Utah legislators finally order audit of state funds given to Big Game Forever to keep wolves out of Utah

What did the anti-wolf entrepreneurs do with the Utah taxpayer money?

During the recent Utah legislative session, a big controversy blew up about giving the Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife spinoff group, Big Game Forever, the second of two grants to fight the introduction of wolves into Utah.

Despite the fact that wolf reintroduction to Utah was an extremely unlikely event, Big Game Forever, got the second grant. The total over time is now 500k to do some thing or another to keep the perceived devil dogs out of Utah.  The grants from the Utah legislature came shortly after the grant recipients gaVe campaign donations to Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe and others.

At the time, opponents of the grant and the Salt Lake Tribune expressed grave reservations about lack of specifics on how the money would be used and the reporting requirements.  The whole thing too had the appearance of a payback for donations.  The Wildlife News too covered it in detail (for example, this from last March 19).

Now, finally, Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, has been able to get an audit of these funds started. The audit might prove very difficult because the anti-wolf monies might have been commingled with the rest of Big Game Forever’s revenue stream.

Here is the latest Salt Lake Tribune story on what sort of looks like a state gift to the anti-wolf, pro wildlife privatization folks who got the taxpayers’ money.






  1. Kirk Robinson Avatar
    Kirk Robinson

    My concern now is that the “audit” will be a sham one, designed to cover up and legitimize more than it discloses. The Utah legislative auditor general John Schaff evidently doesn’t enjoy the greatest of respect for due diligence and honest. I fear that this may turn out to be another case of the fox guarding the hen house. There is such a tangle of corruption in Utah government now, with all kinds of secret deals, money laundering, and payoffs, that practically the entire coterie of Republicans, from the governor on down, is entangled in it – like a bunch of flies in a spider web.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Kirk and Robert,

      Oh yes. Anyone want to fill us in on that Robert Swallow guy?

      Personally, I have noticed that for some, at worst most folks, who follow the rituals of their particular religion feel that following the rituals makes them bound for heaven. As a result, matters of ethical dealing with others, in business, or obligations to their community or country are not thought to be related to their personal salvation.

      1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
        Matthew Durrant

        Ethics and obligations to community and country are just as important to Mormons as anyone else. We believe these things are also inextricably tied to our faith and necessary for our personal salvation. I think you will find that many, many members find Utah politicians to be just as corrupt and slimy as you do. Mormons are people too and as such are just as susceptible to greed and corruption as anyone else. This does not mean we all believe this way and act irresponsibly. I enjoy reading the articles on your site and I agree with your views but I don’t appreciate the fact that every time the Utah legislature pulls a stupid stunt, ignorant blanket statements about my faith get thrown around and all Mormons get dragged through the mud. Kinda like how lots of people swallow the garbage they’re told about wolves and they believe it without actually checking the facts for themselves and finding out the truth of the matter.

  2. Robert Goldman Avatar
    Robert Goldman

    What a pathetic and corrupt situation in Utah. Why does the Mormon faith teach and encourage such violence and cruelty towards native wildlife? Aren’t they supposed to be squeaky clean with ethical issues? This is why I dislike just about every organized religion on the face of the earth. Such destructive, cruel, greedy, corrupt hypocrites.

    1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
      Matthew Durrant

      I agree that the Utah legislature is corrupt to the core but to make such a statement about what my faith teaches is very ignorant. I have commented on this very thing before on this site. In reality my faith teaches just the opposite but at the same time recognizes that people have the ability to choose what they will do with their lives. Yes, the majority of the legislature in Utah are members of the LDS Church but that does not mean they speak for the church and its teachings. Just as there are many opinions and lifestyles in society as a whole, there are just as many within the church. You cannot take the idiotic actions of some to represent the whole.

      1. alf Avatar

        What religions preach and what their followers practice are, sadly, all too often polar opposites.

        Gandhi said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    2. SAP Avatar

      There was some very useful discussion about LDS & conservation on a previous thread on this blog:


      1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
        Matthew Durrant

        Yes, that is tho conversation to which I was referring. I couldn’t remember which article it was on. Thanks for sharing.

      2. WM Avatar


        Good reminder post. Now I won’t have to restate my belief that many UT legislators take direction from Fairytale Central in downtown SLC. Sorry if I offend anyone, but I was long ago told candor is a virtue {And, didn’t we have a thread here recently that seemed to suggest like-minded folks with common values ought do business with each other to advance their common interests/values?}.

    3. Kirk Robinson Avatar
      Kirk Robinson

      Robert, the Mormon Church does not teach that – not at all. In fact, if anything, it teaches just the opposite. As a former member and once a missionary, I know what I’m talking about. Not every sinister thing that happens in Utah can be pinned on the Mormon Church – either on its teachings or its leaders. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the leaders ought to be doing more than they are from the pulpit to discourage the corruption that has become so rampant in our state government, and to teach respect for all living creatures, including wolves. In this connection, you might be interested in reading a very informed and enlightened article on the big wolf issue published by a son of LDS Church President Thomas Monson in 2006. Google “A House Divided: Utah and the return of the wolf”

      1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
        Matthew Durrant

        Thank you for your comment. I’l have to read that article. I hadn’t heard of it until now.

      2. Matthew Durrant Avatar
        Matthew Durrant

        Do you happen to have a link? I found it but I couldn’t get it to open using google.

        1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
          Matthew Durrant

          Thank you! That was a wonderful article and one that I hope many here will read and think about before they begin pointing fingers at my religion.

          1. zach Avatar

            It’s like in any religion where the few ‘crazy’ ones give a bad name to the whole population.

  3. CodyCoyote Avatar

    I had a fine young girlfriend from Murray Utah for a spell. Her father was a senior Utah state auditor AND the longtime bishop of a Mormon stake. Where he walked, yellow flags sprouted like dandelions…

    I do not expect any audit done by a Utah stage agency of a Utah state financial deal to be transparent, on its best day . Hopefully they will assign a third party auditor.

    From New York , if I may opine…

  4. Kirk Robinson Avatar
    Kirk Robinson

    I spoke with my colleague Steve Erickson, who has 30+ years of experience as an activist and a lobbyist. He predicts that the BGF issue will be put on the agenda for the NRAEQ appropriations subcommittee meeting on July 17; and he also believes that the Utah legislature’s auditor general, John Schaff will do a credible job on the audit. This somewhat puts my mind at ease. Somehow I have found myself thinking of these old rock lyrics lately: “Paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep.” “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

  5. Snaildarter Avatar

    It would would help redeem LDS bad reputation
    If they take a more main stream approach to
    Wildlife and natural areas

    1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
  6. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    more likly the legislature is giving peay a subtle hint that it is time to start spreading some campaign donations around.

  7. Richard Burris Avatar
    Richard Burris

    I can’t understand why every topic on this, and many other forums, always seem to gravitate towards “blaming” the Mormon faith for anything and everything. If I reported a hangnail I am sure someone in their infinite wisdom would blame my membership in the LDS church for my problem. Come on folks – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
      Matthew Durrant

      Exactly. Many more of us agree with the message this site is trying to publish than most of you realize. If you want our help to change things the worst thing you can do is blame us for everything and alienate us even further. The truth is, if you want anything to change in Utah, and even Idaho, you’re going to have to have the support of Mormons. There’s really no way around it. Maybe it’s time to start working on getting that support instead of pushing us away.

    2. WM Avatar


      Don’t read too much into my comments (if yours was directed to me). There are a lot of things I find attractive in the Mormon teachings and practice.

      However, religion and politics make good bedfellows. All one needs to do is to look to the R Party to see that statement holds some weight, and is worth pondering.

      In a state where one religion in particular seems to heavily dominate over others is hard to believe influence is not present and strong (population of 2.7M and an asserted LDS affiliation 1.9M). Wow! Let’s connect the dots, shall we. How many elected state and Congressional representatives & Senators, and governors (past and present) are not LDS members?

      And how many of those Congressional types from UT signed the letter to the President requesting that USFWS delist wolves nationally?

      Utah Senators: Orin Hatch and Mike Lee
      Utah Reps (total 4): Bishop, Matheson, Chaffetz, Stewart.

      That would unanimous.

      1. WM Avatar

        Sorry, addendum:

        “….signed the letter to …DIRECTOR DAN ASHE OF USFWS…requesting that wolves be delisted nationally.”

        1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
          Matthew Durrant

          I signed the letter petitioning the USFWS to NOT delist wolves.

    3. alf Avatar

      One bad apple spoils the whole barrel. Like with corrupt and brutal cops (think Rodney King, the NYC cops who sodomized the guy with a toilet plunger and the ones — again in NYC — who shot the unarmed guy over 40 times — including through the soles of his feet !), the steady drip, drip, drip, of scandal taints the whole organization/culture (think Warren Jeffs, Colorado City, and all the boy scout related pedophilia for starters).

      1. MAD Avatar

        the guy with a toilet plunger and the ones — again in NYC — who shot the unarmed guy over 40 times — including through the soles of his feet

        while I agree that Justin Volpe was/is an animal deserving of being locked up forever (Abner Louima case), you’re absolutely wrong and an idiot when talking about the Diallo incident. I know 3 of the Cops personally who were involved in that incident, and they did nothing wrong and were acquitted at trial. Diallo was an illegal immigrant who lied about his parents being murdered to get asylum in the U.S., he ran from the Police who were investigating violent crimes (rapes for which he fit the description of a suspect, he refused to comply with orders to stop, show his hands, and proceeded to take an object out of his pocket while trying to flee. The four Cops mistakenly identified this item as a gun and fired at him. Totally within the law & Police guidelines. One Cop fell backward off the steps where they were standing and the other 3 believed he had been shot by Diallo. They fired a total of 41 rounds of which 19 hit Diallo. This was not Police brutality at all, whereas the Louima incident (Volpe-plunger) WAS brutality. Try not to let your personal biases get in the way of the facts or the truth when talking about things you have no knowledge of and are just going by what the BS media has reported ad nauseam.

  8. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    I don’t blame religion(s), because the basic tenets are good, and it’s nice to contemplate (hope!)that there’s something out there greater than ourselves and a Creator. It’s the some who creatively interpret them for their own selfish reasons that I get dismayed by, and it isn’t just in one religion. There’s a big money laundering scandal at the Vatican if you can imagine that! Power and corruption know no boundary it seems.

    1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
      Matthew Durrant

      Agreed. If I may share a little quote from LDS scripture that I think applies here (keeping the Utah legislature in mind).

      Doctrine and Covenants 121:39-40

      39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

      40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        Very true.

  9. Robert Goldman Avatar
    Robert Goldman

    Kirk and Matthew, I lived out West for awhile including in Yellowstone. I returned two years ago for about a month and spoke with many respectful, intelligent, long-time residents. The mass killing and anti-ecology behavior towards wildlife they described, that is so prevalent in Mormon dominated towns, was revolting and very very sad. There is theory and then there is practice or how people actually behave. What they described is totally disrespectful and criminal behavior towards native wildlife and Creation that such religions supposedly revere.

    Sorry, not buying it, from Christianity, from Mormonism, from Islam, from Judaism, from Buddhism, from just about all of them. When it comes to true Creation care, they all suck, including Mormonism.

    No wonder so many around the US and the world have turned their backs on “religion.” “Religion” has turned its collective back on that which is most sacred, the miracle of Creation and all that the Great Spirit has created.

    1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
      Matthew Durrant

      You may be interested in reading some of our leaders’ teachings on this topic.


      1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
        Matthew Durrant

        Oh, and just because it is taught does not necessarily mean that it will be heeded and followed by many. I believe this is the case in many religions and not just mine.

        1. Cody Coyote Avatar
          Cody Coyote

          Mormons is as Mormons does.

          Having said that in all fairness, I spent half a year tromping around SOutheast Asia and was immersed in cultures there that professed to be Buddhist, and therefore compassionate , and especially compassionate towards animals since the Buddhist believe that incomplete souls are reincarnated and sometimes come back thru animals. That is what they say

          However, in practice, I found those cultures to be anything but compassionate towards animals and especially wildlife. [ Never mind other people ] Just visit the huge black market in animals or animal parts on the edge of Bangkok. Tiger pelts, ivory , all manner of monkey and marsupial and lemurs for sale. More snakes than you can imagine. Wanna buy a live Komodo dragon ?

          The Indochinese-Buddhist cultures have all but wiped out a huge percentage of their native wildlife. Only 2500 elephants remain in the wild in Thailand, where a century ago there were over 100,000. Birds take a big hit. Case in point: up in the Golden Triangle of northern Thailand-Laos-Burma I came across some kids who were selling caged birds outside a Buddhist wat ( temple). The had caught small colorful tropical birds and had them penned inside small homemade 4 cornered tetrahedron cages. Going price was 50 baht each ( about $ 1.25 US ). I bought every one of them, which made them gleeful. Then they got really really quiet when I tore open every cage and turned the birds loose. I scolded those kids. Buddhist my orange robed derriere. I shoulda taken my money back , too.

          So when it comes to ANY religion or cult , don’t believe what they say . Watch what they do…

          Sorry, guys above me here . Mormons believe planet Earth is theirs to plunder because it’s only a halfway house to the promised paradise of the star/planet Kolob , nearest celestial place to the throne of God . The Mormons do in fact believe they can consume the Earth self righteously , and they definitely act on that.

          I opine that from observation, to wit.

          1. Jake Avatar

            did you really just say that Mormons believe they can consume planet earth as they feel? I’m not really sure if stating such an open statement is right. It sounds more opinion than anything else?.. I’m not sure religion has anything to do with this entire topic but it’s more or less made out to be.

          2. Matthew Durrant Avatar
            Matthew Durrant

            Please read the Clark Monson article shared by Ralph above.

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan


    I doubt this irritating run-of-the-mill corruption has anything to so with the LDS church. It is the same kind of thing that happens in most state legislatures nowadays.

  11. Snaildarter Avatar

    Isaiah 5:8

    Woe to you who add house to house
    and join field to field
    till no space is left
    and you live alone in the land.

  12. Robert Goldman Avatar
    Robert Goldman

    I would like to suggest that folks on this site put the huge suffering, pain and death being inflicted on vital and innocent wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, prairie dogs and so many other precious beings FIRST, instead of indulging and bemoaning their hurt feelings about challenges to their religion. You are you. You are not your religion. Get over it. Fight to protect wolves, to keep them alive and safe and in the wild, wild and free. For goodness sake, look beyond yourselves and stop the pissing and moaning.

  13. save bears Avatar
    save bears

    Boy that sure got the comments going!

  14. timz Avatar

    The first thing I ask a wolf-hater is “do you believe in God?” 99% of the time they say yes. So I then ask, “so your God screwed up creating the wolf?” Usually ends the conversation as they walk away dumbfounded by their own hypocrisy.

    1. Matthew Durrant Avatar
      Matthew Durrant

      God didn’t screw up with the wolf. Man screwed up when he decided God would justify all his mindless actions.

    2. Louise Kane Avatar

      Timz I love that question!

  15. Robert Goldman Avatar
    Robert Goldman

    Thanks Cody, for sharing your experience and telling the truth. If we don’t write and speak the truth we will not solve the problems, we will not protect wolves, we will not save wild nature. The truth will set us free and and is the starting point for making things right.

  16. Travis Day Avatar
    Travis Day

    Big deal. The audit has been assigned to the Legislative Whitewash Committee.


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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