round out the discussion.

  38. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – I consider you a wolf expert and I would not pick a fight with you over this however, before I shot my mouth off about wolves and timber sales I did a quick search (not complete) and found the most recent Jan. 2010 – the Logjam timber sale in the Tongass National Forest. It may very well be that wolves are not mentioned often (usually the arguements are fish or fowl related) and I am not attemting to play gotcha just sharing what I had found.

  39. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Of course, I don’t know about the Logjam Timber sale in Alaska. Perhaps I should look at it, but I meant among the timber sales in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming where wolves have a special status unlike Alaska where they were never listed as endangered or anything.

    The reason I mentioned it is because wolves, unlike some ungulates and other forest animals, are not harmed by timbering.

  40. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – before I made my post I did a quick search and was surprised myself to find multiple hits on the subject. At the risk of being pounced upon, wolves appear to me to be some of the most adaptable critters around. I would like to hear about the elk timber issues you have worked on. Some of the fattest and apparently happy/calm elk I have ever shared the woods with were in “thinned” mountain timber – the elk had it all, tinder grass and cover in which to graze.

  41. Cobra Avatar

    Actually I think the logging has made it easier for the wolves to kill elk. It’s a lot easier for them to run them down in the open than it is in the thick timber. We see a lot of wolf sign around new logging areas because it seems to draw deer,elk and moose into the fresh cut timber, especially in the winter. I sure can’t understand it ,but they’re logging the hell out of some of my favorite areas up here in North Idaho. Woods hardly worth anything so I’m having a hard time understanding why their logging. Not to mention it’s not select cuts, they’re mowing everything down bigger than a pencil sad to say. In fact friends of mine found a wolf kill cow moose last weekend about a mile from the house in an area that was clear cut about 2 years ago.

  42. Save Bears Avatar
    Save Bears

    I talked to a couple of logging bosses a couple of weeks ago, about them logging these areas that seem to have poor timber, they told me that the pulp prices are up and they we using this timber for pulp wood.

  43. JimT Avatar

    Someone should invite Doug Smith to participate in this blog..too many what ifs on wolves and wolf behavior and impacts from us non scientist types…

    As for logging…$$$$$$ is the reason, and most of the lumber is being shipped out of country to places like China who are doing a building bubble of their own. Nice.

  44. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    TWB, Cobra,

    I think Cobra is more correct on this. Wolves are much less susceptible to forest modification than elk. That’s why I don’t think any (or many) objections have been raised to logging on behalf of wolves. Ultimately, wolves need a good elk population. If forestry practices hurt elk, then they hurt wolves indirectly.

    Of course, elk can benefit from logging too as long as logging roads are closed, the equipment used does not bring weeds that will replace elk forage, the new access does not create a easy elk poaching, and elk thermal cover is not reduced beyond a certain point.

  45. Save Bears Avatar
    Save Bears


    This type of log is being processed right here in the states, it is not quality timber that can be turned into 2×4’s and such, it is what we used to called pecker pole or piss fir timber, not quality building material, they logged it off around my Montana property this last summer and mulched it right there into chip wood for the process of turning it into pulp.

  46. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Cobra – I do not have much experience with elk and clear cuts. My experience has been when mature stands are thinned – seems about 3 years after (depending on moisture of course) you have an explosion of forage. Seemed to me the elk enjoyed the similar forage to what they would have on open slopes but, they were in timber making them much harder to see for me or wolves. My thought would be that wolves cruising thru an area would have a much more difficult time finding these animals. Your theory regarding wolves having more success running down elk in the open seems sound to me.

  47. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Anyone – does anyone have any research regarding the human hunter cripple loss taken/found by wolves and or bears? Seems to me that wolves especially would ride the human coat tails – kinda like we are working together – not that any of us are out there to wound anything but, it does happen and then the wolves take down the cripples.

  48. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    You asked a question the other day about SCI sponsoring predator derbies. They don’t actively sponsor predator derbies but they oppose any regulation or change to current hunting law. Much of what they do is behind the scenes and through lobbying. An interesting

  49. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Talks with Bears,

    I have no research data, but wolf biologists have told me many times that during the hunting season many wolves eat gut piles, and wounded animals almost exclusively.

    One Montana biologist near Yellowstone said a wolf pack she surveyed stopped hunting completely for a couple months to live on the gut piles.

    This fact needs to be factored into any analysis of the effects of wolves on available numbers of deer, elk and moose for human hunters.

  50. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – did your biologist contact indicate whether the wolves migrated out of the Park to take advantage of this situation?

  51. Elk275 Avatar

    Several weeks ago at one of the sporting good stores in Bozeman, a worker told me that in 2008 he was archery hunting in district 310 in the Gallatin Canyon, which is the Taylor Fork of the Gallatin and hit a bull elk. He then waited 45 minutes and started tracking the elk and within 300 yards found the elk and a pack of wolves feeding on it. By the time that he had gotten there it had been almost consumed.

    Later that afternoon he hit another bull and waited the customary 45 minutes and when he found the bull elk another pack of wolves were feeding upon it. Two bull elk in one day and both lost to wolves. I ask me about getting the antlers. In both cases he had to draw his pistol. The wolves were not going to allow him to approach the kill and if he wanted the antlers he would have had to kill several of them and punch his tag and go home without any meat. Fish and Game will replace your tag but you have to surrender the antlers. He had also seen 3 grizzlies that day.

  52. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Gov. Clem of Idaho is a member of SCI. FYI

  53. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Talks With Bears,

    I’ve talked with more than one biologist about this. The Montana wolves were a Park border pack, so it is hard to tell. However, Idaho biologists have told about it too. Of course, Idaho has no national parks.

    This is something that should have a refereed article done. Only one has been done, and it was quite a while ago. Doug Smith and a number of other authors looked at the reactions of Park boundary cougar, wolves, and grizzly bears to the hunt. The cougar moved away from hunt into the Park. the wolves showed no obvious reaction either way, and the grizzlies, not surprisingly, migrated northward out of the Park to greet the hunt.

    However, this was some time ago and the sample size of wolves were very low. It needs to be redone with more wolves. If anyone can find a link to the study that would great.

  54. Cobra Avatar

    The thick cover does makes it harder for wolves to see the elk but, wolves also have a keen sense of smell. Depending on what time of day it is they will use the wind currents at the bottom or top of the draws to determine if elk are in the drainage. My favorite pheasant hunting lab would do the same thing it just took me awhile to learn from him what was going on. The first few years after a cut the elk and deer do really well with an abundance of new feed. However after a few years the cuts seem to benefit the moose more than the rest except perhaps in the winter when almost all are browsing instead of grazing.

  55. Ryan Avatar


    Just as an FYI, SFW has purchased grazing alotments and raised about 15 million dollars for the Utah Fish and game which benefits all species.

  56. Glenna Essary Avatar
    Glenna Essary

    I have contacted my senator and the house reps and told them I want the bill to fail.
    Thank you for the email and alert on this issue.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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